We live and work in a world where change is the only constant. TQM, E-mail, corporate downsizing, global competition and the multicultural work force are just a few of the new organizational realities today’s staff must cope with. Supervisor techniques and practices have evolved to keep pace with change, spawning such innovations as quality circles, flex-scheduling, outsourcing and "one minute management."

But one thing that hasn’t changed much is the way we try to manage our time. Many staff still try to manage time the old-fashion, low tech way using calendars, time clocks and stick-‘em notes. More progressive staff have jumped on the high tech bandwagon and incorporated the use of PC-driven time scheduling software, only to discover that computers often take more time to fool with than good old paper and pencil!

However, both low tech and high tech time management systems tend to miss the boat because of their preoccupation with saving time (time efficiency) rather than using time for the right purposes (time effectiveness). In today’s complex, global environment, a new strategy of time management has emerged that stresses effectiveness more than efficiency: "Not to get more of it, but to get more out of it."


In yesteryear’s less complicated environment (low tech productivity, bureaucratic structure, purely domestic competition, homogeneous work force), staff viewed time as just another scarce resource (like money and supplies) to be managed efficiently. Classic time management techniques worked their way into every church’s subculture, such as Gantt charts, PERT , dictation machines and delegation. Efficiency focused staff treated time as their personal resource to be tightly controlled and hoarded.

With the arrival of new competitive realities in a high tech, interdependent world, companies quickly saw the need to stress effectiveness more than efficiency. Survival meant serving customers, assuring quality, building teamwork and accommodating the unique needs of diverse employees. The resulting effectiveness philosophy of time management sees time as the organization’s resource to be used by staff in serving key constituents (customers, employees, suppliers, etc.) Instead of selfishly hoarding time, staff are encouraged to lavish their time on those who help the church fulfill its mission.


The effectiveness philosophy of time management regards today’s supervisor as a full-fledged professional who must meet all of the responsibilities and expectations of someone from one of the professions: cutting edge competence, mission-mindedness, service-orientation and selfless dedication to duty. Time is therefore to be used in a thoroughly professional manner, namely to serve the organization’s diverse group of constituents. In short, other people now own the supervisor’s time!

This effectiveness strategy of time management is a new paradigm that takes some getting used to. The following table encapsulates the contrasting philosophies of time management:

Efficiency Philosophy

1. Save time.

2. My time belongs to me.

3. Strive to get more time.

Effectiveness Philosophy

1. Use up time.

2. My time belongs to others.

3. Strive to accomplish more with time.



Now that we are in touch with the new time management realities, it’s time to move off the drawing board and into practice. In keeping with our high tech world of computers, let’s conceptualize time management as 10 icons, which symbolize 10 supervisory strategies:

1. Radar

6. Scales

2. Target

7. Baton

3. Track

8. Quicksand

4. Matador

9. Skyscraper

5. River

10. Scorecard

Time Icon No. 1: Radar

Please respond to the following six questions by checking your response.

Do you focus more on:

1. client’s needs

your organization’s needs

2. goals achieved

time worked and effort expended

3. mission

procedures, rules paperwork

4. service mentality

control mentality

5. team accomplishments

personal accomplishments

6. quality of work

quantity of work

The first items represent the new time effectiveness strategy, while the second items reflect the passé philosophy of time management efficiency. Just as a radar zeros in on important objects in the external environment, the professional supervisor must constantly zero in on the organization’s important constituents. The supervisor’s "radar" should lock on to the needs of each key constituent and heavily invest time here.

How accurate is your radar beam? Can you state the mission of your organization in 10 words or less?

Can you state the mission of your department or team in 10 words or less?

Can you state the mission of your job in 10 words or less?

Time Icon No. 2: Target

Draw two targets (of four rings each) on a piece of paper. On each successive ring of the top target, label the four people or groups you spend the most time with. (Label the innermost bulls-eye with the one person or group you work with the very most). Label the four rings of the lower target the most important constituents of your church (putting the most important in the center).

How do the targets match up? How much time do you spend with core constituents who empower your church’s mission? If you don’t lavish much of your on core constituents, who does in your church? To what extent are you insulated from those who really make your church go? Is this insulation good for your church? For your career progress?

Take care that you don’t become a "time gamesman" who allocates time according to its political payoff rather than the corporate mission. Staff who squander time on self-enhancing political behavior lack the bearing lack the bearing of a true professional who puts ends before means, constituents before self and mission before bureaucratic busyness.



Time Icon No. 3: Track

Picture your job as a train going down a track to its ultimate destination. How frequently are you temporarily derailed by the following items? (Put H if you hardly ever use the item; S if you sometimes use it and O if you use it often).

1. Phone

2. Drop-in visitors

3. Meetings

4. Crisis/job emergencies

5. Information search

6. Mistakes

7. Miscommunication with co-workers

8. Boss/supervisor

9. Filling in for others

10. Looking for things in the office

Just as a railroad engineer must remove obstacles from the tracks to keep the train from derailing, staff must neutralize organizational factors that block mission progress. Go back through the list of 10 time obstacles and red flag those which commonly cut you off from key constituents. Only these obstacles have the potential to actually "derail your train."

For example, a phone call from a customer or client should never be treated as a "bother"—that’s who you are in service for! An unexpected visit from a key supplier should be a welcome occasion to network, not a brush fire to be put out. When someone makes an honest mistake going the extra mile, it’s time to celebrate, not incriminate!

Time Icon No. 4: Matador

Respond to the following questions as honestly and objectively as possible!

1. How important is it for you to be liked by your co-workers?

very important

somewhat important

not very important at all

2. How effective of a delegator are you?

very good



3. To what extent are you free to make your own decisions and call the shots on the job?

strongly independent

somewhat independent

not very independent

4. To what extent must you attend formal meetings in order to get your job done?




5. How assertive are you throughout a typical workday?

very assertive

somewhat assertive

not very assertive

Give the matador a cape and he can dominate a bull with all its strength and fury. The cape deflects the bull’s charge and keeps it a bay. Staff must also have the capacity to deflect time wasters and channel energy into productive directions. How well do you use your cape?

Is your need to be liked by co-workers so strong that they and control you (as el toro would dominate a capeless matador!)? The stronger your need to be liked (rather than respected), the more time you will allow others to control for you.

Poor delegators fail to capitalize on the strength of co-workers. Nonassertive staff let others dictate their time agendas (whether or not it impacts the corporate mission). Overly dependent staff--including those who allow their time to be wasted away in trivial meetings--must resign themselves to gamesmanship simply to survive the vicious horns of corporate politics.





Time Icon No. 5: River

Indicate how strongly you agree with each of the following statements:

A Strongly agree

B Somewhat agree

C Disagree

1. My co-workers call me a pack rat.

2. People often compliment me on how well-organized my office is.

3. I open all my mail.

4. I do all of my filing.

5. I keep just about everything that comes into my office, "just in case."

6. It takes me quite a while to make decisions because of frequent information overload.

7. "A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind."

People living next to the Mississippi River know all too well what happens when it rains too much--flooding is just a question of time. And so it is with our offices and work areas. When we overload them with information, files and in-progress projects, a time management flood is in the making!

Think of your office or work area as a productivity command center which receives endless inflows of resources which are processed into outflows of finished work: decisions, reports, projects, files, etc. Work and productivity should flow through your office like a river.

But when you dam up the river with poor time management practices, such as the 7 questions listed previously, the river quickly floods its banks, watering down your personal productivity. To keep the productivity river flowing, strive to release as much work and resources from your office as you let in. The more that flows into your office, the more that must flow out of your office. In this way, the river runs smoothly and stays within its banks.

Don’t allow your office to become a warehouse of information and resources stacked higher and deeper with each passing day. This will eventually cramp your work style, making it cumbersome to find the right information or resources when you really need them. Problems mount up, decisions get backlogged and your productivity becomes waterlogged.

Learn to throw away non-useful information, where to quickly get your hands on the right resources and when to stop or slow down the flow of incoming work. Just a few days of excess rain and runoff can quickly turn the serene Mississippi into a raging torrent!



Time Icon No. 6: Scales

Please fill out the following two columns dealing with how you actually allocate your time in a typical workweek vs. how you would like to allocate your time. Use the following ratings scale:



A High utilization of time



B Moderate utilization of time

Time Spent

Time Desired

C--Low utilization of time



1. Working by yourself



2. Working one-on-one with others



3. Working with a group



4. Low priority activities



5. Waiting for others



6. Means and breaks



7. Telephone conversations



8. Getting ready to work (e.g., gathering information, organizing desk)



9. Non-work-related socializing



10. Personal pursuits (errands, hobbies)



11. Performing tasks you could delegate to others



12. Commuting from home to your work area



13. Planning



14. Written communication

Put an "X" on each of the following continuums to indicate where you are in your time management practice now and draw a bulls-eye on the continuum to show where you ideally would like to be:

long-run focus (ultimate mission)

short-run focus (daily detail)

starting new activities

finishing activities in progress





working with others

working alone

crisis management

organized planning





effectiveness (doing things right)

efficiency (doing things fast)

doing work yourself

delegating to others

Scales don’t work properly unless they are balanced, and neither do we. The preceding series of column and continuum comparisons present a balanced view of productivity, giving the supervisor a wide spectrum of work priorities, styles and strategies. Too many staff search in vain for the "one best way" to do things, when they should instead be thinking about the best combination of ways to produce. When we overbalance, such as working alone too much or overdoing a single mode of communication, our creative juices dry up and productivity inevitably slides.

Highly effective staff find ways to achieve a reasonable balance between competing demands for their time. Some activities call for quantities of time, others for quality of time. Time spent on short-run brushfires must be balanced with longer-range planning. Some time is spent on the phone, some is devoted to one-on-one hallway conversations and some is invested in formal meetings. Only with a keen awareness of priorities, goals and other situational realities can staff maintain the dynamic time management balance.

Time Icon No. 7: Baton

Assess how effectively you utilize the following practices to undergird your own personal productivity (where F means frequently used; O means occasionally used; and R means rarely used).

1. Delegation

2. Clerical support

3. Computer

4. Teamwork

5. Boss

6. People from other departments

7. Committees and task forces

It’s no mystery why mile relay teams turn in much faster times than solo milers. Four runners handing off the baton can sprint through their single laps with ease, while the go-it-alone miler has to carefully pace their energy. And so it is with managing our time. We achieve far more working in unison with others than working alone.

But are we willing to pass on the baton? Do we trust our co-workers enough to co-manage projects with and through them? Are we sufficiently organized to include others? Are we willing to share the credit for our accomplishments with others?

How smoothly are you able to pas the time baton off to others? Do you have a close working relationship born of interpersonal rapport, shared goals and mission-mindedness? Do you communicate often enough? Are you willing to change when the total team picture is enhanced?

Time Icon No. 8: Quicksand

Listed in the following are the most common managerial time wasters. Indicate how often you find yourself falling into each time trap by placing one of the following numbers by each item:

2 = Frequent time trap for me

1 = Occasional time trap

0 = Infrequent time trap

1. Attending meetings of marginal importance to you.

2. Dealing with unscheduled drop-in visitors who primarily want to socialize or pursue low priority matters.

3. Handling telephone interruptions dealing with routine business.

4. Performing busy work that could be readily delegated (including word processing and computer chores).

5. Mixing personal pursuits with professional duties (e.g., running personal errands while at lunch, handling family matters over the phone).

6. Handling the same paperwork (memos, reports, minutes) multiple times.

7. Fumbling around to locate misfiled documents or misplaced information.

8. Explaining routine information to co-workers personally rather than via memo or meeting.

9. Overanalyzing or over-deliberating about relatively inconsequential decisions.

10. Waiting on others (for appointments, to provide information, to complete assignments, etc.)

It’s much easier to stay out of quicksand than it is to get out once you’re sinking in! In the same way, it’s easier to manage time productively than it is to get wasted time back. Time can be used only once, so it needs to be used in the right way at the right time.

Staff will quickly find themselves mired in productivity quicksand if they fail to use time in the right way or at the right time. Which of the previous 10 items are frequent time traps for you? Do they involve squandering time on the wrong things or doing things at the wrong time?

For example, there is a right time and a wrong time for chatting about low priority matters (item No. 2). Make time to do it when you’re not very busy. Handling paperwork multiple times (item No. 6) is always a poor use of time, so strive to open your mail when you have enough time to respond to it on-the-spot. There’s a common sense way to avoid falling into all 10 of the traps.

Time Icon No. 9: Skyscraper

Assess your tendency toward over-commitment by indicating how strongly you agree with each of the following statements:

2 = strongly agree

1 = mildly agree

0 = disagree

1. It is not unusual for me to feel overloaded with work at various times during the week.

2. It is difficult for people to get to see me without an appointment.

3. I sometimes miss work completion deadlines because I have too much to do.

4. I don’t say "no" often enough when people ask me to participate in nonessential or low priority professional activities.

5. I sometimes desire to isolate myself from others in order to completely devote myself to work.

6. I occasionally "cut corners" in the way I perform my work in order to meet deadlines and get things off my desk.

7. I am sometimes hard to get along with because of work-related stresses and strains.

When faced with seemingly endless workplace demands, it is only natural for staff to keep expanding their schedules--more hours, more output, more responsibility. Just "add another floor" onto the already tall skyscraper of work. But time isn’t infinite and neither is energy. When skyscrapers become too tall they start to lean. Eventually they topple

Working more and more hours is not the answer to time management. Time commitments must be creatively managed, not simply expanded. One simple principle should be followed: Give up an existing commitment for every new one you take on.

If you strongly agreed with many of the seven foregoing statements about your daily work schedule, your skyscraper may be about to topple. It’s time to set priorities and either complete or beg out of some low priority commitments.

Invest your previous time where it counts most. Give up something (minor) to get something (major). Retailers rotate their stock; coaches play their bench; stockholders periodically "churn" their investments. We must do the same thing with our priorities. "Time sculpting" calls for us to continuously revise and redefine how we allocate our time. What "masterpiece" calls for us to continuously revise and redefine how we allocate our time. What "masterpiece" are you chiseling out with your time right now?

Time Icon No. 10: Scorecard

The best way to evaluate a golfer is by his or her scorecard. The pars, birdies and bogies tell you all you need to know about someone’s game. Well, supervisor’s also have scorecards that reveal a lot about effectiveness and especially about how effectively time has been employed.

But a supervisor’s effectiveness is indicated not so much by what he or she has accomplished through others. How much did subordinates produce? Have team members bought into the corporate vision and mission? How resourceful (creative, flexible, synergistic) is the team? How much individual and team potential have you tapped? What’s your team’s learning curve (capacity for innovative change)?

Your answers to these probing scorecard questions tell all you need to know about your effectiveness at managing time. If employees have been effective, you have invested your time effectively. That’s the bottom line on time management.


Our new strategy for time management is really as simple as ABC: All of your time Belongs to Constituents. If staff will follow these simple ABCs, corporate success will basically take care of itself.

We all have the same amount of time each day, but some sure have a lot more to show for it. How about you? Are you a master of time, or is time your master?