Author: Bob O'Dell

Published Date: August 27, 2016

This article is meant to encourage a few of you, in a topic that is rarely discussed: your life as it relates to TIME.

While it is common to think of ourselves in terms of categories like “introverted” or “extroverted”, “thinking” or “feeling”, etc, many of us have never been validated for the way in which we relate to time. I have rarely heard this discussed by anyone, so I’ll make up my own terms.  The question goes like this:

Do you live in “burst time“, or “cycle time“?


Cycle Time and Burst Time Explained

If you live in “cycle time” you find yourself being most productive and comfortable when your schedule of activities fits on regular cycles. For instance, you might feel best when you pray at the same time every day (or night). When you have a project to finish, you often make progress a regular intervals by allocating a certain portions of time every day, week, or month. It’s not that this is the ONLY way you work, but it is your preferred way. Have you ever considered this in the light of “you are receiving grace to do the work God requires, on planned cycles?”

However, if you live in ‘burst time” you find yourself being most productive and comfortable to spend a burst of energy on a given project when the mood strikes you, and this mood can come upon you just about anytime. You may find yourself with “longer than wanted” periods of low productivity, or even inactivity, followed by a burst of high productivity. Furthermore, when these bursts of high productivity come, you often wish you could just “stay in that moment” and push off everything else, to get the most out of this period. Have you considered this in the light of “you are receiving a burst of grace to do that particular work God requires?”

Now, unfortunately, if you are older than 40, you grew up in a generation that valued cycle time productivity much higher than burst time productivity. In fact, it was brought upon us party by technology. We as “the TV generation” were forced to fit our schedules around those special TV shows we wanted to watch, that is, at least until video recorders were invented. Things are different now. Our children are growing up in a whole new world of streaming internet content that allows them to watch content on our own schedules. This is perfect for burst time people, not only because they can catch a favorite show after their “burst of productivity” has ended, but also because even the shows themselves can be watch in a burst, if they so desire.

Which is Better?

I do not consider that either cycle time or burst time in inherently better than the other. I believe that both were created by God. Daniel seems to prefer cycle time (e.g. his life was about order and precision, and he prayed three times a day), whereas Jeremiah seemed to be a burst time person (e.g. he was always connecting with people in unscheduled, and unanticipated ways; and in a massive burst of energy and grief, wrote Lamentations).

The difference between cycle time and burst time, is also expressed by God in the difference between the Jubilee and the Messiah.  The Jubilee year brings freedom and release within a precise, pre-planned cycle every fifty years (i.e. Leviticus 25), while the Messianic redemption, brings freedom and release in a sudden burst of energy and grace upon the earth (e.g. Isaiah 61).

So while both types of time are valid, if you are an older burst time person like me, you may well have suffered from a lack of validation from the cycle time people around you. You may have felt that you were “less than” as a child, because you could not just sit down at regular intervals and make the progress that was expected of you. As you grew up, went out on your own, and found the joy and benefit of living as a burst time person, you might have then looked back, and looked down upon all of those cycle time people, who were living a life that was seemingly boring and constrained!

Yet, while we will have a natural preference for one kind of time, or the other, I believe that God desires us to not just enjoy our preference, but to eventually grow in our faith in our area of weakness. After all, we are commanded by God to live within both worlds of time: planned time, as well as the suddenly’s of life. We should over time, grow in faith, by trusting that God will give us what we need even in our area of time weakness.

An Example: Jewish Life in Prayer

Jewish life in prayer is a good example. Consider Jewish men who must pray three times a day, in gatherings of at least ten men. If you are a burst time Jewish man, the Jewish prayer practice of praying 45 minutes every morning, 15 minutes every afternoon and 15 minutes every evening, might seem very cyclical and constraining. But, even within Jewish life there is flexibility. First, the afternoon prayer is not at one exact time, but can prayed roughly anytime between about noon and sundown. Similarly the evening prayer can be prayed anytime between sundown and bedtime. One of the more popular prayer arrangements for me is to come together to pray the afternoon prayer just before sundown, and then after a very brief break at sundown, to come right back and start the evening prayer just after sundown. Given that I am a burst time person, if I were a Jewish male, I would want to “burst” those prayers together, and leave larger blocks of time in the day and evening available.


Example: Root Source Newsletter – A Clever Trick you Probably Don’t Know!

At Root Source, our newsletter may seem at first glace to only be a great fit for cycle time people, given that it goes out at every Monday at 4PM Israel time, 9AM Eastern US time, and given that we tend to break up long videos into 15 minute increments, and put them out in successive weeks. We do this so the cycle time people know what to expect and can plan for it within their allotted reading time.

But how do we help the burst time people?

Our newsletter accommodates burst time people too — although most of you have never noticed it!  Every article or video we publish in the newsletter, when you click it, takes you to the Root Source blog to read it or watch it. That is where you are right now, reading this article. But here is a great trick:  If you just click the “Next” or “Previous” buttons at the top of the blog, you will step through all our newsletter content by subject!  You don’t need to keep going back and forth between the newsletter and the videos, because they are already present on the blog.  Just click “Next” or “Previous“.

But it gets even better.  Take for instance the absolutely delightful video we just published in this week’s newsletter on Israeli Member of Knesset Sharren Haskel. If you click on the newsletter you can watch “Part 1” of that interview on our blog.  Part 2 doesn’t come out in our newsletter until next week. But if you click the “Next” button on that blog page, you will immediately go to Part 2 of that interview, without even waiting till next week!  This means that burst time people can go ahead and enjoy our newsletter content by subject, without waiting for each piece to roll out in the newsletter.

click next

It also works in reverse.  If you land on “Part 2” of a certain feature, but you didn’t watch Part 1 yet, you can just click the “Previous” button on the blog page and it will take you back to Part 1, so you can watch them in sequence.

Oh, and the last five blog postings are always available at the bottom of our Root Source HOME PAGE.

One Last Trick – YouTube

I have noticed some people as fitting into a special category of what I call “fast time” people. They want to know about new content as fast as it become available. These are the kind of people who buy tickets for the very first showing of a film at 12 Midnight. Anyway, if this is YOU, then if you subscribe to our Root Source YouTube channel, you will get indications from YouTube whenever a new video has been published. It’s not a replacement for the larger content of our newsletter, but it DOES serve as an indicator to go check the blog.


Time to End this Blog Post

So whether God has made you first and foremost as a cycle time person, or a burst time person we hope to honor you and accommodate you as best we can. And where we fall short and lean very strongly to one kind or person or the other, if that is not your strength, then may God give you the grace to accept us in a way that allows us all to grow in God’s grace together.

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