Do you have enough time to accomplish everything you want to get done?
Almost everyone who’s asked that question answers “Not really.”
The irony is that we all have exactly the same amount of time: 168 hours each week.
And yet some people manage to do extraordinary things with their time. Others not so much.
Too many leaders wonder where the time went and why they’re not getting half of their dreams started, let alone accomplished.
Why is that?
I’m not an expert on time management, but one of the questions I get asked almost every week is How do you manage to lead a church, blog, write, speak and still be a husband and dad?
Some of it for sure has to do with stage of life and personality. I have a healthy appetite for work, and my kids are grown or almost grown, and that helps in terms of daily demands. But that said, I don’t usually work 80 hours a week. I put in between 55-65 hours total between all my activities.
But I’m also a bit of a student of time management and regularly ask other leaders how they “get it all done”.
Here are 7 secrets I’ve discovered to getting more accomplished and still ending up with time for family, friends and fun things like cycling.
1. Don’t watch The Bachelorette
Let’s be honest, we all waste time. And sometimes that’s good. But most of the high capacity leaders I know don’t really know what’s going on on the Bachelorette or most other TV shows. They’re probably not levelling up on Grand Theft Auto or killing it on Candy Crush Saga either.
I asked one leader who works full time, has two businesses on the side and reads about 50 books a year how he reads that much. His answer? “I always have a book with me. Every time I wait for even a minute I read.” Well…that’s a good answer.
I watch TV intentionally…for education or intentional recreation (a night off…usually a movie with my wife or family). That’s it. I rarely if ever watch TV alone. On flights, I work or sleep. You’d be amazed how few people ever do anything productive on a flight. Redeem time.
If you want to accomplish more, waste less time.
2. Decide what you’re not going to do
This is just as important as deciding what you want to accomplish. Just eliminate whole categories of things that don’t contribute to your desired outcome.
It’s so easy to want to be all things to all people. But that’s a recipe for failure.
If you don’t decide what you’re not going to do, you will never be able to say no. And you will complain about it. For the rest of your life.
This builds on point 2. I had a harder time with this than most. Delegation is key. You need to release control and let others lead. Align them, build into them, coach them but let them lead.
I think failure to delegate is one of the key reasons most churches never break the 200 attendance barrier (See this for more on that issue—including 7 other reasons churches fail to grow.)
So what can you delegate? Plenty. At Connexus, we delegate pastoral care to groups and counsellors so staff can focus on developing leaders and advancing the mission.
As Andy Stanley says, God has gifted someone else to do the things you’re not good at and may not even like. So don’t waste time doing things you don’t do well or shouldn’t do.
When you delegate, you release the potential in others and in yourself.
4. Spend 80% of your time in your ‘sweet spot’
This frees you up to do what you’re best at—your sweet spot. For me that’s leading the vision and mission, creating content, positioning our church for the future, communicating and leading leaders. You probably have a different sweet spot, but figure out what it is and spend most of your time in it as soon as possible.
When you spend time in your sweet spot, everyone is better for it.
Better yet, you’ll be passionate about what you do. Imagine that.
Spend 80% of your time on what produces 80% of your results.
5. Manage energy more than you manage time
You only have so much time. But you have even less energy. You can’t run 24 hours a day, or even 18. Not well anyway.
I have about 6 great hours every day. Guess what I do with them? Tackle my biggest projects. Then I can use the remaining 4 hours for work doing less important things like answering email or going to meetings. Use your best energy on your biggest challenges.
If you manage your energy well, you’ll always feel like you have more time.
6. Get up early
I love getting up around 5 every day. My quiet time with God is…quiet. I can get more done before 8 a.m. than I would get done in 5 or 6 hours if I started at 9.
People don’t call text or email before 8. You just get more done, and my brain is rested and refreshed. I am usually done my blogging before 7 a.m. Even when my kids were younger, I’d put in an hour or two before they were even up.
Your momma was right: early to bed and early to rise…
7. Stop Being One of the Walking Dead
So I’m a huge fan of sleep. I get between 6-8 hours almost every night.
Most people are sleep deprived. They never reach their full potential because they operate in zombie mode. Get to bed early, sleep as soundly as possible. I realize this is hard when the kids are very young, but for most of your life you’ll be able to do this.
I also take a nap almost every day. Even when I have a great night’s sleep the night before. 20 minutes at lunch makes me feel like I have a new day in front of me.
Do what you need to do to rest your body. You’ll have so much left over for everyone…including your family when you get home.
If you don’t take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you.
Those are 7 things that have helped me become far more productive than I used to be.
What’s helping you? And conversely, what keeps tripping you up?