Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters is a short (less-than-100-pages), grace-filled book on using our time wisely.
At first blush, when encountering their premise, it might seem like the book will be either a guilt trip or a demanding book:
We can actually do all that God has called us to do. […] We can accomplish everything God has ordained for us to do in this life. And we can do it in a peaceful, joyful manner and get sufficient rest besides.
But their actual point is quite biblical, and part of it is that God isn’t calling you to “do it all” in the world’s sense or even in our own personal mile-long to-do-list sense. The book constitutes a redefinition of “doing it all.”
Every day presents us with countless options for how to spend our time. However, only some are truly great deals. Only a few things are really important. […] It’s frequently these good things that distract us from the best things.
After laying the groundwork, they outline five tips.
1. Rise early.
How can this be a grace-filled book if they come right out of the gates with something called “the 5am club”?
Well, by granting exceptions to pregnant and nursing mothers, by admitting this is a tip and not a rule or law, and by being humorous and humble rather than self-promoting and self-righteous. They even grant you this:
Early, though, will look different for every woman reading this book.
2. Sit still.
This chapter encourages mothers to have a daily devotional time, including not only reading the Bible, but also praying and perhaps singing or journaling.
The key to becoming a successful shopper of time is to make our first priority that of seeking God through his Word and prayer. No extra hour of sleep, no “urgent” task we must complete, no service we can do for others is half as good a bargain as this one.
3. Sit and plan.
Now we come to the nitty gritty. This is where the self-examination comes in and we are encouraged to be intentional and deliberate and realistic in our activities and obligations.
It’s precisely because the needs are so great and life so short, because the seasons keep rolling in without a pause, that we need to take time to sit and plan.
4. Consider people.
People are the priority over and the purpose of housework and activities. This chapter leads us through an examination of who God has placed in our lives, who we are to serve and with whom we are to cultivate relationships.
We don’t usually pause to consider why we pursue a certain friendship or neglect another. […] Do our relationships – the time we spend with our family and the friends we pursue – bring glory to God?
5. Plan to depend.
Here these ladies remind us that our plans are not infallible or immutable, that our plans will make it clear to us that we are inadequate even for the necessities of life — and that that is a good place to be.
Only God gets his to-do list done each day. We are not God. We are finite creatures with serious limitations. […] This truth helps us see the arrogant absurdity of expecting to complete our own to-do list. It frees us to humble ourselves and draw upon God’s strength to simply do what we can in busy seasons.
This is a quick and encouraging little book that addresses the fundamentals of “redeeming the days,” while remaining light-hearted, humble, and gracious.