There are so many good materials on time management that I have read over the past decade. As a pioneer it seems to be one of the subjects that is constantly having to be defined and then redefined because your activities of how you commit your time consistantly evolve when you are in pioneer mode.
I myself have gone through dramatic shifts every year I have pioneered and have had to constantly reset to my original boundaries and priorities. I haven’t had a good 8 hour session of video games in a long time…because I haven’t prioritized it…but I digress.
Up until the time when we came to Hollywood I had never seen time as a commodity in my life. I always seemed to be able to find time for everything before…time for family and friends, time for projects, time for every ministry appointment, time for creating….then we moved here and as I started the real purpose I was made for I began to fill up my calendar with so many things that I had no time. I constantly realized that I never had extra time or breaks unless I made them.
IF YOU DON’T MANAGE YOUR TIME SOMEONES NEED OR DESIRE WILL FOR YOU
As a pioneer you must have clear priorities on your time. You have to know what are the important things you are working on and bring every day back to that focus. If you don’t do this the great needs of the world, people’s brokenness, projects that are just one-off projects that don’t build anything but feel good, and all kinds of other things will come in and use your energy but they won’t necessarily establish the fulfillment of your priorities.
One thing our leadership counselor had us do is establish the top 3 priorities in our relationships and then our jobs and manage our time around these. It helped immensely because I realized how much I was doing that did not match my core values of what I am supposed to be doing and I was letting way too many life fillers in to my time. That is just crazy but it becomes clear when you have priorities set.
PEOPLE WILL SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU IF YOU DON’T SPEND TIME WITH LIFE GIVERS
It’s so easy to feel good helping people with problems or to help them get established in life or values. Lots of leaders get a rush out of helping someone break through their problems. This is great, but do you have the same energy or more for your core life relationships.
We all have spheres of relationships we have to build. There is our core relationship (wife/husband/bestest friend in all the world) then there is 3-5 other friendships/family that we do real life with, we sacrifice for, we celebrate, we endure hardship with, etc. Then there are 5-12 others that we check in with through work and projects but they tend to transcend these projects or work in their nature and become lifers. Then there is everyone else. If you don’t have clear spheres of relationship in your mind then you begin to violate the boundaries of love that you have for one and substitute another in their place and your relationships get very out-of-order.
Most pioneers feel justified sacrificing their core few relationships from time to time for the sake of helping someone or working hard. It just feels right to put everything on the back burner because we are accomplishing the foundation of our mission and once that foundation is set we will revert back to a better normal. Maybe we will have finally be established enough financially or management structure wise so we feel great just working really hard right past the very life we are trying to build. Do you see it? You stop honoring your core relationships the same way for the sake of building something in hopes that you will bring greater honor to those very relationships later? Your main relationships don’t need you later they need you now and you need them!
I have done that especially in regards to forgetting to send birthday cards or make calls on significant days of my friends and family outside of what I am building. I even wasn’t there a few crises times of my core life friends because I was helping the whole world and my relationships got disconnected and suffered because of my messiah complex. Then in significant times during my life people who I cared about stopped celebrating me with the same enthusiasm and I also had people who were no longer there when I was going through a hard time who were always there. Why? Because I had changed my value for them by my prioritizing them out of my core. I never used words, but what I spoke through action communicated volumes. It’s hard to get these back but if your kids, your family, your best friends outside of what you are building (and sometimes inside) are getting disconnected you are not building right.
TIME IS A TICKING BOMB
If you are setting your priorities then no matter what :you are in charge of how you get to spend your time establishing those priorities. Some of you are working under a job description someone has given you while many or most of you are probably establishing your own job description. I would encourage you to do that in the most clear way, define how many hours it takes you to do what you do each week, keep a little time journal for a month and look back on what was consuming your time and see if it lines up with your relational and work priorities. If you are your own boss, manage yourself as part of your management structure and be disciplined with your own time.
For me I have to pour into a team of 7 as my main priority in Expression58 plus build two departments with department leaders. This is like having 3 part-time jobs so they must have grace for my time schedule and I theirs. I also barely get paid for any of this, but have been doing it as a volunteer which means my itinerant job will have to take priority from time to time. We all have difficult arrangements in pioneering that will affect our priorities in time management. Maybe you work a job and run your ministry, maybe you don’t raise enough money through your budget to hire team so you have a lot of volunteers that don’t work with your enthusiasm yet, etc. There are always complications when pioneering that affect how your overall organization meets its priorities and how time is used.
I have to spend my time with my main leaders, so when I have the 300 people ask me for an appointment in LA I have made a list of them and I first look at my core relationships I am committed too and see if I have spent the right amount of time with them. I have their faces up on a graphic that I can look at every week and pray into their lives and see what kind of coaching, friendship, mentoring, love I can give them. If I feel like I am meeting those needs then I move on to my long list of people who want to meet.
IF I MET WITH EVERY AMAZING PERSON WHO CAME MY WAY THE REST OF MY LIFE WOULD SUFFER
As a pioneer leader you will always have lots of people who want to meet with you. I make a list when I get a card or contact of someone who wants to connect and ask myself a few questions: 1) Is this someone I have the time to meet with. Have they been involved with us for a while or are they just wanting a connection? 2) Can someone else on my team meet with them to bring them up to speed with who we are and how we can connect further 3) Do they have something they are offering? Do we need what they have to offer right now? Can it fit within our time priorities or would we have to slow down what God has us focused on to bring what they have to us? 4) Or are they needing something and if they are am I the right person to give it to them? 5) Are they a happily relational person who has successful time management skills so they are coming to me out of their strength or are they needing discipleship in which case I might need to point them somewhere before we connect in a more significant way so that they don’t have false expectations?
Now understand for me I know what I don’t do so I have a great filter when people are talking to me and asking me for something. I don’t do counseling appointments, I do very little personal discipleship outside of my team, I don’t do advisory boards very often, I won’t become an intercessor for someones project. I don’t marry people, I don’t do hospital visitations, I don’t visit people in jail, I don’t speak at youth groups, singles conferences, or young adult focused meetings. In other words like I said, I know what I don’t do so I can clearly tell someone when they are coming to me asking for something or wanting to connect their talent, skill, or ability to us, as one of the figure heads of who our community is it is my role to be a funnel of relationship and help them to know who can help them or where the connection lay. I have raised up people who do all the things I don’t do and you can too.
I also know what I do focus on. I do leadership consultation, I release prophetic ministry, I work on entertainment projects as an advisory, I write articles and books and stories, I do a lot of impartation and prayer ministry, I do outreach, I do team discipleship, etc. So when someone comes across my path and if I can help them in an area of my strength or expertise I am glad to if I have the time for it.
IF YOU VIOLATE YOUR RELATIONAL TIME MANAGEMENT THEN YOU WILL KEEP PAYING
The problem with relationship time management is that if I give my time to someone who has needs other than the people I have prioritized then often times I will have to follow all the way through their issue until its done. This means a marriage that breaks down becomes my responsibility to help if I allow them to start the counseling process with me instead of help them find someone who can really spend the time and energy it takes to break through in that issue. This can turn into a 20-200 hour time consumer. Now for someone who has a passion to help marriages or a counselor, this is what they want to do and what they will be good at and it will not take away from their time but is part of their time priorities do you see?
If you begin to do the crises management of your group then you will lose most of your best energy to putting out fires. I know leaders who ten years later still find themselves putting out fires that are basically a fire started by pettiness on the team that would be better managed by doing some character building then crises management later. If you live in crises management mode your prioritized relationships will be violated. If you find yourself dealing with more than 2 crises a year that take real-time and energy I challenge you that have taken on a wrong role. Maybe I will write a blog on team or ministry crises management sometime.
BUT I HAVE TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM THEY ARE AMAZING OR THIS OPPORTUNITY IS TOO GOOD TO PASS UP!
What happens to those good things that fall through the cracks because your time management didn’t include them? Either you as a pioneer can raise someone up to take care of them through hiring an assistant, having an associate leader, raising up team, etc. or it wasn’t as important for you to take on in this stage of your life in the first place. I don’t mean the opportunity wasn’t real or important but was it for you now? When you are walking in what you are called to do you will always have a cycle of great opportunities come to you….your responsibility is not just to say yes to everything. Your responsibility is to learn out of your own value for an amazing life, what makes sense for right now. As a successful person you will say no sometimes even more than yes to opportunities. Train yourself now to protect and guard what you have said yes to so you can become excellent and successful to that even if by saying no to an opportunity that seems huge makes you feel like you are missing something. If you stay committed to your original plan out of faithfulness you will see results that taking on other projects or opportunities and cycling through them will never give you. Picture marriage…if you are married your heart is off the market to any other person so if something that seems great comes along you easily let it go because of your covenant commitment and your history to what you are committed too.
Sometimes amazing people fall through the cracks of your time management, but just because people are amazing doesn’t mean they are your relationship sphere or that you need to take time for them now. Some of my best opportunities to meet with people came when I was already committed to other things so I had to trust God and my own value in what I was building and say no. This is a really hard one for pioneers because we are dependent on building our relational sphere in order to create more opportunities, finances, etc. Its hard to get by in to what we are doing if we don’t meet with the right people at the right time but you know what? If you are relationaly successful you will keep attracting the right kind of people to what you are building. Its more important to be faithful to the relationships that you are clearly called to cultivate than to keep adding new appointments in hopes that new areas may or may not open up for your calling or purpose.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME BY DOING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY MEANS YOU WILL BE FULFILLED
When you set good boundaries to your time you actually fulfill what you are called to do. I hope that you find yourself successful in your time management!!!
That’s it for now,
One good time management book is called MARGINS
My Dating Book, The Non Religious Guide To Dating & Being Single, came out in a digital release and is soooo good! It will be out in printed release Valentines Day. If you want to preorder it you can starting next week! If you want to carry it in your resource center or bookstore contact Andrea Bocks at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will tell you how to order bulk.