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It’s Time for Life-Giving Time Management: Jen Pollock Michel

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2023 5:15 am

It’s Time for Life-Giving Time Management: Jen Pollock Michel

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 18, 2023 5:15 am

Author Jen Pollock Michel shows how to establish life-giving time-management habits and develop a grounded, healthy, life-giving relationship with the clock.

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Visit Jen's website at

Follow Jen on instagram @jenpmichel

You can purchase Jen's book,In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace.

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Go to and I'd say click that button and say, I want to join the family, I want to be a part of this ministry, and I want to be an insider. Trying to keep up with you on a walk, in an airport, anytime we walk somewhere, you are like the fastest walker. Last night we were walking to our neighbor's house. It was a half mile away and I felt like I was running. It says so much about my internal clock. That's how fast it runs.

Isn't that scary? I know. We need to get there. We need to go. We need to get some steps in. We need to burn some calories.

I get on those moving sidewalks in the airport and she's still beating me. I'm like, I'm like running and every step I take is multiplying. There you are.

Is that sad though? Because I don't always enjoy the process. Well, we're gonna talk about that today. Welcome to Family Life Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. We're gonna talk about time and slowing down. I don't know what all we're gonna talk about today.

But we've got Jen Pollock, Michelle with us. And Jen, you've written a book on this. So we're looking at you like you are the guru, expert on time. So welcome to Family Life Today.

Thank you so much. You've never been here. Jen, you look scared when you say you're the guru. I know. I thought, well actually was I being judged by the pace that I was keeping on our walk over here?

I gotta be honest. I felt like that was slow. I thought both of you, I thought, wow, she walks as fast as Ann. I didn't even think about it. Did you notice I was behind both of you? I did notice that.

You guys don't even know. You were such a gentleman. That's what I thought. You're so kind.

I was being kind. But no, I was thinking, wow, they both walk fast. Do you walk fast, Jen? You know what, not as fast actually as my husband on hikes. That's a particular rub in our marriage.

He's trying to get a workout. Is this a hike or is this a race? Are we enjoying ourselves? Right. Like if I'm on a hike, I want to just like look at the scenery.

It's like all about the destination, especially for my husband and our younger boys. Really? Mm-hmm.

Oh, 100%. And by the way, I have you mentioned you got five. Five. Five kids. So you talk about fast. You gotta be fast. Well, her youngest two are twins. Twin boys. Yeah.

But they're 15, so it's slowing down a little bit or no? It took me a while to write the book on time. You had no time. No, I didn't.

You didn't have any time. Anyway, the book is called In Good Time, Eight Habits. We're gonna get into these.

Maybe not initially, but we'll get there. Eight Habits for Reimagining, Productivity, Resisting Hurry. See, that's where I'm going. Oh, I'm with you.

And Practicing Peace. I need this book. Did you need this book? Did you need to write this book? Yeah. You did. Yeah, I think probably most of my books have been written really primarily, at least initially for me.

You know, just trying to solve some questions. I say in this book that I was a reader of time management books for 30 years. You know, I was definitely that person who thought, if I could just get some more strategies and figure out how to have a little bit more time, like all will be solved. Did it help?

Did it work? I mean, I, you know, I've come to sort of say, like, I think that there are some wonderful strategies to be learned. They're not really time management strategies. I think that's just like basic executive functioning. We could also probably say it's just like adulting kind of skills. Because I really think that I've come to conclude, you just can't manage time. That sort of assumes a level of control that I don't think we have. Which is kind of scary and creates anxiety in some of us. I mean, I can't imagine you're saying that, really.

I know. After reading and studying time management, you're saying we can't manage time. Even the beginning of her book, she starts out with, my alarm went off at five. I give myself 30 minutes.

I'm reading the Bible. And you're very scheduled. Yeah. Is that because of the time management books that's helped you? Well, I think, you know, it's kind of funny.

It's like the chicken and the egg thing. Like, do you read time management books? Because temperamentally, you're suited to time management books.

I think that's probably part of it. I mean, I definitely was one of those. I mean, I started reading time management books in college. So I think that was when I, and I can even remember my last year of high school, like feeling really busy, like, I gotta get all this done, you know?

I was so impressed. Like, I feel that busyness, but I've never read a time management book. Have you?

It might help. That's why we're talking today. Well, you know, when I hear that, I'm not wired that way. I'm not saying that's better. I'm just saying that is not how I'm wired. Although I love going to leadership conferences every day, but I'm not wired that way. So I hear from both of you sort of this pressure.

Is that true? Like, you feel like I need to be efficient. I need to use my time well. I feel the opposite. Like, I don't need to be efficient. I'm kidding.

I'd like to step into your shoes. You should try being married to him. Okay, we're not going there. Which is awesome because he's good for me. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, but do you do feel that?

Because I know Anne does. Yeah. You know, like, when she's not productive, it's like, we can be using our time better.

Do you feel the same thing? Absolutely. I mean, I think actually, even in my own kind of Christian formation for the last 30 years, it's just sort of that idea that time is just one of those resources that you have, and you better figure out how to steward it well. And I think that there's a good in that. I mean, I think that is true.

I think time is a gift, and like any gift, we are responsible to offer it to God back to him faithfully. But I think that kind of pressure to like use absolutely every minute for something measurable is where, like, it sort of starts to go off the rails a little bit. And I think that's what I realized in the pandemic. You know, the pandemic is a huge context for this book.

And you remember, right? Like, we were all stuck inside, not busy in the same ways. And supposedly, that should have solved all of our problems. Because that's like, I always thought, like, if I could just be less busy, like, it would all be great. And suddenly, I was less busy. And then I just tried to make myself busy with other things, you know, like, cleaning out my closets and my garage and all of that.

That's when people were doing all their home projects. Yes. Yeah. So, they kind of did just replace that time with more to do. Yeah. Well, you had a term in your book I've never seen before, time anxiety. What is that? I think it's funny because people will ask what it is, but I think we are all sort of could say, we know what it is, you know, we have an anxious relationship with time.

And I think that can look different for different people. You know, Dave, it sounds like you're, you know, pretty cool to like, follow the wind. I just stopped there. You said pretty cool. I want to be pretty cool. Finally, I'm pretty cool.

Period. You're pretty cool. No, you're, I mean, I'm probably exaggerating, right? I mean, I do have more of a relaxed thing, but I'm a hard driver. Yeah, you're, you're a getter-doner.

And I feel time anxiety a lot. Wait, wait. You just said that you don't. You said you just kind of flow. Well, it's like, again, who cares about me? We're not talking about me. I mean, but there are some men and women wired this way. It's like, I feel, I've always been told, you're the two-minute quarterback.

And I was a quarterback. So, when it's two minutes and the game's on the line, I'm pretty chill. But inside, it's like, every play matters. So, I think that's how I live. I feel pretty relaxed. But inside, there's a motor going, but you guys feel that motor pretty intensely.

Yeah, I know talking to women and moms, this is a big thing. We go to bed feeling like, I failed. I didn't use my time wisely. I haven't gotten anything done.

And I don't know how to change that. Yeah, I think it is interesting to go out and talk to women. And I think that some of the anxieties are a little bit different. On the one hand, we all do feel sort of anxious about the to-do list. I think that women often have so many different kinds of tasks on their to-do list. And often, if you're in a season where you're caring for someone, you are not really getting things done in the sense of you get it done and it's done. You get it done, and then tomorrow you do it again. And then in another hour, maybe you do it again. And so, that's where we start to get into trouble with the category of productivity, which is really just about measurable output in our lives.

And I think that there are seasons of life where we don't create anything measurable, or maybe it's measurable for like an hour. And then the next hour, you have to do it again. Or maybe you're in a season of ill health and you're not able to get things done in the way that you're used to getting things done. And that's kind of where I was at the beginning of the pandemic. Not that I had any of those health crises or anything, but just to see the world in a global crisis. And then to kind of see how I was manufacturing a kind of like urgency within my own home.

What do you mean? Well, getting busy with different kinds of things. Well, if I'm not going to travel, if I'm not going to have to take my kids, chauffeur them around to their activities, like I really should have been rejoicing and celebrating. And I want to situate our family.

We had older kids, so while they were home doing remote schooling, they were pretty independent in terms of managing that. But I was kind of left feeling like I don't even recognize myself in this new life where I don't have to like hurry around and bop from here to there and sort of end the day breathlessly. So I'll just sort of invent some things. I was reading more time management books. I was making all kinds of lists. I was, you know, making lists of people that I was going to check up on and who was I going to call. I was literally writing questions from my mother and my mother-in-law to help them write their memoirs.

I mean, these are the kinds of projects that I was inventing. And on the one hand, like, you know, maybe it was a good thing. But on the other, it was just like, why am I so tied to a version of myself that is busy, like that being part of my identity?

That's what I was just going to ask. Did you feel like your identity and your self-esteem was based on your productivity for the day or what you have accomplished? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think people, especially temperamentally, who, you know, lean in that direction, like you get a huge kick out of like writing your list and then you check things off and you're like, it was a good day. I mean, how many times do we actually just narrate our lives according to busyness? Like, how are you busy? Was it a good day?

Yeah, I got a lot done. You know, that actually has kind of become the measure for the good life. And I think it has to be reexamined because, I mean, you don't know if what you, I mean, especially as Christians, you know, who's to say that what you put on your list was the thing that God wanted you to do?

And then what about when God calls you to receive interruptions that you didn't expect? I think that's the hardest thing about transitioning into motherhood, because you look at your life and you think, this is what I used to think, I didn't accomplish anything today, except for wiping noses, changing diapers, feeding these people, you know? And I was working part time, but it just felt like, but I felt like also that was a magnifying glass in my own life of saying, what do you find your identity in? I was in an identity crisis. I think a lot of young moms are. And even for the phase of life that you're in now, Jen, that I just went through, of caring for our parents as they're getting older, because you're kind of in some of those same stages of like, I just sat with my mom all day and just, we just talked. And I think God looked at that and thought, that's a victory.

Yeah, that's a great day. When I look back at the years of being a young mom, I really see if I could have adjusted to kind of the time, like the pace of that a little bit more quickly, which I guess is sort of a bit of an irony. And I can see that, you know, when I first became a mom, I had a lot of anxiety about just, you know, what is my life about? Who am I? Who am I?

And then of course, I would go to work events with my husband. And there were other people like, what are you doing with your life? Nothing. I'm no one. Nothing. Exactly.

I have no title. You know, I'm bringing not a single dollar into this family. And I remember actually when I had my twins, so my oldest was almost seven. And so we had seven, five, three, essentially, and then the twins. And I remember actually, though, receiving that time as a gift, having a little bit of perspective, like this is only going to last so long, you know, they're only going to be babies so long, they're only going to like learn to talk once, you know, and learn to walk and all of these kinds of things.

So I think I enjoyed it a little bit more. And that's the hard thing. When you're in a season, oftentimes you can't appreciate it. But it's interesting as I talk to people who have been through seasons of caring for their parents, what I hear from them is, you're never going to regret this. And enjoy every moment. Especially with someone who is facing cognitive decline.

You know, just enjoy every conversation that you're able to have now, knowing that that won't always be possible. I mean, is there a way that you too would coach young moms who are in that phase you just talked about, Jen, where they just feel like every day is, I'm just serving people. I'm not really feel like I'm doing anything, but changing diapers and cleaning up messes and making meals.

I know I've heard Anne, it just felt like I missed some of that. You're acting like I'm now starting to see some of those moments. How would you coach a young mom to be able to seize that better in good time?

How would you help her to make her time better? I mean, one of the things I think that we can see in those young years is those, how formative it is actually for us. Often we look at that season as like a timeout. Like I'm taking time out of like my life, perhaps, you know, to care for these little ones, off ramping, whatever I was doing before, you know, if that is the case, you know, but in some ways it changes our lives. And the attention focuses now on the kids in different ways. And so I just want to celebrate for young moms, like how formative that is. Like the kind of resilience and endurance and steadfastness, like those are words actually that I use in the book that become so important for me where you're in a waiting season. The things that you do regularly are actually really forming you.

And so I would encourage young moms to just be hopeful about their own formation in Christ as that is happening in those young years. And man, if I if I could go back and tell my younger self to get more help. And I'm not even talking about, you know, hiring people or, you know, I'm just actually like talking about looking around and maybe even getting a little bit honest about how hard it was. I don't think I really gave myself permission to say this is hard. Like I am home. I mean, I remember people looking at me at Costco, five kids, like two in the front, three, you know, somehow attached around the basket. And I was like, well, I'm just doing this.

You know, you're just doing it. But I actually think I didn't admit to myself how hard it was. I didn't admit that even to my own husband sometimes. And I wish I had admitted it to him. I wish I'd looked to more help in my church family because intergenerationally, you know, I could have looked to some older moms to maybe just get some wisdom or some perspective. What would you say to husbands? How can we help? That's a great question.

What would you say? I'm asking it now because I can't do it. But, you know, because we're out of that phase. No, I remember when we were in that phase.

I was kidding. But when we're in that phase, you were really depleted and struggling often. And many times I was like, how can I help? How can I help? Obviously, I can step in and just be hands and help. But I think sometimes we as husbands are like, I don't know exactly what would be the best thing.

And I've got two moms here that could maybe give us a word. Go ahead. Yeah. I think about how much control I really was devoted to.

I wanted to kind of receive help, but then also was sort of divided about that. No, I love being in the martyr complex. I do everything around here. I am amazing. And you are horrible.

You don't even see me or help me. Yeah. And there were times, I mean, I still want you to answer the question, but there were times where I would step in and then get criticized. Right. You're not doing it right. And then as a guy, we're like, okay, I tried.

I'm going to go play basketball, you know, whatever. And so, yeah, it's like, I think a lot of us men are like, I want to help. Yeah. Tell me how. Yeah.

You guys still haven't answered the question. I wish I would have said exactly what I needed to my husband. Absolutely. Like, could you please do this? I could use your help, maybe even make him list, hey, when you come home today, it'd be so helpful if you could get these couple things done for me. Yeah. I was so reluctant to ask for help, just as you said, not only from Dave, but from those around me.

It would have been a gift to me and it also would have been a gift to the people around me because I know that if people ask me something, I'm so happy to help, especially those young moms. Like, oh, I'm there for you. I remember that. I get that.

Yeah. I think asking those specific things, and I think we have to just kind of face even our own guilt in asking that. I think that's how I felt is that, you know, I'm, I mean, I was home with the kids, so I felt guilty to ask my husband to do things. And, you know, when I look back on it, like that wouldn't have been a wrong thing to say every Saturday morning, I want to lace up my shoes and go for a really long walk by myself. And, you know, maybe even having some patterns as a family.

So you're not asking all the time. It actually, it can become a rhythm of your family that, you know, mom goes out for a long walk on Saturday mornings, if it's possible, and dad takes the kids for donuts. That's exactly what one of my friends did. Every Saturday, he'd pile the kids in the car. They'd do donuts or Panera. They'd do a car wash. They'd go to the drug store.

And I remember telling one of our sons that. And so every Saturday morning, they do their runs. They go get donuts and it's the first time his wife can just take a break. She doesn't take a break.

She runs around the house. But I think those are good questions. And we did what we call Boys Day Out where I take the three boys. That was once a month, right?

Yeah. Like most of the day Friday. And again, it was just one of our rhythms. But that was a gift.

You would like look forward to it. Two more Fridays and I get Boys Day Out. And the boys loved it. I think that guilt piece too. Now, I see that that was really good for Dave and the kids. For your husband too, to be with the kids. So I'll usually tell young moms, you're giving your husband and your kids a gift by just saying, guys, go have fun.

Well, we'll talk about this. I mean, it's really easy as you've already said, especially if you're trying to manage your time well, to not be fully in time. Does that make any sense? Like there'd be times when I'd be home and be like, I'm not really, I'm not in this moment. Do you experience that a lot as moms? Just because you're doing so many things, you're not really fully present? I mean, it's a funny relationship we have with time. Like in a lot of ways when you're sort of managing the house and like just running things and you're very acutely aware of time. Like we have three minutes and your shoes are not tied and we have to be in the car because I know that, you know, the carpool line, like I have everything sort of timed out perfectly in some ways.

I mean, that's kind of how it ran for me. Some of the interesting research on time says that when we become least aware of time is when we are fully entering into joy. That it's your most joyful moments where you completely kind of lose a sense of the clock. I mean, nobody's looking at the clock when you're hanging out, playing a game, having friends over, whatever you're doing, like you kind of lose track of time. And I think that is actually a huge practice and a habit that all of us can sort of enter into. As we think about time anxiety, we think sometimes we will solve our time anxiety by kind of barreling through the list, getting to the end of it. Oh, great.

Now I'm all done. Whereas, you know, sometimes you actually have to just accept the fact that you're probably not going to get through the list and really be intentional about joy, you know, just moments and habits of joy in your life. I love that your book is packed with scripture because there's a lot of scripture on time. And so, how do we bring this God component into this area?

A lot of times I really start with Psalm 90, which I think gives us a really helpful perspective on time. I put it in my notes. Oh, did you? Very good. Want me to read part of it?

Sure. I'd love to have your thoughts. And I, you know, just tried to condense it a little bit, but David wrote, For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. For all our days pass away under your wrath. We bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life, and this is the one I think a lot of us have heard, the years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty. Yet their span is but toil and trouble. They are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Wisdom is really the thing that we need to live in time well. When I talk about this psalm, I say, you know, I'd like to think of it as like a musical score. And the beginning of the psalm is like all happy major chords, you know, that we're talking about God.

Lord, you've been our dwelling place from all generations. Before the mountains were formed, or ever you brought forth the earth and the world for, you know, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. So you're just immediately introduced in the psalm to God's time plenty, which is, I think, where time faith begins, you know, this idea that God is outside of time. God's not panicked by time.

Whatever God plans and purposes, He'll give the time that's necessary for that. But then the score kind of changes, and the major chords like start to feel like diminished seventh minor chords and just all this lament. Are you a music girl? I took seven minors. Pretty complex.

I took 12 years of piano. But this grappling with the brevity of our lives, and that is a real, I mean, ultimately, I think that's where time anxiety is rooted. And time management, I mean, if we were to be most honest about it, it's not just about getting things done. It's about creating meaning and lasting meaning in our lives.

And I think as human beings, we want that. The end of the psalm, you know, so you've got God's time plenty, and then the limits of human time. And then all of a sudden, you've got all these strange petitions where it's like, you know, satisfy us in the morning with your love.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us. I think that that psalm really introduces us to the paradox of time, that on the one hand, it's plentiful, especially as Christians, because we know that the door is going to close on this life, and it's going to open simultaneously into eternity. But we still have to grapple with the fact that our human lives are brief, and we're not going to get everything done.

We're not going to accomplish everything. And there are going to be losses and griefs in our life that just kind of remind us like, oh, okay, we're inhabiting the not yet. I love at the end of a lot of your chapters, you have some thoughts to consider, and then you have a prayer to pray. So, as we end this time together, what's our application? What would you hope the listener takes away? Hi, I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jen Pollock-Michel on Family Life Today. You know, we're going to hear what Jen thinks is the most important takeaway from today's time.

But first, she's written a book called In Good Time. It's a book that unpacks eight practical habits to help you resist, hurry, transform any time anxiety you might have, and practice the presence of God in the here and now. So you can pick up a copy at And if your family has been blessed by the Ministry of Family Life, then I'd like to invite you to become a Family Life partner.

Why? It's to ensure that we're always here for you on air and online. Family Life is a donor-supported ministry, and that means it's only through the generous support of friends like you that we can reach families with the timeless hope of Jesus. That's what we're all about here at Family Life. So if you want to become a partner with us, you can go online to, or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. So again, that number is 800, F is in family, L is in life, and then the word today.

Or you can feel free to drop us something in the mail at Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. All right, now let's hear what Jen thinks would be a great takeaway from today's time. I hope people will start to think about, you know, this wisdom that's required in time. Teach us to number our days. I mean, that really does cause us to look up, to say that I can't know how to number my days apart from looking for a wisdom that doesn't belong to me, you know? So you've prayed that, Jen?

Oh, 100%. You know, teach me to number my days. And I think in many ways, my life story has kind of taught me that, that life is very brief. But it's the wisdom that I'm really, like as I'm in midlife now, realizing that's what I'm really hungry for. For God to give me the wisdom that I need to make the choices in life that are difficult for all of us.

And I think the amazing thing about that Psalm is that that's our invitation to make that petition of God and to know that He does give wisdom and He gives it generously, as we know from the Apostle James, you know? You know, when I read that verse for many years, so teach us to number our days, I read it like this. I got to seize every second. I can't waste a minute. I can't waste an hour. Teach us to number our days.

They're short. And the rest of the verse is where you went for to gain a heart of wisdom. It isn't to run around crazy. Like, I don't want to miss a minute. It's like, no, it's actually slow down enough to have wisdom to say, how do I best use this day?

And it might be slowing down. You know, many of us have an antagonistic relationship with time, but time really is a gift from God. Well, tomorrow, Jen Pollock-Michel is in the studio again with David Ann Wilson to help us understand what the Bible says about the importance of what she calls eternal time. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-18 06:26:01 / 2023-05-18 06:39:07 / 13

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