“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17
My days of automatically filling up my calendar with tasks are done. A leader can’t afford to confuse activity with productivity. A leader has to prioritize and commit time to those things that make the day most productive.
That’s why I schedule white space into my calendar. My target is always to leave 20 percent of my time free. I would suggest that you fight for that same percentage.
What might that look like? You could choose to create margin every day. If you spend on average sixteen hours a day awake, creating margin means leaving three hours and twelve minutes unscheduled every day. If you wanted to think in terms of your week, you would need to leave about twenty-two and a half hours unscheduled every week. Margin by the month: leave six days totally open. By the year: seventy-two unscheduled days.
You may be saying to yourself, “I can’t do that. I can’t spare three hours a day or six days a month. And I’m definitely not taking more than seventy days off!” I think the same way. That’s why margin is so difficult to maintain….
Yet to create margin, taking essential time off is exactly what we need to learn how to do. You can’t maintain your priorities if you fill your life with busyness.
Few things give a leader as great a return as good priorities. That’s why I say they are the key to leadership.
If you’re a high-energy doer, you may find it difficult to stop, take stock of your activities, think through your priorities, and reevaluate what you do and how you do it. But you need to do it—not just once but day after day, year after year. Priorities never stay put. Yet if you can learn to master the principles of priorities and you develop the discipline of applying them continually, you will find your personal and professional effectiveness will be off the charts.