Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How One Leader Managed His Time, Saved His Family Life and Avoided Job Burnout

Having a reserve means we don’t have to keep being distracted and drained by the need. Rather, we will eliminate problems and pressure and have the unencumbered ability to reach our potential best.

Imagine a well. If it has just a little water in it, what happens? You start being very careful with using the water you have. You keep checking the level. You may start worrying. You constantly search for emergency sources. Now imagine the well filled to the top with water. Notice how you feel now. Concern has decreased dramatically. Our lives can be like that almost empty well. We live beyond the limits of what we have on hand. There is little left to draw from.

Consider Phil, struggling to juggle work and family. Phil wanted things to be done right. He’d give 110 percent to any project he put his hand too. He was noticed. More projects and offers of promotion came his way. His experience and expertise were sought out. You’d think this success would energize him, but the opposite took place. Phil’s discretionary time eroded. Since work had to be done, his family had reluctantly slipped into the discretionary category. Phil had little time for his family, little time to spend with God, no time for himself and constantly lived in the future, longing for a day when it would be different.

Several trips to the hospital later, with panic attacks, missed work and a deteriorating approach to people around him, I received Phil’s call. Over time we strategized about the future he saw and how to bring it into the present. Phil needed to carve out some time to actually relax and figure out where he was going.

After gaining some real clarity about his tending towards being a perfectionist, he started by saying “no” to new projects until he finished a project already started. He cut the number of projects back to reflect a more comfortable working pace. This moved him closer to balance. Phil began praying more and he physically started booking his family in as priority time. He concentrated whole undistracted days on unfinished business, cleaning up his long to-do lists.

Bits of discretionary time started to appear. This gave him a little time to relax and think about the offers coming in and just what he and his family really wanted from life. Clarity led to an intentional, but flexible strategy being developed to cover the short, medium and longer term in his life.

What did Phil get that was so important? Time. Once that was carved out, he could think clearer, act smarter and begin to enjoy his wife, family and himself again. Having a reserve of time improved how he looked at people, his health and his approach to living. Talking about it garnered the respect of others around him. Now, things have changed. No offer or activity could convince Phil to deteriorate that reserve of personal time he now guards so closely.

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