I know you have experienced this before. You are knee-deep in a project, thought, or even a day dream and someone knocks on your office door. Startled, you curtly ask what the offender wants or needs from you. They sheepishly respond that it was nothing important and say they will come back later. Maybe they are bold enough to say they wanted to talk with you about a subject, but you tell them it is not a good time. You will get back to them later…but you don’t.
If you are a leader in business, you have been unexpectedly interrupted and responded in a way that you may regret later. This likely happens fairly often. It could be a knock on the door or a phone call. It might even be an email asking for a few minutes of your time. The “interruptions” can take on many forms. Your response is not always ugly, but depending on how often it happens, you likely do not give off the best vibes.
At the same time, you argue that there is no way for you to have a revolving door to your office, allowing any and all comers to stop in for a chat. In fact, if you are like me, you are always trying to better manage your time and have determined that eliminating distractions like this can dramatically increase your productivity and results!
So what is the answer? How in the world are you to accomplish both? More importantly, is accomplishing both even a worthy goal? Is it important enough to figure out?
The Dangers of an Over-Managed Day
Let’s look for a moment at the dangers of eliminating the distractions described above. When you manage your time to the point that you do not have it for these kinds of conversations, you can cause damage to your leadership reputation both inside and outside your organization. People begin to see you as unapproachable. Some might even avoid all contact with you for fear that you might get upset if they interrupt you.
Even worse than that is the missed opportunities for developing those up and coming leaders in your organization. By eliminating their ability to approach you at critical times in their development, you may be stunting their growth and limiting their contribution to the overall mission. Worst of all, you miss opportunities to connect with and learn from those who “interrupt” you.
All Things in Moderation
I am passionate about learning to maximize my time and productivity. I have spent a lot of time and money to learn from those who have more experience and skills in this area. I am getting better at it each year. I am seeing significant increases in my results and in the impact I can have for eternity. The exciting part is that I am learning how to do this while also reducing my stress and improving my quality of life and free time outside of work.
As hard as I am pushing to better manage my time, I am determined not to eliminate the time I spend with others in meaningful, productive conversations. I believe God has given us the responsibility to pour into others whenever we have the opportunity (1 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:2). I believe this is a crucial part of our responsibilities as Christian business leaders.
As I have described before, we will not be held accountable at the end of this life for how much wealth or business growth we have created. When our “work” is tested by God’s fire, only what is eternal will survive and bring reward (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The “interruptive” conversations described above have the potential for eternal reward built into them. The way in which we respond can determine whether we do or do not have an eternal impact on those people.
In light of this, I have compiled 5 steps you can take to help you avoid these impact-crippling dangers of over-managing your time. I will cover these steps in my next post. In the meantime, I encourage you to take your time and pray about your current situation. Ask God if you are seen as approachable or feared. Ask Him to touch your heart and give you clarity around where you are vulnerable. He is faithful to open your eyes!
Photo by BrianAJackson / iStock