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Making the Most of Your Time

Written by Chuck Olson

As a leadership coach, over time you see reoccurring themes in the lives of leaders. Truth be told, they are as predictable as meatballs at a smorgasbord. Unquestionably, one of those themes is TIME. Every leader is in a daily, sleeves-rolled-up, all-out battle to maximize this priceless and non-renewable commodity.

Several months ago, I read a book that I found particularly helpful for me personally and for those I coach in both the understanding and practice of leveraging time. Best-selling author Todd Duncan, in his book Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Professionals, comes knocking at the door of every leader when he says: Nearly every professional has a challenge with time. It is the most repetitive and pervasive problem I’ve come across in fifteen years of speaking and training, and it doesn’t just go away.

With a desire to elevate your capacity to make the most of your time, this post will shine the spotlight on a handful of Todd Duncan’s insights. More than likely, his insights will serve as an unanticipated invitation to slow down, step back, and revisit your time with fresh eyes. Take a look.

  • Reality Check

Early on in a career it might seem like a winnable challenge to take on everything that comes your way. But the longer you work, the sooner you realize that the pace of a professional career doesn’t slow down involuntarily. The more responsibility you assume, the faster the river travels; eventually it can drown you if you underestimate the force of its current. Usually it leaves you struggling just to keep your head above water. You must first acknowledge the life-sapping power of your river of responsibilities if you are to ever muster the courage to overcome its unforgiving current.

  • Boundaries

I’ve said this for years: if you don’t put boundaries on your business, you won’t have balance in your life. In other words, without boundaries on your work responsibilities you won’t have free time for your life responsibilities and opportunities. On the other hand, with boundaries regulating your flow of tasks, your time for life has far greater potential.

  • Task Management

First, you have to understand that since you cannot manage your time, the only way to organize your day is by managing your daily tasks. Task management—not time management—is the foundation of organization. If you can learn to harness the tasks that crowd your days, you will realize more freedom with your time. Put another way: to free yourself from the traps that are monopolizing your time you must manage the things that occupy your time: tasks.

  • Failure

People with a healthy perspective on failure don’t let their emotions go beyond disappointment. Once faced with the reality of a mistake, they adjust their attitude and, with resolve, take the necessary actions to learn from their error and move forward with improved action. Ultimately, such people end up in a better position than when they started. The paradox of failure is that while it’s not the most productive path we can take, it is often the most efficient teacher we can have. The most productive people understand this and, as a result, are willing to risk failure to succeed.

  • Your Identity

Unfortunately, too often our job becomes more than part of our identity. It becomes all of our identity, and we rarely know it has happened. In the pursuit of success and significance, many of us begin selling our souls.

Not only does an identity wrapped up in work sap our identities, it keeps us from realizing our dreams. In essence, it changes who we are now and who we will become.

  • Your Soul

Your spiritual heart is the epicenter, the soul of your most desired life. And like your physical heart, if neglected your spiritual heart will eventually stop beating; and your life will seem a dismal existence, an ambivalent passing of time until death. On the outside, you might continue to live a life of quiet desperation—going through the motions—but on the inside you will have expired, having given up your once high hopes of a beautiful life.

You might want to read that last paragraph again. Slowly. Very slowly.

The author is on to something. Something big. We live in a world that short sells the things in live that matter most. Jesus—the wisest person who ever walked the earth—put it this way: “What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?”

As leaders committed to leading from the inside out, let’s leverage the valuable gift of time, not to accumulate more, but to be more. Not to produce more, but to become more.

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Note to our readers: Part of the mission of Lead With Your Life is to provide exceptional resources for you. To that end, each month, LWYL publishes a set of booknotes from a wide variety of books written by authors, past and present, who have given considerable thought to life and leadership. If you would like to receive these complimentary BookNotes, subscribe here.

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  • Steve says:

    Boundaries for leaders is a topic not much discussed. Thank you.

  • george says:

    “The more responsibility you assume, the faster the river travels; eventually it can drown you if you underestimate the force of its current. Usually it leaves you struggling just to keep your head above water. You must first acknowledge the life-sapping power of your river of responsibilities if you are to ever muster the courage to overcome its unforgiving current.” Keeping a balance or responsibilities without being drowned by them is my struggle.

  • Andre says:

    “Not only does an identity wrapped up in work sap our identities, it keeps us from realizing our dreams.” If I had a nickel for every time I fell into that trap, I’d never have to work again!

    Powerful insights – a helpful reminder at any time of day, and in every season of leadership…

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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