A Man’s Schedule

I would be willing to bet that many of us, myself included, have trouble with organizing our time.  My schedule during the week usually consists of waking up, checking this site, going to work, coming home from work, showering, holding my daughter, checking email, staying up with my daughter and feeding her, then going to bed.  It is an action packed day.  The weekends will vary but these days, since my daughter is only just over a month old, we have been staying in more often than not.  I have not read a single word in any book since my daughter was born.  I have managed to get outside a bit, including riding my bike which is something I have been meaning to do.  It was hard to get into a routine of everything I knew I should be doing before the baby, and now it seems impossible.

So I came up of a list of activities that I would like to see myself doing on a regular basis.  Some of these I hope to do daily, others more sporadically, but the bottom line is that I believe that all of us should be operating or at least striving to operate on a similar schedule.

 

Working

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

Theodore Roosevelt

Work is a necessity for all men, not only because it is how we make a living but because we were meant to contribute to the society in which we live in some way.  Some of you may love your jobs, others may hate them , but what is important is that we are doing something to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.  By working we can literally change the world.  By working we can offer our children greater opportunities.  By working we can use the gifts and skills we were given to praise our creator.  As much as we might hate going to work (and I use the phrase “going to work” loosely), it is a vital part to our existence.  Likewise, it is important that we are neither neglecting or spending excessive time in our profession.  There must be a balance between the two.  We cannot let any one thing master us, work included. You might not like what you are doing but doing your best at it regardless is a good habit to form.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that working does not necessarily require vocation.  I can work on a project at home that has nothing to do with how I make a living.  I can help a friend cut down a tree in his yard. I can wash the dishes.  A strong work ethic should be applied to all of these and more.

Spending Time Outside

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.

Walt Whitman

Spending all of your time indoors is a huge mistake.  Depending on your profession you may find yourself indoors more often than not, and if you are like me after a short period of doing so you become restless.  Watching episodes of Gold Rush can only delay your need to satisfy the urge to be outside.  Now don’t get me wrong, you do not have to wear plaid, have a beard or drive a Subaru to enjoy being outdoors, you can just as easily, play golf, read a book under a tree, ride a bike, run, or have a barbecue.  You do not have to be Bear Grylls to enjoy living outdoors.

In the early days of TTAF I wrote a post about an afternoon I spent kayaking a local creek and the benefits that I felt I gained from that.  Have a look at that post here for further discussion of the importance of the outdoors.  My wife seems to have a way of knowing when I need to go outside, even if I do not know myself.  Before our daughter was born she encouraged me to go camping, and it was an excellent decision.  Though I spent a portion of the night wondering how much trouble I would be in if my wife went into labor while I was camping, it was a great weekend spent in one of my favorite places on earth.

Camping on a ridge with this type of view is something I want to do more often.

Reading/Studying

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.

Will Rogers

It is no secret that we here at TTAF love books.  We have written about them extensively, as evidenced here.  But simply reading a book is not the entirety of what I mean when i say that we should all be reading/studying on a daily basis.  The basic idea is that we need to engage our minds daily.   Whether it is keeping up to date by reading the news, reading a novel (see Josh’s post Why Men Need Literature) at the end of the day, picking up a course at a local college, watching a Ted Talk or spending time meditating on Scripture, study is important.  On that note I should mention that reading scripture/time in prayer for me is implied in this section.  Also, worth mentioning is that the reading of scripture is probably the area of study in which I lack the most.  I am quick to pick up a novel (though I have been avoiding Infinite Jest like a troll avoids milk) or a piece of non-fiction, but I am more hesitant to pick up the Bible.  I am even more inclined to pick up a book about the Bible than I am the Bible itself.  I have had to slowly train myself into reading my Bible daily, and I am making some progress.  My seeming aversion to it probably has something to do with the fact that I feel like I have to do it, like it is a chore.  This is of course the wrong attitude, but hey I am not perfect and I am working on this particular area of my study life.  It is vital that we not ignore either the Bible or other texts.  You should always have a book/lesson/sermon/class that you are working through.  And, like the quote above states, you should always have a teacher/friend/mentor/family member that you are learning from.  I just ended two sentences in a row with prepositions.

Persistently pursue learning.

Family Time

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

George Bernard Shaw

The quote above is a truth that I have come to learn recently.  Don’t get me wrong I have always loved my wife and the rest of my family but there is a new aspect of this idea with the birth of my daughter.  I get excited to see her on the way home from work.  I say the word “cute” multiple times a day, I even made my father laugh by using the term “onesie” the other day.  Life is changing for me these days and I love it.

As men we are nothing if we are not striving to love our families.  This means our wife and  child(ren), but it also means our parents, grandparents, aunts, and yes even uncles.  I cannot help but feel that we (men) are categorically failing as fathers.  I know not all of us are in obvious ways, but I think that all of us are at some point.  Nobody is perfect, I understand that, and I am far from it, but we can all become better fathers and husbands.  This is a more abstract idea.  You cannot sit down and become a better father like you can read a book.  There is no one way to become a better family man, but even better there are many ways to do so.

I don’t want to come off like I know everything about being a dad because in fact I know little.  What I do know is who I want to be as a father.  I want to be present, a leader, a playmate, a confidant, a friend, a provider, a pastor, and a guide among other things.  I am not completely sure how to do all of these things, but I am hoping that I will figure it out as I go, especially as I try to pray and study as mentioned above.

As a sort of addendum, I would like to add that the concepts above generally apply to friend as well.  While family most definitely comes first, a man should always pursue authentic friendships with men around him.  So time with “the guys” should be a part of every man’s schedule.  Again remembering that too much time with the guys is a bad thing and that your wife having time with “the girls” is equally important.

A real man invests in his family (and friends).

Alone Time

Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself.

Thomas Browne

I am quick to add alone time to my schedule. This is both a positive and a negative.  It is a positive because I do some of my best thinking when I am in complete silence and on my own.  This is a negative because I can sometimes neglect other aspects of my schedule by selfishly seeking more alone time. I wrote a post about being along earlier this year, it is the same post I linked under the section about being outdoors, read it here. For me, being alone and studying/reading go hand in hand, but even apart from each other it is always important to spend some time clearing your mind with no distractions.  Sometimes I need to be alone and without distraction just so that I can hear what God is trying to say to me.  I don’t mean that God actually speaks to me in an audible voice like some crazy Irishman, but that God makes clear things that would not be so clear if I were surrounded by other people and other things.

Take some time out, slow down, and spend a few hours every week in solitude.

Sure there are more items that could be added to the list but I feel like the categories above can pretty much encompass most of them when taken in a broad sense.  Feel free to add to the list.

Time management is a constant battle for us all.  When I get home from work everyday I am amazed at how quickly the hours between 4:30 and when I go to bed pass, especially in comparison to the hours during which I work.  There will not be enough time to do everything that we want to do every day, but we should always strive to make time for the necessities.

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