Weekly Thought – March 14, 2017
Fred understood protecting his time. He said, “Just as I don’t let other people spend my money, I don’t let others spend my time.” He was extremely generous with his time, even when his physical condition deteriorated to the point of incapacitation. But he also knew how to avoid time wasters and people with no clear purpose for meeting with him.
Most people spend time like they do money. They spend until suddenly they run short; then they try to find ways to compensate.
The best approach, of course, is a disciplined lifestyle that prevents time (or any other resource like energy, money, opportunities) from slipping away in the first place. Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Most time management books teach: Adopt a philosophy, implement it, and then maintain it as a way of life.
But in my experience, most people are not that disciplined. What they need is an emergency checklist to gain a few hours in the week – something to ease the frantic pace and get through the crunch. A number of alternatives exist: specific down periods during the week for catching up on administrative work; organized, scheduled retreats to plan future activities; an active, up-to-date calendar. One of the areas of focus most needed and most disregarded is the “eye on the goal.” Saying “is this expenditure of time advancing my mission, my plan?”
Occasionally an exhausted executive or ministry leader comes to me and I say, “You are under the gun, aren’t you? How much time would it take for you to catch up?”
More often than not the answer is, “If I just had five more hours a week!” If he or she is already working 50 hours a week that means a 10% increase to loosen up the load.
Here is a way to pick up five hours from any week you choose. It provides immediate and effective relief for those who are swamped. BUT IT IS FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY. As in dieting or spending money, the long-range answer is a better lifestyle that doesn’t require temporary bail-outs. So, mine is a battle plan, not a war strategy. You shouldn’t continue this emergency plan for longer than four to six weeks.
For example, if the leader is a pastor he can walk into the pulpit and say, “Folks, you’re not going to see as much of me for the next month. I’ve gotten behind in some very important things I need to do. What I have been doing is important and needful, but a catching up is required. I want your understanding the next four weeks while I get some of our pressing needs in good working order.”
Everyone in leadership can do this – and must as an emergency plan. People (from board members to staff) will understand a brief on-the-job refocus. But they will feel dismayed and annoyed if they find you excusing goof-off time and declaring it an emergency – it has to be legitimate.
This week think carefully about: 1) How am I handling the time/task pressures right now? 2) Do I have social media fasts to reduce the distractions? 3) What is my emergency plan for capturing some extra time?
Words of Wisdom: “Most people spend time like they do money. They spend until suddenly they run short; then they try to find ways to compensate.”
Wisdom from the Word: “And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NET Bible)