by Ken Walker
Once you pass age sixty, society seems ready to destine you for the scrapheap. Yet, I find that this decade is marking some of my finest work. It’s taken me years to get this far, and I’m not anxious to quit.
One reason I’m optimistic is the breakthrough I experienced three years ago, amid a serious decline in 2013 and few prospects on the horizon for the new year. Sometimes, perspiration can breed inspiration. I realized I needed to do a better job of scheduling my time.
Now, it wasn’t my brilliance that drove me to this awareness. I credit God for sparking prayer, deeper thought, and my plodding reflections. Everything combined to help me recognize that I had been letting a scheduling spreadsheet sit on my hard drive for more than a year, without doing anything with it.
Once I got my act together, work became more orderly. In the past, I jumped from assignment to assignment at a frenzied pace. In addition to writing articles, I often had a ghostwriting or book editing job, making things more frenetic.
Back then, I would have told you that I planned my days. Every morning I made a to-do list and treated it like my boss. But that was only half the battle.
More than fifteen years ago, I attended a writers conference featuring prolific author Dennis Hensley as the keynote speaker. I bought two of his books. One included a chapter on time management where Hensley said not only to make out a plan, but how long each project would take.
I tried that and felt as if someone was peering over my shoulder and demanding to know if I was on schedule. After a couple of days, I went back to my familiar to-do list.
Turns out Hensley was right.
Setting Things in Order
I wish I had a better knowledge of Microsoft Excel years ago. Once I put it to use, it proved much better for planning. When I called up the spreadsheet I had downloaded during an online seminar, I discovered it was the perfect tool to help me map out my days. As Hensley advised, I estimated how long each project would take.
This accomplished two things: 1) It helped me determine how much time an assignment deserved, which kicked me into gear faster; 2) it enabled me to push projects to completion a step at a time. When I used to finish stories in one huge gulp, it left me emotionally drained and worried about other things I couldn’t get done that day.
Ironically, once I set up a more orderly system for handling my work flow, my work increased dramatically. It was as if when I did what I could do, then God did what only He could do.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for you. God is a planner. When we follow His design for making it through the day, our days will go better.
Experienced. Award-winning. Skilled. For years, Ken Walker has been shaping stories—thousands of them—for books and articles in various venues. He uses his writing and editing talent now to help edit and refine authors’ material, as well as coaching bloggers and other writers on how they can improve their material. In recent years Ken has co-authored or edited more than a dozen health-oriented books. This specialty began with co-authoring Winning the Food Fight, a book that emerged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an Emmy-Award-winning mini-series on ABC.