Time Management Series“Having the Time of Your Life: An Overview”

by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 12.1
Time Management

1. Purpose of this Series

Time Management: Having the Time of Your Life explores the principles, practices, and benefits of time management in life and leadership. You may undertake
valuable self-assessment of your priorities and activities, and develop strategies toward truly “having the time of your life!” As related to servant leadership, it is not too much to claim that time management is self-leadership.

Time management is really a misnomer, because we all have exactly the same amount of time . . . Self-management is a better term . . . Most people manage their lives by crises. . . . Effective time managers are opportunity-minded. The essence of time management is to set priorities and then to organize and execute around them. (from Stephen R. Covey, Principle-Centered Leadership)

Key Text–Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live [walk]–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity [time], because the days are evil. (NIV)

2. What This Overview Article Provides

  • Understanding: To add to your understanding of time management as a critical component of practicing servant leadership in your life and ministry.
  • Diagnosis: To make an assessment of your present time management skills and to identify areas where you have room to improve.
  • Action Planning: To broaden your choice of strategies to take control of your schedule, your priorities, and your leadership. These articles should help you develop at least specific actions that will make a difference in your life and your leadership. What if you could “rescue from drowning” only five hours each week? That could add 15 days for reallocation toward your quality of life.
  • Resources: To serve as a “toolbox” of reference materials, including planning worksheets, and other helpful “timely” resources you can use again and again in developing your own time management effectiveness strategies. Hopefully, there will be something here for you!

3. What Is “Time Management”?

  • More than scheduling, time management is living with a purpose. It is life management!
  • It is living in trust. You are not required to do it all yourself. Your confidence in those around you will help you, and empower them.
  • It is living with self-understanding. Know how you spend your time as you continually reevaluate; be aware of your own needs for balance in life.
  • It is about doing the right things, not doing the most things.
  • It is planning: both long-term and short-time.
  • It requires action; your plan must be followed.
  • It is placing your time, your life, in the hands of God.Psalm 31:14-15But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.
  • Add from your own understanding and practices.

4. Approaches to Time Management Stephen R. Covey in Principle-Centered Leadership, p. 47, underscores the need for improvement: “Associated with Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw is the unique endowment of continuous improvement or self-renewal to overcome entropy.” The theme of this article, “having the time of your life,” provides for time improvement through several approaches, each approach intersecting with the others. Learn from one of the following topics, or each one of them as needed:

Biblical concepts of time

Taking a time inventory
Developing a time-use plan: the ground floor
Developing a time-use plan: getting specific
Scheduling your time
Overcoming time-wasters

Making time for your ministry

5. Warm-Up Questions Leo Tolstoi, famed Russian novelist, is quoted as saying, “There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” What we do with the time we have is the agenda of time management. In a conference together, we might begin by asking a few “warm-up” questions–for getting acquainted and identifying specific applications. Let’s try it here, ok? Respond to the questions that apply to you:

  • What is your most immediate interest or need for time management? Is there a particular weak point in your leadership strategy? A particular circumstance that needs a remedy? A general feeling about your time use? Or maybe it’s yet-to-be determined?
  • When you think about “time management,” what comes to mind? Two or three key ideas that might guide your quest.
  • Who do you know that seems to be a good example of effective time management? What characteristics lead you to that conclusion?
  • What questions do you have about your own leadership practices? Do you already have a sense of how managing your time differently could answer those questions?
  • Time-bind list: What are your 3 to 5 most pressing, challenging time management needs? Keep these in mind; talk them over with others. Notes: Keep these warm-up thoughts in mind as you work through these articles, but maintain an openness for incorporating new concerns, new opportunities for improvement, and a fresh perspective on your life and leadership. Leadership
    training isn’t just about considering new answers to the difficult questions you have been facing in your ministry; it’s also the process of learning new questions!

6. Servant Leadership and Time Management

Time management contributes to all five practices of servant leadership: empowered,
ethical, enabling (or, equipping), effective leadership, and efficient leadership. By contributing to “efficient leadership,” your use of time, in reality,
enriches all five components of servant leadership. Living your life on purpose is essential to daily performance. Since time management is a leadership skill having to do with “life management,” it is worthy of focused attention and investment. The graphic below provides a viewpoint important for every part of time management.


Time Management Survey – from “Leadership Magazine”


Are your management traits and needs similar to the 600 pastors responding to a recent national survey?

  • Most pastors have little or no training in time management and are having to learn to “work smarter” by trial and error.
  • More than one-third do not use any time-management tool.
  • Despite perceptions to the contrary, there’s not much difference in the way large-church pastors spend their time, compared to pastors who have no staff support.
  • Regardless of the church or staff size, pastors reported spending about 11 hours each week in sermon preparation.
  • Most satisfied pastors share common traits: limit their work to 45 to 50 weekly hours; have learned to live with unfinished business; use all their annual vacation; consistently take one full day off each week.
  • Many pastors desire to learn more about managing time.

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© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.

For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com

Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership