Are You Leading? Part 7

As we finish this series of posts, I want to share the third tip that I believe will help you lead your own life efficiently:

3.  Control your phone.  There is no such thing as a smart phone.  They don’t have personality traits or IQ’s.  They are our servants that should be around for our beckoning.  However, many times they control us.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been talking to a person about a life changing issue (keep in mind he asked me for some of my time) when his phone rang (or played a sample of some country music song).  Then, he lifted up his index finger to interrupt our conversation and said “I’ve got to get this”.  Next would follow a couple of sentences about things that could have been taken care of after our conversation. 

My sister told me something I’ve held on to for years: “Just because my phone rings doesn’t mean I have to answer it”.  Great advice.  Don’t get me wrong, we should be prompt to return calls and be available to people who need us.  We just need to make sure that we control our phone schedule and our phone does not control us.

There are so many other tools for leading others by first leading ourselves.  For more resources, you could google “time management” which would give you a sea of things to read….which would probably take up more of your time.  I suggest picking up the book “Today Matters” by Maxwell.

In summary, most people are influenced by other people.  We possess the ability to influence others for the cause of Christ or any other worthwhile cause.  However, leading others begins with leading ourselves. 

So, are you leading?

Are You Leading? Part 6

Continuing with last post’s topic of leading ourselves through attacking our days and staying focused….here’s the next tip:

2.  Shut your door.  I’ve found that leaving my office door open or closed sends a certain message to people on the outside.  I used to leave my door open at all times when I was working, but almost everyone for any reason would stop by my door and say or suggest something that would completely throw me off my train of thought or task.  It’s not that I want to be left alone.  In fact, the opposite is true and therein lies the problem.  I enjoy the people I see and work with ever single day.  I’m easily distracted with what they are saying and doing to the extent that it can keep me from what I should or must do.  When I shut my door, it sends a signal to everyone that I’m working on something that must be done.  People may still interrupt, but it is usually brief. 

Maybe you don’t work in an office setting.  Maybe you work at home, or somewhere else.  Can you shut your door to the interruptions?  How can you send a message to others that what you are doing is important enough that needs your full uninterrupted attention?

Are You Leading? Part 5

I hope you are all still reading this blog even though I challenged you to skip your lunch last post.  The idea isn’t to work harder; it is to work smarter and more efficient.  If we are going to be leaders worth following, we are going to have to first learn to lead ourselves.  That’s the point of this series of posts.  Lead yourself so you can lead/influence others at home, work, or in the community.

Today, I want to talk about attacking the day and staying on course.  So much of our daily goals and duties don’t get completed because of  unplanned interruptions and distractions. 

How many times have you set out to finish something in a day only to be interrupted before you even got started?  Then, after you’d finished the unplanned interruption, there wasn’t enough time to do what was supposed to be important.  Sub sequentially, you leave your workday feeling disappointed with how little you got accomplished and upset because you will now have to start the next day running behind.  I can articulate this so well because it has happened to me many times.  It can happen to me daily if I don’t attack my day with a sense of mission. 

Note: Over the years I’ve heard and read some good teaching on daily routine.  One of the best I’ve read is “Today Matters” by John Maxwell.  Some of what I’m writing here is from this awesome book.

Here are a few things that I do to help me stay on course each day.

1.  Plan your work day the day before.  Although I have a weekly schedule that can be viewed a year in advance, daily tasks are only put on my calendar a few days ahead.  Many things can change, but I almost always look at my schedule and make some changes the evening before I leave work.  The next morning, I look at the day’s schedule and prioritize the things that I should get done.  The key is to know what you are going to do before you get to work.  Remember, if you don’t plan your day, someone else will (I can’t remember who said that). 

I’ll post more in a couple of days.

Are You Leading? Part 4

We recently discussed planning our days in segments and having clear “stopping points”  for our meetings and days.  Today I want to talk about another tip that has helped me lead by managing my time. 

Ready?  Here it is:

Skip Lunch. 

Okay, before you discard what I am about to write, finish reading. 

Yes, of course eat, but does it really take 1-1/2 hours?  I found that on days when I needed to absolutely get something done, skipping lunch was the easiest way to stay on task.  You can bring your lunch or take your lunch with you to work.  Either way, it only takes 10-20 minutes to eat and get back to work.  I know that there are people who work on the clock who are paid by the hour.  This point may not apply to you; however, to those who are paid salary or by the job, I think this point is a good one.   

As we were discussing saving time at faithco, I challenged our team to skip lunch as often as possible.  We needed to stop loading up in cars together and taking an hour and a half or so at Chili’s.  One of my goals as their leader is to get the most out of them in a work day and get them home as early as possible to their families.  I asked them: “Wouldn’t you rather spend that extra hour at home with your family?”  Not only can you save time, but you will eat better and feel better if you plan to skip your lunch and eat at work… skip the enchilada platter and have a sandwich in the break room.  You will save time, stay focused on your work,  and you won’t feel like taking a nap when you get back to your job.

Are You Leading? Part 3

As we have discussed earlier, our ability to influence and lead other starts with our ability to lead ourselves.  Leading ourselves means a lot of things, but I believe the way we manage our time is a big factor in any leadership scenario.

Ministry work like many other jobs can be very challenging and consuming with our time.  We often take ministry home, and it is hard to gauge just how much time a staff member spends doing ministry work.   When we can’t gage how much time a task takes, or even worse, don’t know the “stopping point”  of a day, it’s easy to feel over worked.

There are a few things that we have decided to do on our faithco team to help us manage out time better.  You may agree or even implement these in your place of work.

Here they are:

1.  Plan your day and week in time segments.  For example, my Monday morning schedule is in increments of hour or half hour slots.  Here’s a look: 

  • Arrive at church at 8:30am
  • Leadership Team meeting from 9:00am – 11:00am
  • Message/media meeting 11:00am – 12:00pm. 

2.  Have a stopping point for all tasks and meetings.  Not only do I try to keep my meetings within the scheduled time, but I try to leave at the same time every day.  Most people have a certain time they leave from work every day.  In ministry, there is not a whistle or bell that goes off every day at 5:00pm.  We have to have a stopping point and stick to it.

I’ll post more in later….hope this is helpful.

Are You Leading Part 2

I believe the first thing we must learn about leading is the discipline of self leading.

 1 Timothy 4:8 says this:“train yourself for godliness” ESV

The Apostle Paul offered the previous words to his apprentice, Timothy.  Timothy was a young pastor who was being mentored by Paul and was leading a New Testament church.

I believe one of the things that Paul was trying to teach Timothy was that before we can think about leading others, we must be a leader worth following.  Also,  being this kind of a leader means learning to lead one’s self.

While working for UPS twelve years, one of the things that I certainly learned was time management.  I don’t know protocol for the company today, but twenty years ago almost everything a worker did was timed down to the minute.

For example, a driver had approximately 10-15 seconds to step up into the brown truck, put away the electronic clipboard, sit down, buckle up, start the engine, look in both mirrors, look over his left hand shoulder, release parking brake, and get down the road.  Would you believe me if I told you I could do this task in around 5 seconds?  Don’t be too impressed, a lot of the drivers could do this.  We were timed on getting in and out of the truck, putting fuel into the truck, changing a flat, going from one stop to another, checking in at night, and moving a package from one place to another.  Everything was accounted for in our daily schedule.  Believe me, I learned time management at UPS.

Applying the UPS standard to our everyday lives might seem a little extreme and I don’t recommend it.  However, when I tell someone I don’t have enough time to do something, my mind sometimes goes back to how much I could get done in 9-10 hours at UPS. 

Sometimes our lives seem crazy because we are not guarding our time and using it efficiently.  Our ability to lead others begins with our abilities to lead ourselves;  leading ourselves well means efficient effective time management. 

In the next post, I’ll give some examples for what I believe to be better time management.