Cut to the Chase

If you ask any leader, or anyone for that matter, they will tell you that they need more time to get done what they want to get done. While I’ve always believed, you have time to do everything you want to do, there are some things you can do to maximize your time and what you get done. Enter Stuart Levine’s little book Cut to the Chase and 99 Other Rules to Liberate Yourself and Gain Back the Gift of Time.

What Levine writes is nothing earth shattering (most time saving ideas aren’t), but they are incredibly helpful and practical.

Here are the ones that jumped or ones that I had put into place before reading the book:

  1. Take control. At the end of the day, this is the ball game when it comes to saving time. Who controls your time? You or someone else?
  2. Turn your email off. With phones and wireless, you can access email anywhere, and it can access you anywhere. When you are doing something that you want to focus on, turn it off. When I am working on my sermon, my email is off. I check it at certain times each day, respond to emails and then turn it off. It boils down to you controlling your life and time or letting someone else do it.
  3. When you got the point, say so. This wastes so much time, listening to people drone on and on after you got the point. How many meetings could be stopped by telling someone, “I got it, let’s move on.”
  4. Start earlier. It is amazing what getting in front of my computer even 30 minutes earlier than I used to can do to my day. I starts quicker, I get more done and I feel less rushed.
  5. Do the most important thing first. At the beginning of the day, decide “what is the one thing I have to get done today.” Whatever that is, start with that. This helps you get that thing done, gives you the most time to do it and helps you to be more strategic in how you used your time instead of being a prisoner of the urgent.
  6. Bag consensus. Too many pastors get caught up in trying to get buy in. While I believe you should “seek permission” when it comes to decisions, leaders have to lead and sometimes that means making a call that isn’t the most popular. At the end of a discussion, make a decision and make sure everyone will stand behind it publicly and then move forward. Lead.
  7. Teach people how to use your time. Someone will control your time and often we are more than happy to let everyone else control it. If you block out time for meetings, writing, reading, let people know. For me, Wednesday – Friday mornings are sermon prep time. I don’t have my phone or email on (see above) because that time is crucial to the life and health of our church. When you create guidelines and expectations, stick to them.
  8. Don’t waste other people’s time. If you want people to value your time, value theirs. Be on time for a meeting, be prompt in responding to them. If you ask someone to do something, know what you specifically you want them to do, know if you need their time.
  9. Two minute rule. If it can be done in 2 minutes, do it and don’t put it on your to do list.
  10. Know when you aren’t needed. As a leader, you don’t need to be at everything. It would be nice and many leaders would like to know all the details, but it is unnecessary. Sometimes, your presence goes a long way in a meeting, other times it is just appeasing someone when your time could be put to better use elsewhere. When a request is made ask, “Does she need me? Do I have to be there?”
  11. The meeting before the meeting. I am amazed at how few pastors do this. Whenever I know we are going to be making a big decision or having an important conversation, I always have the meeting before the meeting. This is the time that I share my thoughts and ideas and get honest feedback. Sometimes this meeting is meant to create buy in (this is especially important if you aren’t the final say on something and you need that person’s support). Never, ever have a tough or important meeting without the meeting before the meeting.
  12. If you need a drummer, hire a drummer. Too many churches hire someone with a great resume and is a nice person but can’t do the job. Before we started Revolution, we hired a singer to lead worship. It was a disaster. After getting off the ground, we hired Paul. We needed a worship pastor, so we hired a worship pastor.
  13. And my favorite, Create a not to do list. Everyone has a to do list, but a few (the successful leaders) have a not do list. What things shouldn’t you do? What things can you give away? What things are you not gifted at? For me, learning what I should not do might have been just as important as learning what I should do. When I’m asked to do something, because I have my 2 lists (do and not do), I know what my answer will be.

All in all, a great, short read. Definitely worth picking up if you want some ideas on how to maximize your time and leadership. And who doesn’t want to get better at that?

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  1. Pingback: Saturday Night Mind Dump… « My World

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