Managing Your Time and Sanity: Part 2

Last issue, we looked at mission statements and how they keep us from becoming overloaded with “good” things that are “bad” for you mission! That brings us to the “D-4 Formula,” which keeps us from over-loading our lives.


This is a very simple exercise. Standing upright in a relaxed position, take a deep breath, and as you exhale say, “No.” (You may need to practice this exercise in front of a mirror or with a friend, but it is easier than drinking raw eggs with bee pollen and running 10 miles every day.)

By knowing our limits, we can honestly say, “Thanks so much for asking, but I’ll have to say no.” What a time-saving device, and it keeps our AR’s manageable!


This is simple. If someone has more time and more talent for a particular project, defer or delegate the task to him or her. One of the best things that happened to the church my wife pastors was to be without a pastor prior to our arriving. They had taken over the “serving tables” ministries in the absence of a pastor who does it all.


There are some real advantages of delaying a task or project a while.

  1. By delaying, we may not have to do it at all. I never start to seriously work on a speech for a conference until about a week before the meeting. Recently two conferences have been cancelled because of budget problems. (At least they told me that was the reason!) Fortunately I hadn’t spent months preparing a talk for a seminar that never materialized.
  2. By delaying, our subconscious has time to work on the task. When I’m working on an article or speaking assignment, I tell that little creative “muse” inside my head, “Don’t bother me with your ideas right now. Keep working on it and I’ll get back with you closer to the deadline.” It’s amazing — and sometimes frightening — the work our subconscious creativity can produce when given enough time.
  3. By delaying, we avoid wasting time. The principle that “work expands to fill the time allotted” is so true. (If you don’t believe it, just remember your last board meeting.) A meeting scheduled for three hours will take three hours to deal with the agenda items. If it’s scheduled for an hour and a half, it will take an hour and a half to deal with the same agenda.

Delaying a task, however, is not the same as procrastinating or just “putting something off.” We must allow adequate time to do the task well, but mustn’t give it more time than it deserves.


Finally, if we can’t say “Don’t,” can’t delegate, or delay, then we must “Do.” But if we’ve kept our AR’s below our Z-units, we’ll have enough energy to complete our responsibilities with a degree of Composure.

©1988 James N. Watkins

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