Moving and Going Nowhere
Time Management for Believers – Part 4
When I was a little boy, either in kindergarten or first grade, I was introduced to my first gerbil. I had no idea what that was, but it lived in a cage that contained a hamster’s wheel. The gerbil would get on the wheel and just turn in circles for what seemed like hours. What was interesting about that wheel, now in hindsight, was this. There was no beginning and there was no end. Some of us have lives that remind me of being on that hamster wheel. We have a lot of action, but are going nowhere. What kind of life do you have when you exist as if you’re running in circles with no beginning and no end?
Speaking of beginning and end. God is described as both beginning and end.  There is a beginning to things and there’s an end to things. There’s a beginning to your day and an end. A beginning to your week and an end. A beginning to your year and an end. The importance of having a beginning and an end is so that we know where to start and we know when to finish. If you operate your life without a course or without a plan, then there’s no beginning and no end to anything that you do. Your life will be like that hamster on that hamster’s wheel just turning in circles. You’re moving but aren’t going anywhere.
There’s a concept that Pamela and I call “setting bookends.” Now that term “setting bookends” is not a term that she and I came up with. In fact bookend means to locate the beginning and the end of something. Generally speaking, bookends are found on bookshelves to uphold the first and last books on a row of books. Bookends set the location, they set the stage, and they let us know where the start is and where the finish-line is.
In your life you need some starting lines and you need some finish lines. You need to know when you’ve started and when you finish. Otherwise, you won’t know how to get to where you’re trying to go. Even your GPS won’t work without knowing these two coordinates, your current location (starting point) and your desired destination (the end point). Once you have your coordinates, your bookends, you start the journey to get to where you desire to go.
To accomplish the work you desire, you too need to set some bookends with your time. Without those two points, you are like that hamster or that gerbil on that hamster’s wheel. You need to understand that your time in this case isn’t infinite or revolving. You have days that have to be accounted for, weeks that must be accounted for, and years that must be accounted for.
Since we are learning how to manage our time with bookends, we must use bookends for our day, bookends for our month, and bookends for our year. You can throw in bookends for your quarters if you like. Even schools use bookends for their semesters; they have a start and end with exams .
How do you start your year? How do you end your year?
How do you start your week? How do you end your week?
How do you start your month? How do you end your month?
How do you start your day and how do you end your day?
You need plans for this, if you don’t this is a nice opportunity to begin thinking in this manner.
The bookends that Pamela and I have set are 1) a tithe of our time and 2) a time of reflecting. We give the first portion of our day to prayer and reading our Bible. If I’m totally transparent by the time I make it to the office I’ve had three distinct times of prayer at a minimum. Then we end our days with reflections. We’ve discussed and thought through the events of our day in order to begin our plans for the next day. Reflecting is very important. There is a Proverb that says “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  When was the last time you saw your reflection? Not the one in the mirror, but the person you are at heart? This heart-reflection requires some time to reflect. If you have no way to reflect, you have no way to determine what kind of person you are. Reflecting allows us to evaluate our heart so that we can see what kind of person we are. A tithe of our time and a time of reflection are our bookends, we initially have in place for our years, our months, our weeks, and our day.
- Annual Bookends
What do you do for your year? How do you start off your year? Does your year just end? Does your year look like that hamster on the hamster’s wheel? You don’t have a beginning or an ending? Do you not know the difference between your years? We have a process that we go through. We start the year with a tithe of our time, dedicated with 21 days for prayer and fasting. This establishes a mindset on godly things and invites God into our year so that this year starts off on a good note. We end the year with reflection. We go back through the highlights of our year. We do this by creating a list of accomplishments from each month as well as a yearbook for our family in pictures. When you reflect over the year, you get to see what kind of person you were this year.
- Monthly Bookends
At the beginning of your month you should have a time designated as a tithe of your month and a clear bookend on your month. Because Pamela and I focus more on our weeks, we roll up our monthly bookends into our routines for the week. It’s a good idea to have segments for your month, so that you have control over what’s done month to month.
- Weekly Bookends
Our weekly bookends are our favorite. Our week begins on Saturday evening carrying over into Sunday. We begin each week with what the church calls a Sabbath. In simple terminology, we rest and put aside the normal work that we do all week. We begin our week with a tithe which includes church on Sundays. This gives us a time to be refreshed by God’s word and a worship service. It allows our thoughts to be elevated. “God’s ways are higher, his thoughts are better.”  This elevated thinking is used to energize our week. For a bookend to our week, we close it down on Friday. We intentionally work hard all week to make sure we’ve made room for a clean ending. Having a clean ending ensures a clean beginning.
- Daily Bookends
For our daily bookends, we spend time each morning in prayer, thinking, and getting to know God through His word. At the end of the day, we take a few moments to reflect on all the things we’ve done for the day so that we can have better use of our time tomorrow. We have no intention of being that hamster on the hamster’s wheel.
Most people don’t have distinct bookends for their beginnings, nor their ends. Their life is like that of one running in circles, running wild, or running loose. When we fall into this category, we are unable to control the things that matter most. This leaves us feeling unfulfilled and incomplete in what we desire to achieve. When we bookend our days, we take back control of our time, control of our thinking, and control of who we are becoming. Therefore, we have to learn how to set and manage the bookends for our day, week, month, and year.
Question: What bookends, can you set today to help you regain control of your time?
 Revelation 22:13 NLT, Bible.com, accessed January 11, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/REV.22.13.NLT
 Proverbs 27:19 ESV, Bible.com, accessed January 11, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/59/PRO.27.19.ESV
 Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT, Bible.com, accessed January 11, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/ISA.55.8-9.NLT
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.