You Can Choose to Manage Your Time Better or Not…it’s Up to You

Be Intentional About the Actions You Take to Fight Against the Time Monster

Last week I wrote about how we tend to make time management more complicated than it needs to be. Making things more difficult than needed is just human nature. Those of us that are self-employed seem to take this to a whole different level. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Like everything in life, we have choices. Time management is no different.

The three things that I said need to be used to successfully manage time were…

  • Intentionality
  • Prioritization
  • Spending time wisely

Today’s focus is INTENTIONALITY

Being intentional is a conscious design or purpose about your choices and actions. It is deciding what you’re going to do and doing it.

Why is it that we will be on time to meetings with other people, but not with ourselves?

If I have a day full of meetings and appointments, I will be on time to all of them. But if I fill my day with tasks and projects that don’t involve anyone but me, I’ll be running late shortly after getting started?

Think about it like this…Why is it that we can make it to the airport in plenty of time for our flight or not dare be late to our child’s wedding, but won’t set down and get to work on that project that needs to be worked on?

How we choose to spend our time is going to vary for each of us. What we spend it on is not the issue. Being intentional about it is.

The problem is not a lack of time, it’s a lack of control

This does not mean that it’s easy. There is a time monster that will eat up all your time if you let it. He will gobble it up as soon as it’s available and not leave anything but crumbs.

We have to intentionally confront this monster. Closing your eyes and putting your hands over your ears doesn’t make him any less real. He’s out there and he likes the taste of time.

The intentional, continuous, focus of small actions over time will bring the monster down. The process, known as the “snowball effect”, is the accumulation of small things added to small things until they become a big thing, like a snowball rolling down a hill.

An intentional snowball is the best weapon when dealing with a big hairy time monster.

It feels like there’s not enough time to do everything. I would argue that we’ve been given enough time to do everything we should. The problem is that we’re trying to do too much.

We’ve been given enough time to do everything we are supposed to. God built the world and everything in it in six days. We’ve been given those same six days to build our lives. Granted, building the world is a lot…we just need to remember that we’re not God.

God was intentional about what He was making. We need to treat our mission the same way.

You can do anything you want. You just can’t do everything you want.

Being aware of time and watching the clock also requires intentionality. Time is the most valuable commodity we have. You’ve heard the saying “time is money”. I would argue that time is MORE than money.

Money is a form of exchange for a service or product. We have some control over how fast our money goes…not so with time.

There is a limited amount of time.

Time is continually moving. There is no stopping or slowing it to get more done. If we spend a dollar, we can go make more. Once time is spent…there’s no getting any more.

Managing time requires intentionality. You can’t just wish it to happen. You have to decide to fight the monster and pick up the snowball.

What You Treasure the Most is Where Your Focus Will Be

Lack of Clarity About This Comes with a High Price Tag

Most of us have heard the story about the rich man unwilling to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. Mark 10:17-27 This story often leads people to a misunderstanding of what God is asking of us. It’s not that God is against us being wealthy.

It’s about what’s most important to us.

This man’s focus was on his worldly wealth, not God. He had kept all the rules and regulations. But Jesus knew where his heart was. That’s why He tested him with this.

There are plenty of examples of wealthy people doing God’s work that aren’t asked to give up their worldly possessions.

It’s about where our focus is. Is it on the world or God?

Having spent our lives in the world it only makes sense that the world would be our point of reference.

Being rich is so much more than just monetary. Rich is also having a high value or quality. Being well supplied or endowed. This sounds a lot like something God would want us to have and would give us. He has given each of us a high value and qualities. It’s up to us to be focused and spend them wisely.

Having possessions isn’t limited to worldly possessions. Possessions are things possessed. We have been given so much more than just worldly things. We can possess skills, abilities, talents, insight, understanding, thoughts, ideas, etc. It’s our responsibility to use these possessions in the way the Giver intended.

The cost to being unclear about what we should be focused on first and foremost is expensive…just ask the rich young ruler.

We live in a time where we have more things clamoring for our attention than any other time in history. So many of these noisy things just pull our focus away from what’s matters most.

Like talking pants.

Everybody needs pants that tell them when they aren’t zipped up. Right? How novel. It is easy to be pulled away from the things most important. Don’t get me wrong…there are a lot of really fun and interesting gadgets and gizmos out there, and there’s nothing wrong with gadgets and gizmos. We just need to be clear about what our focus is on.

We can choose where our focus will be.

What will you focus on?

Why Do We Make Managing Time as Complicated as Rocket Science?

When in Reality, It’s as Simple as One, Two, Three

I’ve shared before about some of the great discussions we have in our masterclass. This week’s was no different.

The question that got the gears in my head spinning was this –

When self-employed and working from home, how does one schedule time and determine boundaries?

Now, is this a great question or what. How does one do this?

When working from home it’s easy to be sidetracked by all the things that need done, like – yard work, gardening, vacuuming, washing the dishes, repair projects, laundry, changing the oil in the car, checking out social media, researching new and better computer programs, emailing old friends… You get the point! All the things on this list are worthwhile and important things that need to be done.

There were some great answers from of the group.

  • I work when my wife is gone to work. When she gets home, I stop working and spend time with her.
  • I have an office space that is only accessed by going through the garage, up some stairs and through the attic.
  • I start my day at 8:00 just as if I was going to an office.

The key to managing time is intentionality!

Having been self-employed for most of the past forty years I have a head start on most of the people in this group. But believe me I understand. I’ve struggled with this for years and just began to figure out over the past 8-10 years.

My figuring it out took a big step forward with a wakeup call from God. He got my attention with a board upside the head, literally. This incident persuaded me to step back and look at things differently. I got a more well-rounded, big picture view of life and it helped me to see things differently.

I’m a workaholic and love what I do. Now I look at my whole life, all the different aspects of it, as my employment. This a word that is typically connected to a job, but that’s not completely accurate. Being employed is – the active use of or engagement in services. Being engaged in activity. I see employment as more than just a job.

The freedom perceived as a part of self-employment is the one thing that most often prevents these ventures from succeeding.

One of the biggest issues with self-employment is lack of boundaries. It’s like kids when they first move out of their parent’s home. There’s a newfound freedom. Nobody is looking over their shoulder telling them to get up and go to class or to not stay out late so they can get up and go to work.

Most people have been raised with some kind of structure. Working for someone else is the same thing. When we become self-employed it’s like moving out for the first time. There’s no boss preventing me from washing the dishes or mowing the yard.

This new freedom leads to an uncertain, unclear understanding of what we should do, when we should do it and in what order.

There are three things that need to be present if you are going to be successful in self-employment. –

  • Intentionality – Be intentional about what you spend your time on. Why is it that we won’t be late to a meeting with other people, but will blow off meeting with ourselves? We’ve been given enough time to do everything we should…just not everything we want.
  • Prioritization – This one can be tough. What makes one thing more important than another. This is where being crystal on who you are, who you’re going to help and how you’re going to help them comes in.
  • Spending time wisely – Time is limited. It is the most valuable commodity you have. It’s up to you to decide how much you’re going to spend and what you’re going to spend it on.

The SELF in self-employment means “the buck stops here”. It’s up to me to manage my time…no one else. Our human nature is to make things more complicated than they are or need to be.

Managing time doesn’t have to be rocket science. Intentionally prioritizing how you spend your time is all it takes.

Check back, we will break these down more in the coming weeks.

Open Your Eyes and Ears…You Don’t Want to Miss Out

Use Your Observances and Experiences to Build a Better You

You know how children’s curiosity is on the go nonstop. It’s runs wide open with no parameters. This is why as adults we have to keep them from touching a hot stove or chasing a ball into the street without looking.

On the other side, experience is a great education tool. Once you burn your finger you understand why not to touch that hot stove.

The 15th century proverb, children should be seen and not heard, originated in religious culture and was a part of that learning process. This was an effort to teach children to respect others, especially adults.

In Mark 10:13-15, Jesus tells His followers to not stop the children from coming to Him. This was an uncommon thing. At that time in history children were seen as non-persons until they became adults. They were to not be heard or seen.

Children shouldn’t be ignored or treated as adults…they’re children. They should be encouraged to be children.

As we grow up, we forget to keep this children’s eagerness to learn. We become stuck in the rut of life with our heads down shoveling our way forward.

We never look up to see God’s wonders that are all around us.

I see our relationship with God like a child’s relationship with an adult. He knows a lot more about things than I do. At the same time, He wants me to open my eyes and ears to the world around me. He loves it when I come to Him and ask Him questions.

We need to open our eyes and ears.

I approach my relationship with God as a mentor/advisor. Someone to ask questions of and get advice from, to help me build the best me. Too many people’s relationship with God is like children in biblical times. They try not to be seen or heard. This isn’t what God wants. He wants a relationship with us.

Pastor Lee shared some examples of billboards that show us God’s human side.  Here are a few –

  • “Come over to my house before the game on Sunday” …God
  • “You know that “Love Your Neighbor” thing? I meant that” …God
  • “Loved the wedding. Don’t forget to invite me to the marriage” …God
  • “Keep using my name in vain and I’ll make rush hour longer” …God

Recently my niece Hannah was having a chat with God while on her way to work. As she was asking if He was hearing her, she saw the small end of a rainbow. Okay she thought…is He hearing me or is this my imagination? Then the rainbow got longer. As she continued the conversation, it continued to get longer until it became a full rainbow.

Oh, but God didn’t stop there. Before He was finished there were two complete rainbows, one above the other so bright that she said they were the most brilliant and bight rainbows she had ever seen.

But this story doesn’t end there…

Hannah shared this with Pastor Lee and what do you know. He was looking at the same rain bow at the same time.

Open your eyes and ears…you don’t want to miss out.

The Most Important Question Always Seems to be the Last One Asked

That’s Because the Answer to the “How Question” is Going to Require Work

Last week I listened to a Belay, One Next Step podcast interview with David Horsager. David is the CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute and best-selling author of The Trusted Leader, The 8 Pillars of Trust. In this interview they discussed these 8 pillars and how to become a more trustworthy leader.

Everything of value is built on trust. You’ll pay more for a trusted brand, to follow a trusted leader or buy from a trusted salesperson.

Trust is the single most important trait of great leaders, organizations and brands.

These 8 foundational pillars of genuine success are:

1. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous.

2. Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.

3. Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy.

4. Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable.

5. Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.

6. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends.

7. Contribution: People immediately respond to results.

8. Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently.

As they went through these pillars David pointed out a simple three question process for putting these pillars into action. These questions are what helped David to lose 52 lbs. in five months and keep it off.

Here are the three most important questions to ask:

“Number one. “Okay. We want that thing.” How, how? Okay. Second question, way more important. It is, how? The third is the most important of all. It is, how?”

I’ve written several times about the importance of asking questions and the lack them being asked. I believe all questions are important and that they all work together to point to the desired results.

  • Who is that thing going to be done for?
  • What is that thing that I want or need to do?
  • When does that thing need to be done?
  • Where is that thing going to be done?
  • Why should that thing be done?
  • How am I going to do that thing?

Without answering the how question it won’t get done.

The how question needs to be actionable and one that we can be held accountable to.

Here is what David said about it,

My weight, everybody told me, “All you got to do is eat less, exercise more.” That was not clear enough. Okay. So I said, “Okay, how am I going to take in less calories?” Okay. Boom, boom, boom, boom. How, how, how, how. Until one of them was, “I’m not going to drink a calorie on a plane.” I can look at it. “Okay. Fresca instead of Coke.” I was drinking Cokes, bad. So now you sit next to me. I never, almost never have a calorie on a plane, unless I put a little cream in my coffee. So the how is something you can act on today or tomorrow. “I want to sell more.” “Okay. How are you going to do that?” “I’m going to call more people.” “Okay, great. How are you going to do that?” Basically, I’m just going to call more people.” “No, you’re not. You had that opportunity yesterday. How are you going to call more people?” “Well, I got to get a list.” “Okay. Now, how are you going to get a list?” “Okay. I’m going to do this.” Okay. “By tomorrow at 10:00 AM.”

It’s time from me to answer my how questions.

How will you answer yours?

Salt is a Preservative That Makes Things Taste Better

It’s Amazing…Kind of Like a Multipurpose Tool

Most of us are familiar with multipurpose tools. A multi-tool is a hand tool that combines several individual functions in a single unit. There are a variety of different kinds, but all have one thing in common…this one tool can perform multiple tasks.

Basic Multi-Tool – usually includes a blade, a can opener, a bottle opener, screwdrivers, scissors, wire cutters, and pliers. With these, you can cut your food, gut a fish, slice or cut almost anything, open bottles, etc. 

Oscillating multi-tool – is a diverse tool with a variety of different attachments. The head of the oscillating power tool moves side to side up to 20,000 times per minute.

Rotary multi-tool – is similar to an oscillating multi-tool. It is a small handheld tool that features a rotary tip that spins in a circular motion at very high speeds and can accept a wide variety of accessories and attachments.

Similar to these tools, salt can serve multiple functions.

Salt enhances the taste of food and also serves as a preservative. Both of these things make life better, but only if used.

In Matthew 5:13, we are called to be “the salt of the earth”. We’re told that if “we lose our saltiness we will be thrown out”. Like the multi-tool we each have different tools we can use to make the world better. Like salt, if we don’t do our part to make the world better, we’ll be thrown out.

Salt has been used as a preservative for ages.

Salt draws water out of food and dehydrates it. All living things require water and cannot grow in the absence of it, including bacteria. Salt is used to preserve beef jerky by keeping it dry.

In Mark 9:38-50, once again we are compared to salt. We can preserve others from hell by sharing Jesus. Hell is a place where “the fire will never stop”.

Jerky is meat that is prepared and preserved without cooking or refrigeration. Think about this…

Being salt to the world is helping others be preserved without having to experience the fire of hell.

There were a group of Mensa International members having lunch when they noticed that the salt and pepper were in the wrong shakers. Mensa is a non-profit organization of people who score in the 98th percentile of IQ.

As they studied the situation with the salt and pepper, they began trying to figure out ways of getting them switched from one shaker to the other, using only the things on the table, without wasting or spilling any. As they were contemplating this, the waitress came to the table. The group being proud of their intellectual ideas, they shared the dilemma with the waitress. She listened to their ideas and then…she switched the shaker caps.

Don’t make being salt of the earth more complicated than it needs to be. Determine who God has called you to be and live that out in the world every day.

Salt does no good if it’s left in the shaker.

What is Your Motivation for Being in the Construction Business?

Having the Wrong Motivations Gives the Rest of Us a Bad Name

I’ve written before about situations where I’ve been involved in resolving issues between contractors and customers where they’ve gotten crossways with each other.

How poor communication leaves both sides with unrealistic expectations and sometimes ends in legal battles.

Once again, I’ve been asked by a construction customer to help them with a construction disagreement. They just want to get their home and their life back.

They’re in the middle of a dispute with a construction company that has been dragging on for more than a year. Their home has been left unfinished, damaged from rain leaking in, poor quality work, etc.

Why is it that they find themselves on opposite sides of this battle?

I’ve always advocated that poor communication between contractor and customer is the biggest problem. However, as I’ve been working on the current situation, I think there might be another deeper level to this issue.

Communication is certainly a part of it, but maybe communication would be better if the underlying motivations of both parties were considered. A skilled communicator can convince you that what their saying is true, even if it isn’t.

I think this is the underlying problem. It’s a lack of trust. None of us want to be lied to. Last week I wrote about competition vs. cooperation and how we can have both and everybody wins. It comes down to who we are competing against and who we are cooperating with.

Our motivation is directly connected to our why.

Contractor – Why am I in the construction business? Is it to help the customer achieve their dream construction project or to just make a lot of money? Don’t get me wrong. To stay in business, you have to make a profit, but if that is more important to you than serving your customer, it leads to situations like the one I’m currently working on.

Customer – Why do I want to do this project? Is it to improve the value, make it more functional, reduce maintenance, or to impress the neighbors? It’s your project and any of these motivations is fine.

The important thing is that both parties involved know the motivations.

Sometimes the motivations are hidden and not discovered until problems begin. Sometimes motivations aren’t clear, even to oneself. Knowing what the motivations are and being true to those motivations is critical to minimizing these kinds of problems.

Discovering motivations requires asking questions.

It frustrates he heck out of me that these kinds of situations happen…and they don’t have to.

We need to raise the bar of construction industry standards.

It’s Jesus Inside of Me That Makes Me Want to Do This

What Does Jesus Working in You, Make You Want to Do?

Now there’s a question for you to think about.

Pastor Lee shared a story about Trevor Ferrell, who at 11 years old was moved to help homeless people in Philadelphia in the 1980s. His story garnered a large public support and Presidential recognition. In an interview he was asked what made him do this work, he responded…

“It’s Jesus inside of me that makes me want to do this.”

Jesus wants to work in and through all of us…if we will just let Him. The problem is, most of us think we’ve got this. We don’t need any help.

In Mark 9:30-37 Jesus and His followers are on their way to Capernaum. Along the way some of the followers were arguing about who was the greatest. They were looking at it from a selfish worldly perspective. They weren’t thinking about what they could do as a team, with Jesus and each other.

Jesus told them that to be truly great they needed to be focused on helping others, not what was in it for them. It’s so simple kids can do it (Mark 9:36-37).

We need to be focused on what we can do for others…not what’s in it for me.

Putting other’s first doesn’t mean that they are more important than we are. It means that we have been given certain skills, abilities and insights that will make the world better if we share them with the people who need them.

The Disciples were competing amongst themselves, each wanting to be the greatest. We are competitive by nature. This can be a good thing if we are clear on what we are competing for.

Pastor Lee told another story about a medical student who was extremely competitive. He consistently scored at the top of his class, but it was beginning to take a toll. He was feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

During a school break he went on a mission through his church. While on the mission he found a new and refreshed since of purpose and decided to take a semester off and continue working in the mission.

In a letter home to his parents, he wrote about how nice it was to not feel the pressure to be the best. He went on to tell how great things were. He said, currently he was ranked second and if things continued the way they were, he thought he would be first in a couple of months.

He was seeking greatness. I’m not sure that he was clear on what that was. We’re all seeking it and many of us aren’t clear on it either.

Greatness isn’t about me, it’s about God working through me.

Throughout history God has used normal people to do great things. He has given each of us something that is special to us. It’s up to us to find that thing and use it to make the world better.

It’s Jesus working inside of me that makes me want to do this.

Competition vs. Cooperation, does it Have to be One or the Other?

Finding the Balance of These Two Things is Like Walking a Tightrope

On the surface, competition and cooperation seem to be opposites.  I think they are two different things pulling in opposite directions providing the tension needed to keep the bridge of negotiation held up and safe to cross.

Most people see negotiation as a conflict.  As either a win or lose proposition.  This is a competitive perspective.  Depending on the people involved and the circumstances…it can be a pretty intense battle.

Some people love the battle.

Other people want to avoid conflict at all costs.  They are willing to be used as a doormat, rather than to stand up and fight for what they believe.  These people will compromise and avoid uncomfortable situations.  It’s just easier.

Some people will avoid the battle any way they can.

The reality is that negotiation is a part of your everyday life…whether you like it or not.  I’m currently going through another Business Made Simple University course, Negotiation Made Simple. This course teaches that negotiation doesn’t have to be like haggling with a used car salesman. It can actually be a win/win when done right.

By nature, I’m not competitive.  This lends itself to my being a doormat.  As I have matured and through my wife’s encouragement (by nature she’s very competitive), I’m more willing to stand up for what I believe in.

The whole competition/cooperation thing was made abundantly clear to me a few days ago while watching a NASCAR race.

NASCAR is different than other sports. In other sports competition is one on one or two teams competing against each other.

In NASCAR there is a combination of these two.  While there are thirty or forty individual cars on the track racing for the win, there are also multi-car teams.  This makes for an interesting dynamic when two drivers on a multi-car team are battling for the win.

In the race I referred to earlier this was the situation.  In this scenario on a late race restart there was an opportunity for one driver to let another driver win which allowed the winning driver to make it into the championship playoffs.

These types of decisions can come from a variety of places.  Maybe this is what the team owner had mandated.  Maybe it was the driver’s personality.  Ultimately, in NASCAR these types of decisions are made in a split second.

This is why it’s critical to know ourselves and our priorities before we enter into the negotiation.

The competition/cooperation of construction projects is like racing.  On one hand there is a construction company trying to make a profit.  On the other, the customer trying to get a project done as inexpensively as possible.  You throw into the mix subcontractors and suppliers.  They are trying to balance multiple projects and also trying to be profitable.

These construction negotiations can be wins for everybody if handled properly.

Thankfully we don’t normally have to make the decisions in a split second like racecar drivers.

Ultimately, once we understand that competition and cooperation work together to provide the best bridge between contractor and customer…everybody wins.

Questions Lead to Thinking and We Could Sure Use More of That

Never Stop Asking Questions

You know how kids go through that stage in life where they ask why…why…why…why…

Parents get so tired of this non-stop asking they find ways to subdue these questions. Ultimately this squelches the appetite for learning. Then at some point we just quit asking.

This suppression of questions has led to a society of yes people. Too often things are just taken as face value and left at that.

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” Confucius

In Mark 8:27-38, Jesus asks His followers, “Who do People say I am?” This is just one of hundreds of questions that Jesus asked. There were several different answers. Some said John the Baptist, others said Elijah, some said one of the prophets.

The people had preconceived answers based on what they were told rather than reality. These conclusions without questions led many people to miss the answer to eternal life. A lack of questions left them lost. It does the same thing to us. 

Peter answered Jesus, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus goes on to tell them of the suffering that He would go through. The fact that the Jewish leaders would not accept Him and ultimately put Him to death and come back after three days.

This didn’t match Peter’s preconceived answer that Jesus was going to rule like a king, and he called Jesus out. In turn Jesus tells Peter, “Get away from me Satan.”

How often do we answer questions right, but come to the wrong conclusion?

We want “easy” and asking questions isn’t easy. It can lead to answers that are difficult. There is “true” and then there is the “truth”. These aren’t always the same.

Like a kid, at some point it seems easier to just stop asking questions and go along with what you’re told. This isn’t how we were made. This is why as kids we ask why…why…why…why… As adults we need to be asking more questions.

Never stop asking questions.