TIME MANAGEMENT & Nehemiah’s reply to needless meetings & heedless critics.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In 30+ years of church consulting excessive meetings and insufficient action is a major misstep that stops churches from moving forward and growing. Too many meetings often drain volunteers and leaders of their enthusiasm, energy and progress.

The Old Testament business leader Nehemiah provides a helpful example of what to do when you are badgered by people who want to slow you down with endless meetings … when action and effort is required. Take this take a look at the way Rick Warren explains this in the following article.

You Don’t Need to Fight Critics by Rick Warren — 04/07/2021

God uniquely created you for an important assignment on Earth that only you can accomplish.

But you will face naysayers along the way. They’ll tell you: “You’re the wrong person. You’ve got the wrong idea. You’re doing it the wrong way.”

Take the Old Testament story of Nehemiah, for example. Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a priest. He was a businessman. Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The Israelites had been in exile for 70 years—and then the Babylonians let them go home.

Jerusalem had been destroyed and was defenseless. But Nehemiah got a big idea to change that. “I’ll rebuild my city,” he thought. “And I’ll start by rebuilding the wall to protect it.”

Nehemiah’s story teaches that every opportunity comes with opposition.

For Nehemiah, the opposition was instant. Israel’s enemies didn’t want to see Jerusalem defended. They tried all sorts of things to stop him from rebuilding the wall. They tried ridicule, rumors, and threats. When none of that worked, they tried to slow him down by involving him in bunch of meetings.

Your critics—the naysayers who want to prevent you from doing what the Lord has called you to do—will use the same bag of tricks. They’ll ridicule you, spread rumors about you, and even threaten you to get you to stop doing what God wants you to do.

But instead of listening to them, respond the way that Nehemiah did: “So I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply”(Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT).

You don’t need to fight with naysayers. It’s not worth it. If you try to take on people who have a negative opinion about God’s plans for you, you’ll just waste your time.

Nehemiah didn’t defend his work. You don’t need to defend yourself either. Just let the naysayers’ criticisms go.

One day God’s work through your life will be proven correct. Have enough faith to wait for that day to come.PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

PRODUCTIVITY & How to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just What’s Urgent.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: When coaching churches, I am often asked by the lead pastor to help staff members become more productive. Here are some practical insights to accomplish this.

by Alice Boyes, Harvard Business Review, 7/3/18.

In a series of studies recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, people typically chose to complete tasks that had very short deadlines attached to them, even in situations in which tasks with less pressing deadlines were just as easy and promised a bigger reward.

… implement strategies that will incrementally move you in the right direction but don’t require much effort.

Schedule Important Tasks, and Give Yourself Way More Time Than You’ll Need

Research shows that scheduling when and where you’ll do something makes it dramatically more likely that the task will get done.

For very important and long-avoided tasks, I like a strategy that I call “clearing the decks,” which means assigning a particular task to be the only one I work on for an entire day.

Isolate the Most Impactful Elements of Important Tasks

…If you habitually set goals so lofty you end up putting them off, try this: When you consider a goal, also consider a half-size version. Mentally put your original version and the half-size version side by side, and ask yourself which is the better (more realistic) goal. If your task still feels intimidating, shrink it further until it feels doable. You might end up with a goal that’s one-fourth or one-tenth the size of what you initially considered but that’s more achievable — and once you start, you can always keep going.

Anticipate and Manage Feelings of Anxiety

…Broadly speaking, working on important things typically requires having good skills for tolerating uncomfortable emotions. Here’s a personal example: Reading the work of writers who are better than I am is useful for improving my skills, but it triggers envy and social comparison. Acknowledging and labeling the specific emotions that make an experience emotionally challenging is a basic but effective step for reducing those emotions.

Spend Less Time on Unimportant Tasks

Unimportant tasks have a nasty tendency of taking up more time than they should. For example, you might sit down to proofread an employee’s report — but before you know it, you’ve spent an hour rewriting the whole thing. In the future, you might decide to limit yourself to making your three most important comments on any piece of work that’s fundamentally acceptable, or give yourself a time limit for how long you’ll spend providing notes.

Prioritize Tasks That Will Reduce Your Number of Urgent but Unimportant Tasks

In modern life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being “too busy chasing cows to build a fence.” The sorts of scenarios you most want to avoid are fixing the same problems over and over or giving the same instructions repeatedly. To overcome a pattern of spending all day “chasing cows,” you can outsource, automate, batch small tasks, eliminate tasks, streamline your workflow, or create templates for recurring tasks. Look for situations in which you can make an investment of time once to set up a system that will save you time in the future, such as setting up a recurring order for office supplies rather than ordering items one at a time as you run out.

One specific strategy I cover in The Healthy Mind Toolkit is retraining the “decision leeches” in your life. Decision leeches are people who defer decisions to you. For example, you might ask someone else to make a decision, but instead of doing it, they email you a list of options for you to look at, putting the responsibility back on you. Instead of automatically answering the person, ask them to make a clear recommendation.

Pay Attention to What Helps You See (and Track) the Big Picture

When we’re head-down in the grind, it’s hard to have enough mental space to see the big picture. Pay attention to what naturally helps you do this. Something that helps me is travel, especially taking flights alone. There’s nothing like a literal 10,000-foot view to give me a clearer perspective on my path. Spreadsheets help me see the big picture too. As much as I hate bookkeeping and taxes, doing them helps me pay attention …

Another thing that helps keep me focused on my important goals is catching up with colleagues I see every six months or so. Invariably this involves giving each other an update on what we’ve been doing and what we’re trying to get done. Likewise, when it comes to money, there are certain personal finance bloggers I like to read from time to time to help me stay on track.

If you’re struggling with prioritizing the important over the urgent, don’t be too hard on yourself. The number of deadlines and decisions we face in modern life, juxtaposed with the emotionally (and cognitively) challenging nature of many important tasks, makes this struggle an almost universal one. I’ve written entire books on how to focus on the big picture and stop self-sabotaging, and I still find it difficult. I consider success as taking my own advice at least 50% of the time! This is a reasonable rule of thumb that you might adopt, too.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/07/how-to-focus-on-whats-important-not-just-whats-urgent?

STAFF & How Respecting Others’ Time Results In Better Performance For Everyone #ForbesMagazine

by John Hall, Forbes Magazine, 3/8/20.

Entrepreneurs are said to have egos. That’s a fair assessment — I don’t know a single founder who doesn’t have a need to be seen, to leave a mark on the world. But the entrepreneurs I know need something far more important than that: respect. They want people to understand how valuable their time is. The problem is that many of them fail to extend that same respect when it comes to their team members’ time.

As noted in a previous Forbes article, respect is the third most important thing employees look for when seeking a new job. While that may not be top of mind for you, it certainly is for others. Eighty percent of employees surveyed in a study cited in the Memphis Business Journal said that “lack of respect is a serious problem in the workplace” — and that it was getting worse. Another study found that 63% of those who don’t feel respected intend to leave their present job within two years.

You may think you don’t “waste” anyone’s time. Intentional or not, here are some common ways we’ve all done it:

  • Scheduling unnecessary or last-minute meetings
  • Going over the allotted time for a meeting 
  • Tardiness, such as arriving late or missing deadlines
  • Not respecting boundaries, such as calling a colleague at 11 p.m. or emailing at 6 a.m. on a Saturday 
  • Interrupting people when they’re speaking or clearly focused on their work — cues like wearing headphones or closing their office door signify interruptions aren’t welcome
  • Assigning or delegating a task to someone at the last second or when he’s already working at full capacity
  • Filling a person’s inbox with messages that have no real value
  • Not responding to important messages or keeping people updated on your progress
  • Breaking promises, such as having a reputation for canceling meetings at the last minute
  • Being unprepared, like arriving at a meeting without having reviewed the agenda

Not only are these actions disrespectful, but they’re also impacting others’ performance. 

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2020/03/08/how-respecting-others-time-results-in-better-performance-for-everyone/#b94d40e252f6

TIME MAMAGEMENT & Forget the 80-20 Rule. Follow the 1-50 Rule Instead.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. A good friend of mine and former president of our seminary Dr. Wayne Schmidt (and now the superintendent of our denomination) told me that another megachurch pastor gave him this advice: “Do your most important work when you have the most energy.”

This article points out a corollary principle, and that is that some things have some of the greatest impact on your overall success. The author does so by a unique and interesting thesis. Take a look.

Forget the 80-20 Rule. Follow the 1-50 Rule Instead: A tiny fraction of your highest-value work produces half of all your results by David Finke, Inc. Magazine, 9/17/19.

…If you’ve read anything on time management, you’ve come across Pareto’s Principle, inspired by the work of 19th-century economist Vilfredo Pareto. Commonly called the “80-20 Rule,” Pareto’s Principle states that 20 percent of your actions generate 80 percent of your results (high value) and 80 percent of your actions generate the other 20 percent of your results (low value). We have all been taught to focus on the 20 percent that generates the high-value work…but there is more that we can do.

With my coaching clients I have taken this idea and further refined it to create something that I share in detail in my latest book, The Freedom Formula.

The Math (Stick with Me)

If you take the 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply the 80-20 rule to it a second time, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means 4 percent of your effort (the 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 64 percent of your results (80 percent of 80 percent).

…Hang in here with me for one more math moment and apply the 80-20 rule one final time. That means that just 1 percent of your effort (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 50 percent of your results!

That’s right–a tiny fraction of your highest-value work produces half of all your results.

No, this is not an exact science. Nor does this just work automatically. But Pareto’s Principle illustrates a valuable point: All time is not valued equally. An hour or two of your best time on Tuesday may have produced a far greater return than 30 to 40 hours of the low-value tasks you “checked off” on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The 1 Percent that Matters

I encourage all business owners to choose one day a week where they block three to four hours out of their day to focus on the 1 percent that produces 50 percent of their results. Turn your cell phone off, shut down your email client, and work on the A-level tasks and projects that really matter. Avoid distractions and other people’s “fires,” and you will soon begin to see the power that comes with upgrading your time.

And once you have a handle on the top 1 percent of your task list, teach your key team members to do the same with their time, and watch your business grow exponentially.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/david-finkel/forget-80/20-rule-follow-1/50-rule-insteaddraft-1568660931.html

TIME MANAGEMENT & “Timeboxing” is the reason I could write 13 books in 17 years.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: People often ask how I could at write so many books while completing a second doctorate, coaching churches and teaching full-time. The key is that I’ve always used and continue to use something called “timeboxing.” Here is an excellent yet concise introductory article.

Timeboxing is the new #1 productivity hackby Shelia McClear, Ladders, 2/6/19.

… It’s a simple concept: for every task you have, pick out a date and time on your calendar and box off an amount of time for that task. For that time period, you will be working on – and hopefully completing – only that task.

Timeboxing often fits right into your workflow. As Sanders puts it, “If you know that a promotional video has to go live on a Tuesday and that the production team needs 72 hours to work on your copy edits, then you know where to place the timebox.”

Timeboxing is visual.  Not only can you see it right in front of you, but so can your colleagues, if you use a shared calendar.

You can play with time. Use the scheduled periods to cut a larger problem into chunks. Spread a project over a long period of time – or compress it into a short one. Recapture periods of goof-off time that would normally be lost by scheduling a timebox where you’d normally be scrolling mindlessly. Schedule super-short timeboxes for increased focus. Timebox your email.

Read more at … https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/timeboxing-named-the-1-proven-productivity-hack

TIME MANAGEMENT & You have to say no to a lot of “good” things to have a “great” life. #How2DoIt

by Joshua Spodek, Inc  Magazine, 2/1/18

… We all have said “yes” to too many things sometime, not realizing that time doing one thing meant time not doing another. I still do, but less than before.

What does “too many things” mean? It means saying yes to mediocre or good things that crowd out great things. We all do it. Something seems great in the moment. We want it.

We don’t think about the resources it will take. Then when we do it we realize we can’t do something else we wanted to.

We make ourselves mediocre, ironically by chasing what we imagine is greatness.

When I can magically create more time and other resources, I’ll say yes to more things. Until then, I’ve learned to decline good things to have a great life.

Values and emotions

It’s a matter of values. Your values determine “good” and “great” for you.

The less you know your values–your emotional responses to things–the less you know how to decide where to allocate your resources, especially time, but also money, connections, relationships, energy, and so on.

The more you know your values, the more you can choose to improve your life–that is, to have more things in your life you like and less that you don’t.

Having limited time and finite resources means saying “no” isn’t declining one thing, but saying “yes” to something better, or at least enabling it.

It takes discipline, but also builds it.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/joshua-spodek/you-have-to-say-no-to-a-lot-of-good-things-to-have-a-great-life.html

CREATIVITY & Why Creative People Say No: Because Saying “No” Has More Creative Power

“Creative People Say No” is an extract from Kevin Ashton’s book, “How to Fly a Horse  —  The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” available here.

A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing.

One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said “no.”

Management writer Peter Drucker: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours — productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well…”

The professor contacted 275 creative people. A third of them said “no.” Their reason was lack of time. A third said nothing. We can assume their reason for not even saying “no” was also lack of time and possibly lack of a secretary.

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.

Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time.

No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?”

Read more at … http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-creative-people-say-no-2015-1

WEEKLY SABBATICAL & Productivity Increases When Time Off is Made Predictable—and Required

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: You think we would understand the importance of a regular sabbatical, when even God who would seem to never need it took a day off after creation. Yet in our ministry worlds we sometimes don’t get a reprieve from emails and work related duties. Yet research shows that having “required” and “regular” time off makes a team more productive. Read the research here.

Making Time Off Predictable, And Required

by Leslie A. Perlow and Jessica L. Porter, Harvard Business Review, 10/9/09 (view here: 8.95.)

People in professional services (consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT, and the like) simply expect to make work their top priority. They believe an “always on” ethic is essential if they and their firms are to succeed in the global marketplace. Just look at the numbers: According to a survey we conducted last year, 94% of 1,000 such professionals said they put in 50 or more hours a week, with nearly half that group turning in more than 65 hours a week. That doesn’t include the 20 to 25 hours a week most of them spend monitoring their BlackBerrys while outside the office. These individuals further say they almost always respond within an hour of receiving a message from a colleague or a client.

Yet our research over the past four years in several North American offices of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests that it is perfectly possible for consultants and other professionals to meet the highest standards of service and still have planned, uninterrupted time off. Indeed, we found that when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited. Our experiments with time off resulted in more open dialogue among team members, which is valuable in itself. But the improved communication also sparked new processes that enhanced the teams’ ability to work most efficiently and effectively.

Predictable time off is the name we gave to the designated periods of time that consultants were required to take off…

(Lessons learned, included the following:)

Lesson 1: Impose a strict time-off mechanism

To get hard-driving consultants to agree to take time off during an assignment—not just when there happened to be a break in the work but at predictable times—we had to establish a mechanism that made it clear to everyone how time off must be taken: either a full day or a full night each week for everyone on the team, which was scheduled at the start of each project…

Lesson 2: Build dialogue into the process

In each of our experiments, we used explicit tactics to generate conversation around the time-off goals in particular, and around work processes more generally…

Lesson 3: Encourage experimentation

Beyond creating a safe space for open dialogue, we found it imperative to encourage people to experiment with new work processes. Ways of working that would have previously gone unquestioned were suddenly fair game for reconsideration…

Lesson 4: Insist on leadership support

Individuals won’t willingly engage in these experiments unless they are able to suspend their disbelief. For that to happen, people need to know that there is value in trying; that they will be respected for participating; and that they will bear some responsibility for the success or failure of the experiment…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictable-and-required

TIME MANAGEMENT & The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Having coached hundreds of churches for 25+ years, I’ve observed a general expectation that everyone works extra hours for the mission. But research consistently shows that overwork undermines the mission! It actually makes you less effective. Read this good article summarizing the research.

Read more at … http://s.hbr.org/1UT7cJR

TIME MANAGEMENT & How to Overcome the Midday Slump

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/07/how-to-overcome-the-midday-slump

TIME MANAGEMENT & Use ‘The 10-Minute Rule’ to Revolutionize Your Productivity

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “The 10-minute rule involves setting a 10 minute timer (typically on a smart phone) for any ‘to do’ task you undertake. If you can’t get it done in 10 minutes: it should: 1) either be delegated or 2) be broken down into smaller tasks. Learn how to focus your energy and productivity with his helpful Inc. article on the 10 minute rule.”

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/the-muse/the-10-minute-rule-to-revolutionize-your-productivity.html

TIME MANAGEMENT & Always late (or annoyed by someone who is)? Research shows what’s to blame

by Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal, 2/2/15.

Read more at … http://online.wsj.com/articles/we-know-why-youre-always-late-1422900180

TIME MANAGEMENT & How to Spend the Last 10 Minutes of Your Day #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Good time management also means good sleep management, for as this article points out there are manifold negatives to not getting enough sleep. It also points out that almost half of the people you meet tomorrow will be sleep deprived. Learn seven tips to keep sleep deprivation from wrecking everything else you’re trying to accomplish in an eye-opening article based upon solid research.”

by Ron Friedman, Harvard Business Review, 11/10/14

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-spend-the-last-10-minutes-of-your-day

DELEGATION & How to Work Less and Get More Done

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Read an overview of Jeff Sutherland’s book The art of doing twice the work, In half the time (2014). And, you’ll discover lessons such as:

1) Keep meetings short, only 15 minutes and stop the two hour meetings searching for blame.

2) Keep teams small, five people or less. Then let them report to the bigger team their work. They will work faster and more efficiently.

More great insights by the author of a new, seminal book.”

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/jeff-sutherland/how-to-work-less-and-get-more-done.html

TIME MANAGEMENT & 4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Time management is a misnomer. It is really about productivity. Learn more about recent studies on time management (sic) in this HBR overview of fallacies about managing your time (rather than managing your productivity).”

By Amy Gallo, 7/22/14, Harvard Business Review

Read more at … http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/07/4-things-you-thought-were-true-about-time-management/

TIME MANAGEMENT & When to Schedule Your Most Important Work #HarvardBusinessReview

by Ron Friedman, Harvard Business Review, 6/27/14

“By now, you’ve probably noticed that the person you are midway through the afternoon is not the same person who arrived first thing in the morning. Research shows our cognitive functioning fluctuates throughout the day. If you’re like most people, you’ll find that you can get a lot done between 9:00am and 11:00am. Not so at 2:30pm. Later in the day, it often feels like we’re moving at a fraction of our morning pace.

That’s not an illusion. Recent studies have found that on average, people are considerably worse at absorbing new information, planning ahead and resisting distractions as the day progresses.”

Read more at … http://t.co/b0Qfe5C88U