Time Management vs Time Stewardship

Time is a precious commodity that is often taken for granted. As the saying goes, “time waits for no man,” and yet, it is one of the few resources we can never get back once it’s gone. As a result, it’s important to manage our time effectively and make the most of every moment. This concept is known as time stewardship.

Time stewardship is about being intentional with the way we use our time and making sure that we prioritize what is truly important. It involves setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and developing habits that allow us to use our time in a way that is aligned with our values and objectives.

It is important to acknowledge and identify history and habits with decision-making around time. In this post we are going to walk through the WHY, WHAT, and HOW of time stewardship. 

Time Stewardship blog graphics

The WHY of Time Stewardship

What is Stewardship? It is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

Stewardship is not just about you and your time but about others as well. This is an important distinction as you think about how you spend your time.

Your values based on your Family Vision will be your WHY of how you spend your time. We all have three main things that come into play with decision-making. These are our time, treasures, and talents. You will always be exchanging one of these for another as you move through each day. These have a clear correlation between how you use your time and how you achieve goals. 

hands holding a red heart

Influences and Attitudes

So what influences and attitudes impact how we spend our time? 

  • “Time is money”
  • Social Media (and its addictiveness)
  • Your upbringing (what you saw modeled)
  • Hopelessness (i.e. “It won’t matter anyway”)
  • Accountability
  • Obligations
  • Interruptions
  • Ideal calendar or schedule
  • You can’t have fun until all the work is done
  • Physical and emotional state in the moment
  • Personal priorities and values
  • Efficiency vs effectiveness

With all of these factors, what is your responsibility? Well, stewardship means taking responsibility. It is your responsibility to identify your family’s values. Then it is your responsibility to make values-driven decisions about how to use your family’s resources.

You cannot manage time. All you can do is manage yourself and what you do with the time you have.

Time Stewardship blog graphics

The WHAT and HOW of Designing a Time Stewardship System for YOU

No matter what stage of life or the number of family members in your household, you will always need to consider your Goals, Actions, Habits, and Tools when creating your Time Stewardship System.

Your values should drive your goals, habits, and tools. They are the foundation of any system. Once you have your values established, you can set your SMART goals.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Timeline

If you don’t know how long a goal will take to accomplish (which is very common) you can choose to dedicate a preset amount of time to that goal at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly…).

Think about measuring your time use the same way you measure your budget. Plan for how you intend to spend your time and then track and record how you actually spend it to help you know where to make adjustments in the future.

time stewardship graphics

Time Stewardship Techniques

  1. Determine if the goal can be accomplished in a one-time action or a recurring action. The more you put your goal accomplishments into recurring actions (aka habits) and then into routines (aka sequence of habits) the easier it will be.
  2. Build routines for all of the important non-urgent activities you value so that doing them happens by default and is not a struggle/decision each day.
  3. Time block so you can focus on a set amount of time, which makes it easier to not succumb to distraction, both internal and external.
  4. Keep task lists (you may even want to sort this list by the value they support). Then when you pick the next task, break it into the smallest possible actions. Put those actions on your calendar.
  5. Value stacking – prioritize the activities that support multiple values. Also, creatively seek out activities that you can do that support more than one value.
  6. Build a time cushion around each commitment on your calendar. (This is like your time emergency fund, allowing you time for surprises without stress. It’s OK if you are early!)
  7. Leave blank spaces in your calendar. Think about setting a percentage goal for uncommitted time per week. 
  8. Batch similar activities on your calendar. It’s OK to set aside time on your calendar each week to do life admin (ie. emails, phone calls, schedule appointments, etc.).
  9. When you can’t do it all, apply the 80/20 rule. Do the activities that have the greatest impact on living towards your values and accomplishing your goals.
  10. If you need to prune activities, first identify which value each activity is supporting. If it isn’t supporting your values and goals, then it is fair game for pruning. Then for the remaining activities assign them a value from 1 to 5 for how well that activity supports one of your values. Prunes the ones first and move up in score as needed until you have pruned enough.
time stewardship graphics

How to Review and Revise Your Plan

At least weekly – Look over your calendar and task list and see what worked and what didn’t. Make a plan for the upcoming week.

At least quarterly – Review which values your time use supported, what worked and what didn’t. Make a plan for the coming quarter.

At least yearly – Review your family values. Decide which ones to focus your time on in the coming year.

Looking for further reading?

We recommend these helpful resources (affiliate links below):

Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less