If You're Busy, These Four Rules Will Multiply Your Time

We all know how busy life can be for church leaders.

As summer winds down, there's gonna be a day when you look at your task list, and your calendar and simply can't fit it all in.  I totally get it. Leading a church, enjoying your family and friends and all the other stuff that goes into a healthy life. All of it matters! But there just doesn't seem to be enough time to make it all happen.

Time Management - It Doesn't Work

Since I was in college, I've been told that the solution to 'too-much-to-do-not-enough-time' is time management. Take all the stuff that you need to do. Prioritize what is important. Make room for the urgent. Let go of the rest.

Maybe you've run into three problems that I experience with time management.

First, while I would love to ignore stuff like expense reports, they have to get done. Ignoring non-urgent, non-important tasks doesn't make them disappear.

Second, what is urgent and important changes often. School starts for my three boys in a week, so I'm trying to spend more time with them than usual. That means that something else has to take lower priority than it did two weeks ago. And I'm about to start fundraising for a new project in the next few weeks so that will take up time that will have to disappear from somewhere else. And I don't know about you, but juggling my life wears me out!

Third, time management doesn't work very well when you want to do more things. We all live in a world where there are only 24 hours in a day and only 168 hours in a week. If my life is full right now, how do I make time for anything else?

Thankfully, there's a solution that doesn't require you to ask God to make time stand still.


I know you don't think delegation works for you, even when you know that having someone else do some things for you is the right solution. You freak out that stuff won't be good enough; that it won't be done on time; that it won't meet your standards; and most importantly, that it won't be as good as you could do it. 

It would just be faster if you did it yourself, right?

Actually, you are right. It would be faster if you went ahead and knocked out that expense report instead of delegating that to someone else. 

But it would only be faster the first time.

Because the time spent today training someone to do what you want will pay off significantly down the road. How do I know that? Because you'll be able to prioritize and focus on the work that only you can do in your job or at home. 

Over the past few years, I've adopted four rules of delegation that I'd love for you to consider:

1. The Significance Rule

Focus on doing work that only you can do and should do.

2. The 75 Rule 

If someone can do a non-significant task 75 percent as well as you, train them to do that task for you. That someone might be a team member already in place, a volunteer, or a virtual assistant.

3. The Results Rule 

Before you train people to perform tasks, see if you can delegate results. I love doing this with members of my team who already know how to do what I am asking them to do. By focusing on outcomes, I leave room for people to take ownership of that particular project or process. What I find is that I usually end up with something better than what I could have produced.

4. The 30x Rule 

When I am working with a new team member who I am not ready to delegate results rather than tasks, I use the 30x rule to determine how much time it should take to train someone to replace me. I'm not sure where I picked this up but here's a pretty good explanation from Rory Vaden's excellent book, Procrastinate on Purpose. Here's how he learned the 30x Rule:

If a daily task took a skilled person like yourself five minutes to complete, you should plan to spend at least a hundred and fifty minutes (five minutes multiplied by thirty) instructing a subordinate [NOTE: I hate the word 'subordinate'] how to complete the task.

Now the hundred and fifty minutes shouldn't all be done at one time and could be spread over a few months as you help the subordinate master the task.

Here's the math behind the 30x Rule, again from Vaden's book:

If a task were to take you personally five minutes a day for two hundred and fifty days in a working year, then that means you would spend 1,250 minutes per year on that task. Rather than doing that, however, if you decided to spend a hundred and fifty minutes training someone to do that five-minute task, and they instead did that task for you, then that would give you an annual savings of eleven hundred minutes per year.

By my math, eleven hundred minutes comes out to around 18 hours, or around two days, of time multiplied. And while that may not sound like a game-changer, multiply 18 hours by the umpteen minute tasks that stare you down and steal time away from what only you can do.

And, hey, if you completely crash and burn at delegating a result or task, you can always take it back, right? 

But before we call the fire and rescue team to put out the fire created by delegation, let's Smokey the Bear this thing and see what we can do to prevent an inferno.

Before You Delegate

Take 15 minutes and list out all of the tasks you are presently responsible for daily, weekly and monthly.

Take 15 more minutes and circle every task on your list that is 'significant' - using the time today/this week/this month in a way that creates more time tomorrow.

Take 15 more minutes and decide who can take on the tasks you have listed that are not significant. If you do not have someone on your team who can take on those tasks, put a question mark (?) next to that task.

Take 15 more minutes to map out a plan for recruiting a volunteer assistant and contracting a virtual assistant to take on your question mark (?) tasks.

Finally, take 15 final minutes and schedule time with team members you have 'assigned' to take on non-significant tasks. Plan to talk about what you want them to do, how you want it done, and why this is a win for you and them and your church.

And, hey, if you get stuck on any of this and need some help, holler at me and I'll take a look at your situation.

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