Ask almost any leader what they want most at the office and the answer will be some version of, "I just want more time to do the things I need to do." However, more time may not be the answer to getting more done.
My observation is that the greatest enemy of effective time management is the continuous flow of interruptions or distractions. Distractions usually come in the form of technology. I frequently teach about the ever present threat of the tech doom loop. We stop to check email, Facebook, Twitter, text messages and various apps. By the time we finish checking everything, it's time to check email again and therein lies the loop.
Interruptions from outside the office door, often only interrupt the distractions disguised as progress. Leaders can protect themselves from interruptions better than distractions. Some of us have a guard at the gate. Some leaders require appointments. Other leaders have an always-open door to encourage interruption of the distractions.
Like most leaders, I've resigned myself to think I'm NOT going to be able to make proactive progress between the hours of 8-5. It seems to me the big stuff happens early, late and on weekends. But I have made one addition to my work plan for the day that may be useful for you.
I set aside one hour of each day that I call my ZERO HOUR. During the hour I have zero tolerance for distractions. No tech, no email, no nothing but proactive thinking, writing or doing. I prefer to have no interruptions during zero hour, but I'm not always able to control my door. Remember, a zero hour happens during work hours when the office is full.
I'm holding myself accountable to get away from my computer screens and phone and shut down for an hour of progress. I do not allow myself any excuses for why I must break my rules during zero hour. I've been amazed at how one simple hour can make such an impact on progress.
But I also want to mention the most important hour of the day occurs before anyone is in the office with me. Most of you have a similar time. Mine is called a power hour. During this hour, I have my devotions and prayer time. My prayer time consists of praying over the list I keep of promises I've made to pray for others. The list is long. I also pray for every member of my team, by name, every morning.
When I watched the movie War Room, I was encouraged to enhance my prayer time by writing specific Scripture to read as I make specific requests and claims for others. I find this time of prayer to have very little "bless me, bless me" need-based prayer. I can pray those prayers all day. The power hour is devoted to others. I depend upon my power hour to launch my day. I have no distractions and no interruptions.
Perhaps a zero hour and a power hour could be useful in your day.
Becoming intentional about time management is another way to honor what God has given us.
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven ... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Eccl. 3:1, 7).
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
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