Take Back Your Time: How to Maintain Focus in the Wake of Success
Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III, Author, No Opportunity Wasted: The Art of Execution
Remember when you were young and hungry, with the future just beyond your doorstep? Each day was an opportunity to fulfill your purpose, to achieve your dream. You ate, breathed and slept success – when you slept at all. There were 24 hours in a day to move you closer to your goal. Why waste a minute?
I love to recall those early days, not only because they were so invigorating, but because they remind me of how I got where I am today – with discipline, focus, drive, and the capacity to devote the vast majority of my time to my vision.
When I started out, I was twenty-four years old and determined to bring an historic but moribund institution back to relevancy. I was committed to not just carry on tradition, but to see it thrive; to make it into something greater, touching people on a global scale. I was driven, and I made it happen. Twenty-five years in, I now preach to a congregation of more than 30,000, manage a team of 60 people, and have authored nine books. I am married to a remarkable woman – a neonatologist – who is my partner in all things. We have two young children who are at the center of our lives. But success – and the determination to keep building on it – has brought challenges. One of the biggest is maintaining focus when control over those 24 hours is no longer exclusively mine.
As the leader of your organization, it is likely that you too, have others who now share your vision. They command your attention, guidance, and collaboration. They also command your schedule. It is easy to feel stretched too thin. So how do you maintain focus when you’re constantly pulled in different directions? By taking back control over each one of those hours, making them count, and enlisting your team in the effort. In doing so, you give yourself the opportunity to recharge, assess, plan and forge ahead.
You know the sensation, not only that you’re running out of time, but that you have none to begin with. Our inboxes are overflowing, social media constantly beckons, and we are so overbooked with meetings that they begin to blur together. It all leaves little room to focus on your vision, which is what got you where you are today. So you must make room.
So first, think about regularly scheduling meetings with yourself in which to avoid distractions and reconnect with your purpose. Disconnect in order to reconnect – step away and clear out the emotional clutter.
Next, put a high price on the time you do have to give. If you aren’t the dictator of your time, others will dictate to you. It may be difficult to imagine scheduling every minute of your life, but by doing so, you avoid the pitfalls that come from allowing others to co-opt your calendar. Also, respect the true parameters of your appointments, always accounting for things like travel time, check-in or set-up. In this way, you’ll be less likely to run behind or have to steal time from one thing to give it to another.
Finally, treat your time like the precious commodity it is and insist that those around you to do so as well. That means no one gets on your calendar without your permission. You might be thinking, “I am far too busy to approve all appointments,” but that’s probably because you currently don’t. Every one of those appointments should have an agenda, which will in turn help with staying on time. Even schedule your family time, so that no one else may encroach upon it.
Most importantly, schedule time to refuel and breathe. After all, the easiest way to lose focus is to not have any time to tend to it.
About the Author
Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III is the pastor of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee and Presiding Bishop of Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International. In 1992 at the age of 24, Bishop Walker began his pastorate at Mt. Zion with 175 members, which has grown to over 30,000, and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. He’s the author of the newly released book called No Opportunity Wasted: The Art of Execution. You can connect with Bishop Walker at: https://www.josephwalker3.org/