HOW TO BE PRODUCTIVE WITH YOUR TIME Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Have you heard this lately? “I am very busy!” I bet you have, maybe from family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, or even you. Everyone in our world today seems to be busy. Even the days and months are also busy running. It appears that the year is already on a marathon to get to the end.

The worst narrative about busyness is when people say that they are too busy to pray or do other needful things. Being busy is not even the problem; the central question is, “how productive is your busyness?” Many people are busy with things that do not add an inch of value to their lives. One can be busy without being productive.

Now being busy is all about the way we use our time. We live and die in the context of time; in fact, our entire existence is affected by time. In life, those who pay attention to time and work with it succeed more than others. What do you do with time? We shall come back to that question.

The Book of Jonah (3:1-5, 10) tells us about God’s plan to destroy the city of Nineveh because of their wrongdoings. Consequently, God sent Jonah to announce: “forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Put in another way, God was giving them a time frame to revert from their evil ways. Forty days means 960 hours or 57,600 minutes.

It is interesting to note that the people of Nineveh, great and small, responded within twenty-four hours (1,440 minutes) by their deep repentance. Time is of great essence, and the Ninevites understood that they could be saved or damned depending on how they respond to time.  

In the First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7:29-31), St. Paul remarks that time is running out and that people should adjust their programs and lifestyles because the world in its present form is passing away.

In Mark’s Gospel (1:14-20), we see our Lord Jesus Christ announcing the time of fulfilment and urging the people to repent and believe in the Gospel. We also learn how the first disciples of Jesus, who were fishermen, responded immediately to the call of Jesus by abandoning their fishing material and mates to follow the Lord.

How to be Responsible with Time

God is the author of time. Long before the creation of human beings, God created time. The Book of Genesis (1:14) tells us that God created light in the expanse of heaven to separate day and night, and to be for signs and seasons, for days and years. After the flood, God reconfirmed the importance of time when he said that as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). We may not forget the words of the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 3:1ff) that says, “there is an appointed time for everything under the heavens.”

Since time encompasses us, a pertinent question would be, “how do we respond to time?” Put in another way, “how can we be productive with time for our material and spiritual success?

Have a Proper Plan: Look around the world, what do you see? I see divine order, and this comes from divine planning. God is the ultimate planner, and He wants us to learn from Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ talked about planning when in Luke’s Gospel (14:28ff) he says, whoever wants to build a house or engage in warfare should first calculate the cost.

We become productive with time when we plan. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s statement that says, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Some people go through life without a plan, and they still ask God for favors. The Book of Proverbs says, “commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and he will establish your plans (Prov. 16:3).    

Stop Snoozing the Alarm Clock: This is another way of saying that one should hit the ground running. That means putting your plans into action. We often think that we still have time, but time is constantly on the go, as St. Paul tells us. Notice that the people of Nineveh did not wait for the next day to respond to the Word of God, and the fishermen followed Jesus immediately after they received the invitation. Your success is time-dependant; stop that procrastination.  

Avoid Timewasters: Time wasters are those things and people that steal your attention but leave you without benefits and values. Today, social media ranks high as a timewaster. People spend hours watching videos, pictures, or reading comments on some frivolous content at the expense of important activities. Do not get me wrong, it is good to interact and socialize, but sometimes we do that a little too much. Some people read only one book in the entire year, and that is Facebook!

Think Differently: We are products of our thought patterns. The Bible says that as a man thinks so is, he (Prov. 23:7). Most people believe that they are busy, but they do not ask if they are productive. One way you can change the way you think is to tell yourself the truth about yourself. Lying to oneself is the worst form of lying. Your life may not change until you look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself the hard truth about yourself and resolve to do things differently; nothing may change until you decide to change.

Moving Forward

You can cheat people, but you cannot cheat time because it cannot wait to be fooled. The best you can do is to utilize time as it goes. That age-long instruction we heard in the elementary school is still relevant, “make hay while the sun shines.” The Book of Proverbs (6:6-8) tells us to learn time management from the ant that plans and uses the summertime to store food for the winter. Our material and spiritual breakthroughs would come from our intentional and committed use of time, especially when it is still within our reach. Make productive use of time so that time would not mistreat you. Finally, pay attention to this: “do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today!”. The time to start is now!

God bless you and have a blessed week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.    

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