Time management problems? Look deeper.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try or how smart we are – we cannot do it all. No leader can take on every task, know all possible answers, anticipate every single issue or physically do all jobs. But, yet we try.

A few weeks ago, a group of volunteers was helping me complete a task. Each of us had taken materials and had done what we were assigned to finish the project. And, then this week, I realized that the job was not done, a significant amount of work was yet to be completed. I pulled out supplies and got started. As I organized the materials, my mind kept going to my “to do” list. There were several items on the list that only I can do. I began to get just a little frustrated with my lack of planning and picked up the pace; but, the more I worked, the clearer it became how much time was needed – I couldn’t do it and also do the things on my “to do” list. It was then that I remembered the two (not one, but two) calls I had received from a volunteer just the day before. She wanted to tell me that she would be happy to complete the project. I bundled up the raw materials, called her back, and set a time for us to meet. As I left the unfinished project on her back porch, I understood again my own limitations.

Many of us had taken time management courses. They teach us things like:

  • Start the day by planning your day.
  • Keep a record of what you do and become aware of time wasters.
  • Restrict the amount of time that you spend on email, phone calls, meetings and social media.
  • Do the important tasks first.
  • Limit distractions.

All of those (and other hints) are great. But, I believe that there is sometimes a deeper reason why time management is tough for so many: we make the mistake of believing that we are the only ones who can do the job.

I’ve been there.

  1. A tough project is ahead.
  2. We want it to be done well.
  3. We have experience that we think makes us unique.
  4. We question if others can be trusted; perhaps they have let us down in the past.
  5. We like doing the task.

We must recognize that only items one and two above are legitimate; the others reflect arrogance, selfishness and stubbornness. And when a leader adopts an attitude of pride, other people are diminished, resources are squandered and mission accomplishment is jeopardized.

Having a tough time getting the job done? Let’s start by considering what jobs we are doing. Does our “to do” list include tasks that really should belong to others? Have we let a spirit of pride influence our perspective?

Maybe it is time to make some changes.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3)

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