Managing time…doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron? Managing time is a well-intended concept, but often poorly executed. In this short article, I hope that I can provide some real applicable ways to manage your time at home, work, and in the woods. I don’t have any fancy degrees in the area of time management or a list of accreditations, but I am experienced. I have made many mistakes regarding time management that hopefully others can learn from.
To fully grasp “time” we need to know and deeply understand what it exactly is. Wikipedia describes time as “a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present in the future.” Make no mistake about it “time” is a free and valuable resource, a non-renewable, valuable resource. It’s important to realize with each breath we take and each minute that passes, we don’t get it back, once it’s gone it’s gone.
Think about some things that are valuable to you. Your family? A new bow? A truck? Your house? Grandpa’s old shotgun? They can all be valuable, material items. We take care of them because they are valuable to us. What if you viewed “your time” just as valuable? I hope to give you three ways to better handle time management: juggling family, business, and big bucks.
Preferences vs. priority. I’d “prefer” to play in the woods, chasing bucks, all day long and squeeze in a nap. Those are not priorities! It is not easy to do if you are married with kids and have a full time job. So how do we prioritize our time? My list goes as follows: God, family, work, and hunting. In the summer leading up to fall and throughout fall, I often get my priorities badly mixed up. I have to constantly remind myself of my list. For some of you, your priorities can be combined. Lucky you! Some can hunt while working. Some can hunt while having family time. Some can even combine all categories. The majority of us however don’t have such luxuries. Often all of the categories/priorities of our lives are separated. My time in the woods is limited because of other commitments so I need to be intentional to prioritize my time. It is so easy to put hunting 1st when hunting season comes. Don’t get consumed. Take hold of your time and prioritize it or you’ll feel burnt out! You certainly don’t want to suck all the fun out of hunting; feeling guilty or distracted in the tree because your mind is on so many “other things.” If things aren’t squared away at home, trust me you’ll feel that conviction from the tree stand, and your hunt WILL NOT be as enjoyable. There is great wisdom in “not letting the sun go down on your anger”, and likewise “do not go hunting if things at home are not where they are supposed to be.”
#2 Spread It Out
I struggle with this one because when I start a project I like to complete it. We are often stretched in so many different directions that time seems to speed up and run out quicker. A practical way I’ve tried to make good use of time is to spread it out. I can’t get everything done at once. I have to work. I have obligations. I recommend squeezing in small amounts of time throughout the year for completing tasks for hunting. Plan out your season as best you can, bit by bit. Set up goals or a plan as to when you’d like to get cameras out, stands out, etc. Schedule it! Write it down on the calendar. If you get to it, great! If you don’t get to it, that is ok, move it to another weekend. Another good tip is to write it down. That seems to take a huge weight off my mind’s “to-do” list. You certainly don’t want to wait until September and BAM! Hunting season is here, and you will be consumed with 8 different tasks you wanted to get done prior to season and didn’t. During this “spreading it out” phase I prioritize and combine categories. I involve the kids in setting up cameras and checking cameras and scrapes. I let them film me, or put the discs in the computer to check what surprises they hold. As they have grown they often no longer want to join me because of climate or bugs. That is ok. Since I have spread out my time I should only take 15-30 minutes at such tasks alone. Those of you with hunting properties farther away do not have this luxury. I get that. Again, I strongly suggest that you allocate short and sweet time to make the trek to your properties. Bring the family along, and make a fun day of it. Maybe there are other fun activities nearby that the family can do while you are in the woods getting eaten alive by bugs. There are 12 months in the year; make a plan and spread out your hunting plan throughout the year.
This is good advice for everyone in every situation. UNPLUG! With today’s technology, it is so easy to consume yourself with television, hunting blogs, video clips, updates, etc. We may prefer to scroll through social media or catch up on episodes of Bowhunt or Die. I get it! I love reading articles on bowhunting.com, chatting on the forum, checking out new products, and the list goes on and on. It can take a good chunk of your time! My advice is to unplug! For example: Give it a set time, “unplug” from 6-8pm, then 8-9 you can “plug in.” Don’t waste time. Don’t let media distractions cause you to miss out on the important things in life. Don’t mis-use time. Social Media can consume us. We can check Facebook for an intended quick check and get completely sucked into stuff that doesn’t matter. Because of social media and our addiction to it we’re missing out on some of the best life has to offer. We miss out partly because we’re too worried about trying to conjure up a clever #hashtag (it’s a pound symbol) or post about what’s going on that we miss it! Put down your phone and appreciate the time you have.
In closing, hunting is awesome! It is fun! Hunting is given to us by God for enjoyment and to provide for our families, not to rule our lives. Manage your time well, and you can keep that momentum and harvest an animal. Don’t let it rule your life. Don’t allow it to become an idol that takes you away from your family and loved ones. Apply recommendations #1-#3, and you will be able to saver your time. Time is a free gift, as I said, but it is not a renewable resource. Once it is gone, it is gone for good. I think back at all of the minutes and hours I have wasted, and I cringe. Invest in your family, work hard, hunt smart, and leave a legacy of eternal value. Be safe, and good luck this fall.