Is your calendar jam packed with meetings? Does your to-do list continue to expand even after a productive day? Do you spend so much time serving the needs of others that you rarely have time to take care of yourself? There was a time when I would have answered, “yes” to all of those questions. I wasn’t happy about it or proud of it; I just thought it was the reality of leadership. Looking back now, I’d describe it as a season of high productivity but only mediocre leadership.
Leaders get things done, but productivity and leadership are not synonymous. In fact, doing too many things is often counter-productive to actually leading. So, if you’re a leader whose calendar or to-do list is getting out of hand, consider a few of the things I’ve learned the hard way about balancing leadership and productivity.
1) Overload leads to burnout, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Overload creeps up on us a little at a time, so we often don’t see what’s going on until we feel the pain. As leaders, we have to constantly be on guard to identify and take the early warning signs of overload seriously so we can make adjustments before we are severely depleted.
2) Get too busy for too long and you’ll forget why you lead.
Leadership vision and motivation flow from our center, that place where we connect with God and are reminded of what really matters. To keep vision fresh and authentic we must establish regular rhythms of spiritual disciplines to help us stay centered and confident in the chaos of leadership. I’m not just talking about daily prayer and bible reading. Those things are good but to sustain us over the long haul we also need extended times of silence, solitude, and reflection.
3) Great leaders live full lives that include joy, friends, family, fun, and laughter.
We can’t authentically call others to join us in a life that we do not really enjoy living ourselves. When an honest assessment of our life yields areas of disappointment it’s time to make a change even if it means doing less in our organization so that we can do more for ourselves.
There will always be more good ideas than can reasonably be accomplished. Great leaders realize they cannot do it all so they choose to focus on a few great ideas, and say “no” to all the others.
Leadership is a journey of becoming more of the person God wants us to be. In the end, it’s the process that God is more concerned with than the productivity. What have you learned about balancing leadership and productivity? How do you keep your calendar or to-do list from getting overloaded? Leave your tips and ideas below.