A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
“He who believes in Me [Jesus], the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12
5 Helps to Keep Essentials in Focus
1) Pray – do business with God on the issue of stewardship of work.
2) Re-visit your job description/annual goals. Do they match up?
3) Determine when you’re sharpest or freshest & guard that time.
4) Practice intentionality with meeting invites & other distractions.
5) Do what only you can do whenever possible.
Books, blogs, and experts abound in the field of leadership and workplace productivity. A challenge for me at work is the constant press of the urgent, and the seeming necessity of meetings upon meetings. I actually don’t really mind meetings; processing in group is my method of choice for information-sharing and developing strategies. Yet, there are those colleagues of ours whom we depend on for deep thinking and creative planning and who need time in quiet to accomplish that. Too often their work-day is packed with people (either across a meeting table or through electronic communications). They’re then less able to be proactive in their thinking and more prone to reactive decision-making.
Shane Parrish (@farnamstreet) wrote about this phenomenon several months ago. The title of his article was intriguing: “Most of what you are going to do or say today is not essential”.
I don’t want to spend my life doing things that don’t matter, especially in the huge investment of life at work.
In the above article, Parrish continued: “If you’re a modern knowledge worker, odds are you’re going to go to work, read some emails, reply to some emails, attend some meetings, grab a coffee, have lunch, attend another meeting or two, catch up on emails, and finally head home. You’ll be busy from the moment you get to work until the moment you go home. When you do find a nook of time, you’ll likely be bombarded with beeping, dings, calls, and other people who only need a sliver of our time. After all, they too have something urgent to do. They too have a deadline.
After a long day, you’ll come home mentally and physically drained. Eventually you’ll reach a tipping point and say enough is enough. The very next day you’ll head into the office vowing to change things. You’ll start to think about how to work more productively when, ding, a meeting invite pops up for an urgent meeting to decide the fate of a product.”
Later in the article, he said, “Sure we do more busy work, but we’re doing less real work. To get any real work done we come in early, stay late, or both. That’s the only way we can get some peace and quiet.”
We must take a step back from our hectic workday and refocus our thinking on why exactly do we have our jobs anyway. Why were we given the responsibilities we have or how are we to use the authority/influence we have? Are we being good stewards of what is absolutely imperative or are we just ticking off what is necessary? We have to recapture the essential elements of our work before they’re lost in a muddle of ineffective organizational structure.
There has been lots written on effective leadership, workplace productivity, and time management. For me, these 5 helps encourage me in resetting my priorities when I lose balance or energy or joy in the work:
1) Pray – really do business with God on the issue of your stewardship of your work. Are you being faithful in the essentials?
2) Re-visit your job description and annual goals. Do they match up or have your time and mental energy been outsourced to other activities eroding your creativity and productivity?
3) Determine when you are the sharpest or freshest and guard that time of the day for the most essential thinking and decision-making you need to do. “Silence” the distractions for that block of time.
4) Practice intentionality in dealing with meeting invites, drop-ins, phone calls, or email. Urgent matters will come up and may need only your attention for some part of them. Just beware that you don’t fall into a habit of doing what may come easy – for example, filling up your day with meetings generated by others leaving you with little time for your own responsibilities.
5) Do what only you can do whenever possible. You’re in the position you’re in, hopefully, because you are just the right person for that job. What is it that you need to be focused on? You don’t just ignore the other needs of the office or organization that vie for your attention, but you help work out how best (either through a process or another person) those needs are met.
What has helped you in stewarding the essentials in your work life? What are your particular challenges?