I was talking to someone recently who’s finding her boss a bit challenging. He’s a lovely guy, but so busy and disorganised in his own life and work, there’s not a chance he will be able to be a good manager for her.
A friend of mine also has issues with leading himself. He’s popular and sociable, with a demanding job, and just seems unable to plan ahead, consider his commitments and say no to some of them.
Bill Hybels, in his book Courageous Leadership talks about the importance for leaders of being able to lead themselves, but I think it’s good advice for anyone at any stage of life.
I used to be pretty haphazard with finances. thankfully, I never got into any serious trouble, but going unexpectedly overdrawn one time was enough to scare me into putting my house in order (at least in that area). I got a friend to help me draw up a reasonable budget and, because a big part of the problem had been spending on my debit card and not keeping track of what was left in the bank, I decided to go to the bank every payday, withdraw the amount I had designated for my needs, and divide the cash into different envelopes. One envelope was for food and household supplies, one was for crafts and clothes, one for gifts and one for entertainment. The rest stayed in the account to go on rent and bills, into savings and for emergencies.
It revolutionised my life! All of a sudden I was in complete control of my spending. If the ‘clothes’ envelope was empty, there was simply no point going shopping. If I wanted to go to the cinema, I just had to check the relevant envelope and see whether or not I could afford it.
The same principle works for managing your time – work out how much discretionary time you’ve got available, and decide what your priorities are for how you are going to spend it.
Alternatively, if you’re wondering where all your time goes, think about what an average week looks like (or the last week, if you never have an average one!). What have you spent your time on? How closely do the proportions tally with your life goals or priorities? What do you need to change? How can you do it?
You can’t expect to be a good leader of others if you can’t even lead yourself – do you want to be the sort of person of whom it is said ‘he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag’? Keeping a million balls in the air isn’t heroic, it isn’t marvellous, it isn’t laudable, it just means that you haven’t taken the time to decide which balls are important, which only you can keep in the air, and which can be dropped, passed on to someone else, or put aside for later.
It’s a satisfying and empowering feeling to get control of an area of your life that was causing problems, and it’s not as hard as you think.