How to Budget Your Time If It’s Regular

When you hear comments about “budgeting,” what comes to mind? For many folks, finances do.

But behind this specific context is the principle of deliberate planning. So you can budget other resources as well, including time. And extending the budget metaphor can open up different ways of thinking about the time you have available to you.1

This can be helpful if your time is fully regular, fully irregular, or mixed.

Regularity in Time

There are only 24 hours in a day or 168 hours in the week, however you use them. So in larger contexts like these, everyone’s schedule is entirely regular.

But within smaller units of time, you might have significant regularity as well. For example, week-to-week, you might have almost an identical number of hours when you’re working. And when you have those work hours might be pretty dependable too.

Budgeting Regular Time

When this is the case, you can decide how to “spend” those hours in your time budget. You want to be sure you do what’s important (not just what’s urgent).2 But it’s not so important when you do what.

Your total time you plan to spend shouldn’t exceed what you have available in that part of your time budget. If you do, for instance, you might end up over budgeting time at work so that it eats badly into time with your family.

But within that “work” portion of your time budget, you can have significant freedom to structure the contents of that time how you like to meet the commitments you have.

In this scenario, time blocking might help you visualize how you are budgeting your time. It can also help you notice things about your current plans that don’t work well but that you might not realize otherwise.

You can time block on a paper calendar, with Google Calendar and Todoist, or any number of other methods.

Conclusion

Whether you budget your regular time with blocks, a list, a spreadsheet, or something else, the principle remains the same that you’re deliberately planning how you’ll use your time.

And you’re ensuring that plan contains space for your most important commitments.


  1. As a basis for these categories, I’m drawing on thinking like that described in “How to Make a Zero-Based Budget,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 
  2. On the relationship of urgency and importance, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 154–92. 

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Audience and Predestination in the Letter to the Romans

A perennial question in the interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Romans is what testimony the letter bears on the issue of predestination.

Especially in the last few decades, the identity of the letter’s implied audience has also become more of a live question.

Discussing These Difficulties

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Jones, of the Illuminated Word podcast, to discuss both of these issues.

There was a lot more that could have been said than we were able to fit in the time we had.

And for me, the exact contours of Romans’s testimony on each of these issues is still very much an open question—and, therefore, the subject of projects in various stages.

But it was delightful to have the opportunity to chat with Chris through a kind of “interim report” on some of the work I’ve been doing in the letter.

You can listen to our discussion here below or in your favorite podcast player.

In particular, on the issue of

  • Romans’s implied audience, the use of the τε … καί construction in Romans has been discussed. But the regularity of this usage is particularly helpful for understanding the letter’s implied audience (e.g., in 1:13–15).
  • Predestination, there’s quite a lot of exegetical gridlock in the arguments and counterarguments between different positions. But an often overlooked question is “In advance of what (pre-) does this ‘destination’ or ‘appointment’ occur?” (e.g., in 8:28–29). And if we ask this question, Romans might have a surprising answer.

A Resource for Readers

Toward the end of the episode, Chris and I also discuss a free reading guide I created especially for

  • English readers who want to read their Bibles more carefully and
  • Teachers of English Bible readers who want to help their students read more carefully.

The discipline of reading the Bible in its original languages can certainly be invaluable. But that journey’s not for everyone.

So, this guide helps English Bible readers by providing a framework for considering more closely how the English text works.

Get the guide for free, and help encourage closer and more careful Bible reading.

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Growth in the Land(s) Promised to Abraham

According to the narrative of Genesis, the land promise to Abraham begins modestly near Shechem.

The promise appears in chapters 12–13, 15, 17, 22, and beyond chapter 25.

In the last phase of course, Abraham has died. But when Abraham’s descendants receive the promise, appeals back to Abraham still appear.

Interpreting the Promise(s)

But within Genesis, the different forms the land promise takes create intriguing intertextual connections within the book.

In addition, each form of the promise provided Genesis’s Second Temple readers with a distinct set of opportunities to read the scope of the promises still more broadly.

This tendency to read individual versions of the land promise more broadly appears in Ben Sira, Genesis Apocryphon, Jubilees, Philo, Paul of Tarsus, Pseudo-Philo, and R. Eliezer b. Jacob.

The broadening tendency appears differently in different authors. The Genesis Apocryphon, Pseudo-Philo, R. Eliezer b. Jacob, and most texts in Jubilees reflect more modest expansions.

The expansionist tendency in Ben Sira, Jubilees, Philo, and Paul is stronger. These witnesses find in the promise to Abraham of landed inheritance a claim for this promise to encompass the whole world.

It is by far commoner for the promise to be interpreted around the land of Canaan. But the expansionist minority reading is itself commoner than is often appreciated.

Conclusion

Within Pauline studies, scholars often note the parallel between Ben Sira and Paul when interpreting what Paul may mean when he identifies Abraham as “heir of the world” (Rom 4:13).

But Jubilees and Philo share the same style of reading as well, despite their giving it very different forms. And although not to the same degree, you can see similar interpretive outcomes in Genesis Apocryphon, Pseudo-Philo, and R. Eliezer b. Jacob.

If you want to read further, drop your name and email in the form below, and I’ll send you a copy of the full article.

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How to Time Block with Todoist and Google Calendar

Among many others out there, “time blocking” is an approach to organizing your time. As the name suggests, it normally involves visual “blocks” that show how you’ve decided to budget your time.

Time blocking isn’t as useful if your approach to work needs to be highly flexible. (The larger principle of budgeting time still is. The application just needs to take a different form. But that’s another topic for another post. 🙂 )

Where you do have a known amount of time to budget, though, time blocking can be a hugely valuable practice. It can help you get the most out of the time you have. It can also help you see when you might be planning too much activity for too little time.

Time blocking isn’t tied to a specific tool. You can time block quite well on paper.

Or if you use a digital calendar, you might want to time block there. At a basic level, that’s as simple as creating an appointment with yourself.

Time Blocking with Google Calendar Alone

That’s what I did in Google Calendar for a good while. But I found two downsides to having time blocks in Google Calendar and tasks for those blocks in Todoist:

  1. I had time blocks on my Google Calendar that didn’t reflect well what was in my Todoist task list. Often, that meant I had too much to do for the time I’d allotted.
  2. I would find myself doing duplicate work to show on my Google Calendar what I already had in my Todoist task list. That helped with the overcommitment. But it also meant I was managing my system when I could be doing what I wanted to get done.

For me, a great solution turned out to be having Todoist put tasks on my Google Calendar.

Then, I could see on my calendar the impact of setting a certain task for a given day. And I only had to manage tasks (and their blocks) in one place.

If you don’t already use Todoist, try the premium version for 2 months for free.

Time Blocking on Google Calendar with Todoist

Todoist’s Google Calendar integration allows for different preferences in how you want to use the two together.

What I’ve found most effective is to first create a new calendar inside your Google Calendar account named something appropriate (e.g., “Todoist”).

Then, in Todoist’s guide for setting up a Google Calendar integration,

  1. follow steps 1–7.1.
  2. When you get to step 7.2, choose to sync tasks from “All projects.” This way, no matter where you file a task in Todoist, it can still show up on your Google Calendar.
  3. For step 7.3, choose to have tasks you create on Google Calendar go to your Todoist Inbox. Google Calendar won’t know all the projects you have in Todoist. So, it’s easiest just to send tasks created in Google Calendar to the Todoist Inbox and sort them into projects from there. But you can ignore this feature and add your tasks in Todoist only. If you do so, you get the added benefit that, whenever a Todoist task appears in Google Calendar, it will have a link back to that task in Todoist (on the words “View source” at the bottom of the calendar event). That makes it even easier to reference and complete the task from your Google Calendar.
  4. For steps 7.4–7.7, I find the following settings a good place to start.

Of course, you can choose different preferences or come back later to tweak them.

Once you have an initial setup for the integration, though, click “Connect” in Todoist (step 8) to complete the process.

Conclusion

With these settings:

  • Any time you add a due time to a task in Todoist, you’ll also see that task on your Google Calendar. The due time in Todoist will be the event’s start time in Google Calendar.
  • You won’t sync to your Google Calendar any tasks without a due time (which they’ll all have, by definition, if you’re using them to time block).
  • You can easily change a task’s duration in Google Calendar. That will give you a visual representation of the block of time that task should take to complete.
  • Completed tasks will automatically leave your Google Calendar.

This will leave you with a Todoist task layer that you can then show or hide in your Google Calendar to help what you want to do when. And just as important, it can help you plan what not to do in order to devote more adequate time to higher priority activities.

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Uncertain about Integrating History and Theology?

It can be a challenge to read Scripture as a both a historical text and one that continues to address communities of faith.

Explorations in Interdisciplinary Reading contains 10 essays to help you address this challenge.

Among these essays is mine on “Rewriting Torah Obedience in Romans for the Church.”

A Simple Guide to When You Need to Capitalize “Gospel(s)”

As SBL Press has explicitly recognized, “One of the more confusing issues that writers in New Testament studies face is when to write Gospel and when to use gospel instead.”1

The key principles are “relatively straightforward until one begins actually writing; then questions inevitably arise.”2

The SBL Handbook of Style directly addresses the capitalization of “gospel(s)” in two sections.3 And SBL Press has provided a supplementary blog post of nearly 1000 words.4

But even with all of this explanation, the issue might still be cloudy. So below, I’ve tried to digest the essential tests for when you need to capitalize “gospel(s).”

I’ve also ordered the tests in a sequence to help you avoid nonstandard capitalization (especially with tests 2 and 4). So as you work through the list from top to bottom, you can stop when you find the right category, lowercase or capitalize accordingly, and move on.

1. If “gospel” is part of a title, capitalize it.

If you’re using “gospel” as part of the name for a title of a work, you need to capitalize it.

SBL Press considers forms like the following to be titles:

  • First Gospel
  • Matthew’s Gospel
  • Gospel of Matthew
  • Thomas’s Gospel
  • Gospel of Thomas

The same convention would apply to other forms of titles for literary works (e.g., “Gospel according to Matthew”).

If you’re not using “gospel” in the context of a title, keep working through the other tests below to see whether you need to capitalize or lowercase it.

2. If “gospel” is a “generic reference,” lowercase it.

SBL Press prefers “down style, that is, the use of fewer initial capital letters.”5

One of the ways SBL style expresses this preference is that “gospel” is lowercased when used as a “generic reference.”6

But what qualifies as a “generic reference”?

SBL Press doesn’t seem to explicitly define this category. But it appears to describe a way of referencing a work in a way that also identifies the genre of that work.

(Thus, “generic” includes the notion of “genre” rather than generality alone.)

If you’re unsure whether “gospel” is a generic reference, there are two tests you can use to decide:

  1. Try replacing “gospel” with “work” to see if the sentence makes sense (e.g., “In his gospel, Matthew …”).
  2. Check whether “gospel” is functioning as an adjective to modify another noun (e.g., “gospel narrative,” “gospel writers”).

If your use of “gospel” passes one of these two tests, you probably have a generic reference. So, you should lowercase “gospel.”

If neither of these tests works, move to the next test.

3. If “gospel” refers to a proclamation, lowercase it.

Often, “gospel” doesn’t refer to literature at all. Instead, it means the good news about Jesus, the kerygma.

An example would be a sentence like “At the beginning of 1 Cor 15, Paul summarizes the gospel he preached.”

Because “gospel” here refers to a proclamation, a message, or a body of good news, it needs to appear in lowercase.

If “gospel” doesn’t refer to a proclamation, keep working through the next test.

4. If “gospel” is a stand-in for a title, capitalize it.

If you’re using “gospel” alone as a stand-in for a title, you need to capitalize it.

It can be trickier to know when an instance of “gospel” counts as a stand-in for a title. But there is still a test that can help.

If you’re unsure whether “gospel” is a stand-in for a title, replace that word or the phrase that includes it “gospel” with the full title of the gospel.

If the replacement works, “gospel” is a stand-in for a title, and you need to capitalize it.—This assumes you’ve already determined above in step 2 that your use of “gospel” doesn’t qualify as a generic reference.

A great many uses of “gospel” by itself to reference a literary work actually fall into how SBL Press defines the generic reference category. By contrast, capitalizing “gospel” by itself as a stand-in for a title is pretty rare.

So you especially ensure your use of “gospel” isn’t a generic reference before you classify it as a stand-in for a title.

5. Always lowercase “gospels” except in the phrase “Synoptic Gospels.”

The SBL Handbook of Style recommends capitalizing “gospels” when it refers to a canonical division.7 But SBL Press now prefers lowercase in this instance.8

This change means that the only time you should capitalize the plural “gospels” is in the phrase “Synoptic Gospels.” (Similarly, the shorter “Synoptics” also gets capitalized.)9

6. Where needed, revise.

In some cases, you might not be satisfied with a sentence after you apply the capitalization that results from these tests.

In that event, consider revising the sentence until you’re satisfied with the capitalization it involves.10

Conclusion

Deciding whether to capitalize “gospel” language can be tricky. But you can cut through confusion with the following five principles:

  1. If “gospel” is part of a title, capitalize it.
  2. If “gospel” is a “generic reference,” lowercase it.
  3. If “gospel” refers to a proclamation, lowercase it.
  4. If “gospel” is a stand-in for a title, capitalize it.
  5. Always lowercase “gospels” except in the phrase “Synoptic Gospels.”

And of course, if you aren’t satisfied with a sentence based on these principles, you can always revise it until you get it into the shape you want it.


  1. Gospel versus Gospel,” weblog, SBL Handbook of Style, 15 November 2016, §1 (italics original). 
  2. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §1 (italics added). 
  3. Society of Biblical Literature, The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2014), §§4.3.4.1, 4.3.6. 
  4. “Gospel versus Gospel.” 
  5. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §2.2. 
  6. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §3.3. 
  7. SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2014), §4.3.6. 
  8. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §§1, 3.4. 
  9. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §§1, 3.1. 
  10. “Gospel versus Gospel,” §§2.4–2.5, 3.5. 

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