Five Critical Paradigm Shifts to Time Management Success

Feb 9, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

“I don’t have any time to do what it takes to have more time.”  How many times have you heard this?  How many times have you said this??

We are all really busy.  We buy books, software, and planners to manage time.  We take the time to make task lists and prioritize.  We may even hire business or life coaches to help us find work/life balance.

Are we getting results?

Where Are You on the Work/Life Balance Scale?

Do you have more time? Are you getting more done?  If you rated your quality of life today on a scale of 1 -10, ten being you are out of time to find any more time because something in your life is about to crumble, where would you be?

As a business coach and counselor I talk to people daily, and I mean that literally, who don’t have enough time.

Usually the conversation starts out the same.  I give suggestions on how to find more time and they give me all of the reasons that they don’t have time to take any of the suggestions.

It’s a vicious, and somewhat ridiculous, circle.

And it is a “hamster wheel” I have been on before.  But I conquered it.  I really did.

I am not going to write a how to on time management because you already have all of the books and the systems (or my prior posts).

A Change in Paradigm, Not Just Priority

It requires a paradigm shift to make progress.  It really does.  You need to change your paradigm on one or more of the following:

  1. What is really most important. You can say that family is more important than work.  You can say that your employees are more important than your tasks.  You can pay lip service to the cliches and right answers, but if your time and attention never shift…..if the excuses persist….if the stress remains….than it is just lip service and always will be.
  2. Time management is just a tool. You must realize that going through the motions won’t produce results. You bought the day timer and religiously worked the system.  Your day timer is full, you’re still swamped, and now you spend even more time managing the time management system.  This is missing the point.  You can use the tool to schedule appointments, to plan time for tasks, and to see what needs to get done.  But if you go to the scheduled meeting on a priority topic and nothing gets accomplished, you have still wasted the time.  If you never make difficult calls to say no to commitments and to keep the commitments you have made faithfully, you are still overwhelmed and your integrity remains in danger.
  3. Planning is essential. Tools or no tools, we have to see the big picture to make wise decisions.  Remember, number 1 and 2 above.  I am not suggesting to plan for planning sake.  I don’t believe that life has to be planned out minute by minute.  We need to trust God and follow the Holy Spirit.  Planning can occur even while acknowledging that God is in control.  As a matter of fact, true planning allows us to have enough margin to follow and obey God when changes and unplanned situations occur.  To me, an essential component of effective planning is to have a birds eye view of your world.  What is out there?  What have I already committed to?  Am I focusing on what is important in my life?  Am I putting my Christian values first in my actions and decisions?
  4. Trust God. We can’t truly say we are trusting God if we know we are not following His path for us.  God says our marriage is our most important relationship outside of our relationship with Him.  If we have missed dinner for 4 out of 5 nights every week for the past year, we are not trusting God’s prioritization.  It might happen a week or two, but we need to make changes to ensure this type of situation doesn’t go on indefinitely.  God says we need to be good stewards.  I think time is a huge resource we have stewardship over.  If we go through the motions of getting tasks scheduled, but then the time we spend only pushes the same task to another day or activity, we need to look at our effectiveness.

I have kept these paradigms broad and big picture on purpose.  My goal is not to go give you one more “time management tip” to try.  It is to get you really thinking about the paradigms that you have about time and to be honest with yourself whether or not you are really trying to effectively manage your time.

A Case Study

I do have a specific instance that exemplifies what I am trying to illustrate.  I know a couple of small business owners who are pretty successful by the world’s terms in their business.

They work a ton though.

They are stressed.

They know time management is a big deal.

In the past year they have signed up for two online systems, gone to a week long seminar, paid for and attended business coaching every week, and have purchased many of the books recommended from coaching and seminars.  They profess to not have time to implement any of it.  And, in reality, they haven’t executed.

They realized that they weren’t even having time to meet with each other and this was causing decisions to be made without the whole picture or miscommunications to occur frequently.

We agreed that a weekly meeting where they discussed the “working on their business” issues was necessary and that they needed to hold each other accountable for having the meeting and doing the things they decided during the meetings.

After the first meeting, they described how they discussed many critical issues.  With further inquiry they realized that they did not develop any solutions, next steps or people responsible for doing anything.  They just discussed the same issues they have had for over a year.

If you just measure time management success as finding time to meet and to discuss the priorities of the business, they did that!  But now they have added another weekly meeting where no change is occurring.

Getting To The Heart of The Matter

The fifth bullet point in the list above is:

5.  Change your heart. I know this is so esoteric and doesn’t have this really good set of action steps.  However, as a reformed workaholic, until you admit you have a problem….until you realize your heart hasn’t been in it……..until you commit to truly manage your time to what is most important….nothing will change.  Money can’t be thrown at it.  The fanciest tool will not be effective.  Burnout will not slow down.

You have to decide in your heart that you want to, and will, change your paradigm about time.  About it’s value.  About how your time management speaks to the world what is important to you.

Satan loves the world we live in and the busyness of people.  It keeps them from truly clinging to God and His ways.  It gives Satan the opening he stands waiting for to ruin your health, your relationships, and your faith.

Are you ready to fight back??

Reader Interactions


  1. David@RedLetterBelievers says

    Another amazing article. Last night at my small group we were talking about ‘hurry’. And it wasnt so much a matter of scheduling, but it was a matter of priorities. Our priority should be about relationship — and all that other stuff can just ‘wait’

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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