I promise I'm not trying to get a Taylor Swift song stuck in your head by titling this article: Blank Space. However, when talking about time management, including some blank spaces on your calendar can be beneficial. While I have written a past article about scheduling my to-do list, I also leave about three blank spaces a day (three hours total) on my calendar for three reasons.
1. Conversation - Yes, I am an introvert and I am refreshed after time alone, but I also understand the importance of conversation. So I leave blank spaces on my calendar to allow for conversation. Whether it is conversing with members of my team, or calling a key volunteer or a co-worker dropping into my office, I have some blank spaces on my calendar for moments of conversation.
2. Get Ahead - As I finish one task I look ahead to the next item on the calendar. When I approach a blank space on my calendar, I often look ahead and try to finish one item from the next day's agenda. This will free up space on the next day for items on my 'important/non-urgent' list (like personal development, prayer, lesson planning, etc.).
3. Interruptions - Finally, every leader will have interruptions. For my calendar, having blank spaces scheduled each day allow for interruptions. Whether it's a work emergency, helping a co-worker or a surprise visit from a key volunteer, I am not worried about being off schedule as I know I can adjust my blank spaces and arrange accordingly.
When I first began my current time management system, I had every minute of the day blocked off and something was scheduled during those blocks of time. However, I noticed I was not intentional with conversation and when an interruption happened, I was stressed. However, now that I am allowing up to three hours worth of 'blank space', I am allowing some flexibility into the daily calendar.
How do you arrange your daily calendar? Do you have any flexibility in your schedule?
The more leadership books and articles I read, I become more aware of self-awareness. True, I am learning more about myself as I read, but I am also learning more about this concept of 'self-awareness'.
Apparently, leadership guru's like to talk about self-awareness. John Maxwell states, "If you want to change and grow, then you must know yourself and accept who you are before you can start building." -- John Maxwell. However, one Bible verse alone let's me know about who I am - "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it." Jeremiah 17:9. How then can we lead a people if we are deceitful, sick and full of sin?
Proverbs 1:7 is a great place to begin. To lead well, I argue that instead of leading from a foundation of self-awareness, leaders should begin by becoming a "Proverbs 1:7 Leader". Let's explore it together:
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
First, a Proverbs 1:7 Leader will lead from an understanding of who God is. The Majestic King of the Universe created all things for His glory, yet mankind sinned (Genesis 1-3). Because of mankind's sin, death entered into the world. Now, we have all sinned and deserve eternal punishment and eternal death. But God's plan was to send His perfect Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus was our substitute when He died. So now, when we place our faith in the work of Jesus, we can be saved from eternal death and punishment.
Once a Proverbs 1:7 Leader recognizes his or her own need for a Savior, he or she will 'fear' the Lord. Fear in this passage means to be in awe or reverence. The more a Proverbs 1:7 Leader knows and understands about God, the more he/she will grow as a leader.
Secondly, fools despise this type of knowledge. If someone is not in awe of God, then who would they be in awe of? Self, money, fame, and possessions. We have already noted above that the human heart is sick and and deceitful. So when someone is not in awe of God, they are in awe of their own sick heart and they place their trust in the deceitfulness of their own heart.
Since we are deceitful and sick, the Proverbs 1:7 Leader must follow someone before they can lead others. So in order to be a Proverbs 1:7 Leader, you must:
1. Be in awe of God.
2. Revere God.
3. Recognize your own sinfulness (self-awareness)
4. Rely on God's wisdom and strength as a leader.
Are you a Proverbs 1:7 Leader? What is the foundation of your leadership?
In May of 2016, I suffered a concussion from a simple bump on the head. Since that time, I have been dealing with Post Concussion Syndrome. Psychological issues, emotional changes, headaches, memory loss, an absence of visual memory, and more has caused some changes in my life that I had to learn to deal with over the past year. With all that my family and I have dealt with regarding PCS, one positive outcome has been my desire to read books.
Over the course of my life, I have never had a desire to read books. It's true, because of my undergraduate and graduate school work, I had to read numerous books during my days in school. However, aside from my assigned reading I have read ZERO books...until 2017. As I ponder this new routine and the 20+ Leadership Books I've read this year, a few things come mind about reading.
Focus - I've found that reading a book enables me to focus on one idea at a time, rather than jumping from one idea to the next. Multitasking and jumping from one idea to the next takes more brainpower than we truly realize. So focusing on one idea/concept has been a big part of the healing process for my instance of Post Concussion Syndrome. I also do not move on to another book until I finish the one I'm in the middle of reading. Not only does it keep me focused on one concept, but it also motivates me to finish and move on to the next book.
Memory - I understand many other people who suffer from PCS may have different experiences than what I faced, but my experience has greatly affected my memory. Granted I didn't have the world's best memory before my accident, but my short term memory and especially my visual memories have suffered since May 2016. While I don't remember much of what I read this year, I have learned to take notes and use postcards to capture thoughts I have about a page or chapter I finished. And I even use my phone at times to take a picture of a quote or certain page I wanted to remember. I now have a folder in the photo section of my phone for all of the John Maxwell pages I've enjoyed reading this year.
Rest - I am aware that for some people, reading a book and trying to focus while reading can be stressful on the brain. However, after my concussion, I find reading a book to be restful and relaxing for my brain. I have found that reading a chapter from a book before I go home at the end of the work day can be beneficial in helping the brain rest after a long day in the office. If you do find reading a book more stressful than relaxing, try reading until you find a book/genre you enjoy. Start with a small book as well. You can also download a book and listen to it while driving or running.
These are a few of the benefits I have found from reading this year. There are many other benefits I have found along the way in my new routine. But these have been more beneficial considering the change my body has gone through since May of 2016. What benefits do you receive from reading?