Time Tracking

At one point, I was tracking all my activities with Google Calendar. I use different colours for different parts of my life. At a glance, I knew where time was going.

I no longer do this, as I am familiar with the rhythm of life and ministry, knowing which hour of which day goes to which activity.

Recently, I downloaded an app called “Forest”. It is listed as one of the Top Productivity app in Google store. This app aims to help the user to “stay focused” and “be present”.

Forest app applies the Pomodoro technique: set the timer for 25 minutes, you work on your task. After that, you take a 5 minutes break. After 4 sets of 25 minutes of work, you will get a longer break.

When you first install the app, it will guide you through some instructions. I think the default minutes of Forest app is 25 minutes, but you can adjust it.

What I like about this app is that I can’t up pick my phone for mindless Facebook/Instagram scrolling when I have something to finish up. If I am disciplined enough (not picking up my phone), I can plant virtual trees and earn coins, which can be saved up and used to help plant real trees in Africa: Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania.

As I am writing this blog post, I have this 25 minutes timer on. I get to finish this blog post as well as preparing for a short devotion for the meeting this afternoon.

The message I got after picking up the phone 25 minutes later, “I’ve stayed focused for 25 mins without touching my phone! #forestapp”

The coins I got

Planted a virtual tree today

My forest looks like this

Time Management

If I don’t manage my time, other people will manage it for me. Time is one of the wonderful gifts from God, I want to make the most out of each day. Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil“. Apostle Paul talked about “redeeming time”, which means, grabbing every opportunity to live in the light of God’s purposes. We should live carefully and wisely, because we are citizens of Heaven. And this includes the use of time. 

Peter Drucker, an American management consultant and author, says, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed”.

I am writing this post during the Movement Control Order (MCO), whereby we are to stay home to prevent the spread of Corona virus. It will be somewhat different if this Movement Control is lifted because then I will need to think about the time it will take me to commute to the office.

1. Prioritize

What is most important to you?

I make it a point to look at and reply to text messages only after 8:30am every day because I need to spend time with God before starting the day. In the past, upon waking up, I would be replying to texts I had received from the night before after I had went to bed, or responding to tags on FB. Then I would rush to the office, only giving the “leftover” time for God, instead of reserving the best hour of the day for Him.

Prioritize what is most important and the day will be sorted out well.


2.Schedule No Distractions time

There was a point in my pastoral life where I would need a nap but then, when the phone buzzed, I would hop off my bed to look at and reply messages. A few (many, in fact) minutes went by, and I was robbed out of my nap time; my alarm rang. Had I been more disciplined in the usage of my phone, I would get my nap and would be more energised for ministry in the evening (win-win situation for everybody).

It shocked me when I was rooming with my (pastor) friend during a conference. She would put her phone on the “airplane mode”, so that she could get some quality rest. Since then, I learned not to apologize for needing a nap (after office hours, of course). We all can use a break. Some non-urgent messages can be replied later.



There are many activities clamouring for our attention. It is good to discern which categories each activity belongs to: (1) Non negotiable, (2) important, (3) beneficial, (4) optional, (5) non negotiable necessities.


4. Plan tomorrow, tonight

Before I go to bed each night, I will think about the things I need to do. I will then have a rough idea on what I will be doing the next day. It will be less overwhelming when the sun rises.

On the Monday night of each week, I will take a look at my calendar and see what are the programmes I need to prepare for (Bible studies, Small Group, sermon prepping, etc) and how many (online) visitations/catching up I need to do. I will then put the other categories into empty slots.


5. Set the duration of meetings

Sometimes, I plan meetings back to back. It is my attempt to do similar things in a batch. I will set up my laptop, instead of needing to set it up for every meeting. It is good to remind those at the meeting what is the expected meeting duration, so that we will keep to the time and not get side tracked during the meeting. It is important to have an agenda too, so that everyone will come prepared and during the meeting itself, we will not wander around aimlessly.


6. Time for fun

At one point, I was close to burnt-out because I was so busy and overwhelmed with all that I have to do. Now with the MCO, I have more time to slow down. We can’t go for a walk at the part or play sports, but it is important to schedule in time to have fun for the sake of our sanity.


7. Limit screen time

With the MCO, I work from home. Bible studies, prayer meetings etc are all done online. Sometimes I forgot to look up from the screen and spend time with my parents. Limit screen time and pay attention to our family around us. Make the most out of this MCO period to enjoy our family.