Juggling Bandwidth: Managing your time without losing your mind


Bandwidth. It’s not what you think it might be. It’s not what you think you might have. It’s not the amount of output you can achieve. It’s the amount of throughput that you can realistically, humanly handle in any given 24 hours, one week or 30 days. It’s basically a technical term for how much data can be processed at one time through a conduit of copper, fiber optic or another form of telecommunications pipeline. Before you think that this is an essay on upload/download mbps, let’s dive into the “why” of this analogy.

Like me, you probably have many opportunities handed to you each and every day. Opportunities to minister, opportunities to serve in your community. You also have certain tasks you have to perform for you corporate job, small business or practice. It’s a lot to juggle and we only have a finite amount of time, energy, resources and you guessed it, bandwidth to achieve the demands and expectations imposed upon our family, congregation, customers and friends.

Do I play with my kids at the park or visit a new church member? Do I make 10 calls to prospects or work on my sermon? Do I hang out with the guys or hang out with my wife or my church elders or my customers? So many choices, so little time. There is only so much of you to go around. How does one achieve all that is required?

For me, it’s starts with a back of envelope, gum wrapper, my kids’ art paper or a sticky note. Then the quadrants: Upper left side: Ministry. Underline. Upper Right Side: Personal. Under line. Lower left side: Insurance. Underline. Lower Right side: Corporate. Underline.

Then, I start listing all the things I have to do: Study for sermon, grocery shopping, create a new policy quote, call customer XYZ. Sounds remedial and old fashioned in this tech-savvy, app-crazed cyber world that we live in, but it works for me. 

It’s a “To-Do” list (pronounced Two-Dew). Kind of rolls of the tongue and yet the tasks don’t seem to roll very fast at least not for a Type A personality like myself. These lists are the beginning of accomplishing a goal and staying organized. Here is a sample of one of my recent lists.  

Sometimes we don’t get everything done on our list and that can be frustrating, very frustrating. However, knowing that the Lord gives us time and another day to create a new list with carry-over. Believe me, there is always carry-over. Sometimes God adds things to our list that need to be there but we didn’t know they should be there until the moment happens like counseling the AT&T Store rep whose friend is struggling with alcohol or visiting your grandmother in a rehab facility after her fall at home or taking the church trashcans to the curb at the last possible minute, then meeting your neighbor for the first time. We have to be open to where the Holy Spirit leads. As a multi-vocational minister, I’m learning to enjoy how God reveals the right opportunity for His Kingdom and His purpose. We can juggle three, maybe four things at once, managing pretty well. But only the Lord can help us juggle bandwidth so that His will is done in midst of our sticky note tasks. Because His “to do” list is always the better list to check off anyway. It has eternal rewards.

Matthew A. Butter is an itinerant preacher/published writer in the San Antonio area, IT Enterprise Account Executive and licensed Insurance Planner. In addition, he is married to Sonya, who has the big job of homeschooling their three children.

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