The Key to Progress: How Leaders Can Make Time for Important Projects


Are you struggling to find time for your most important projects? Discover one practical strategy to prioritize and start new initiatives, ensuring your leadership drives progress and innovation.

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Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 2:00 PM EST

That Title Feels a Little Clickbait’ish

I don’t write clickbait posts. My goal is to offer helpful insights you can use today.

Yet, I suspect many (all) of us have two things in common:

  1. We have one or more new projects we want to work on.
  2. We need more time to work on them.

If this is you, keep reading. I have a solution to offer.

What Do You Need to Work On?

If you’re a leader of any kind, you have something you’re dying to work ON. Perhaps it is a product, a team, a service offering, or something even more grandiose.

If you’re a pastor, I suspect your “make it better” list contains things like discipleship pathways, generosity, volunteer engagement, attendance, etc.

Leaders innovate. If you’re a leader, you see things that need fixing and desperately want to innovate solutions. You can hardly stand average or mediocre.

Why Aren’t You Working ON It More?

Every leader attempts to balance working ON it and IN it.

  • Working ON it means solving problems, innovating new projects or services, and trying new things.
  • Working IN it means orchestrating what currently exists. It’s more akin to managing than leading.

Most leaders spend most of their time managing what currently exists rather than working on what could and should exist.

Why? Because that’s the pull of every organization, business, and church.

Once something is up and running, keeping it running becomes the priority. We hire, staff, and operate to keep the current thing operational. These managing efforts take up all of our time.

What should you do? You know there are important things that need attention. You also have too many urgent things capturing your attention.

Why Important Things Don’t Get Done

The number one reason important things never get done is that leaders wait to find margin in their schedules to work on them. Discovering margin is nearly impossible—like searching for a treasure chest in the ocean without a map.

Margin doesn’t appear. If you find a minute, somebody or something will fill it up.

If you’re waiting for more time, don’t hold your breath. You’ll most likely die before a free minute appears.

The solution is conceptually simple but practically challenging.

To explain it, let’s go back in time before you had a child. If you’re without children, I suspect you know someone who experienced the insanity of having one.

Nobody is ready to have kids. While some may say they are ready, they most likely have no idea what’s coming—a 7-lb beautiful, non-sleeping terror. Don’t get me wrong—I love children. I have four and love them to death. But they rock every new parent’s unsuspecting world.

When you had that first kid, what did you do? I’ll tell you. You figured it out. You didn’t have extra time, but you figured it out. You didn’t have extra money, but you made it work.

Children are amazingly adaptive and resilient. So are parents. We figure it out.

The Secret to Making Time for Important Tasks and Projects Is…

To just start.

Treat that new idea or essential project you need to work on like a new baby. Have a delivery date and just start working on it.

I’m not kidding. If you’re waiting for time, you’ll never find it. So just start. If you’re like every other leader I know, you’ll figure it out. You’ll find the time to get the other things done as you incorporate this new thing into your life, and, in short order, your new normal will include your new project.

I say this from experience. While I was launching my coaching and consulting practice, Zondervan offered me a book deal. I didn’t have time to write a book, but I did it because I had just started. And somehow, it happened.

Whenever I have an idea for a new course, E-book, sermon, or piece of content to help pastors or marketplace leaders, I think, “I wish I had more time to work on that.” Then I remember just to start. Just begin.

Are You Ready to Work ON Something, Not Just IN Your Church or Business?

My advice is simple: Just start.

Often the act of starting is the most painful and arduous. I know your calendar is full; everyone just wants “five minutes of your time.” That is my life, too. But I don’t allow that to keep me from starting the new things that deserve to come to fruition.

So just start.

You’ll be glad you did.

I’d Love to Hear From You…

I’d love to know the BIG, IMPORTANT thing you’d love to find time to work on. I may have a resource or two that could help or a friend who’s been there before.

I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email and let me know, and I’ll send you what I’ve got that may help.