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The Coaching Dept. Blog

The Truth About Time

As I recently wrote in a LinkedIn post, this time of year brings on a new kind of overwhelm for many. The truth is any season and any time of year brings on overwhelm in our society. Many of us proudly wear the “I’m so busy” badge with great honor. We have been building this habit for a long time. So much so, that we become convinced that time is a thing “out there” that we need to manage and control. And we believe that the busier we are, the better, more important, and more successful we are.

We all know that there is a finite amount of this resource we call time. 1440 minutes per day for each of us. The truth is that we can’t manage it at all. We can’t control it no matter how hard we try. The only thing we can control is how we show up in time.

What do you believe about time? If your belief isn’t serving you well, are you willing to shift your thinking?  What if you believed time was internal, and as Gay Hendricks writes in his remarkable book The Big Leap, that “you are the source of time?” It’s an interesting concept to explore. We invite you to take this idea for a ride. Hendricks suggests a great place to start is to go on a “no complaint about time” diet. (Finally a diet that might be worthwhile!) That means no matter what, we can’t use time as our excuse. What do you think would happen for you if you tried it?

Where are you going, and who is driving?

What is your vision? Do you know your goals? Do you know your values? Do you know what is important in your life? Do you know what is important each day? Are your actions in alignment with your goals and your values? Or is your value just to fight the fires of the day? I recently met a manager who stated that her job was to fight fires. Now that’s a good thing if you are a firefighter for real. Not so good if you are a manager and a leader of a team.

Are your daily activities moving you toward the person, leader, spouse, teammate, or friend that you want to become, or is someone or something else at the helm?

Reality check on your calendar

Our calendar is not how we spend our time—even if it is color coded and beautifully organized with e-stickers. If you are courageous, do a simple time study. Track your “actual” time for one week in increments of 15 minutes. It will tell you the real story. What conclusions and decisions will you make from this data?

It is simple. When our life feels out of balance, it is simply a choice that we give a disproportionate amount of time to things that take us away from what we see as important. We often ask clients “What are you majoring on?” Frequently the response is “the minor things—he unimportant and the urgent.” Now that isn’t to say that urgent matters can’t be important, but again, if we major in them, we are likely going to feel exhausted, unfulfilled, and out of balance.

Here’s a big idea if you are willing to continue down the path of owning time and how you show up in it. We love Jennifer White’s book Work Less, Make More. Over the years we’ve coached clients and worked with four main ideas from the book that can have a big impact on your time. They are Eliminate, Automate, Duplicate, and Delegate.  

The concept of eliminating is a big one in time management and self leadership. In coaching we often talk about simplifying your life. Eliminating things from your life is one of the most powerful ways to do that. Consider eliminating clutter, both physical and mental. Eliminate things that you do that do not move you toward your goals. Remove or reduce the things you do that waste your time. Eradicate distractions. Eliminate people who drain your energy. Eliminate habits that don’t serve you. When you eliminate things, be aware of how you fill the space. If you don’t pay attention, the void will usually be filled with other time wasters. Choose wisely. For example, if you decide to eliminate one hour of television per day, decide what valuable activity you will do during that time. Otherwise, as we all know, we end up wasting time on less meaningful actions. Choose activities that are important! When you have done some significant work on eliminating things out of your life it will automatically be more manageable.

Next is automation. Think of the things you could automate in your life and in your business. Things like auto-responders, emails, answering services, bill paying services, birthday reminders, and calendars. Many of these can save time when used wisely.

Duplicating is an interesting and powerful concept. How can you duplicate you? Who could you train to attend some of the meetings you do not need to attend? Who could you partner with and share some responsibilities?

Now consider delegating. This is not just about getting things off your plate, but to make sure the delegating makes sense. It may make sense for someone else to do things that are not the best use of your time. We have experienced leaders in organizations that do things that don’t make sense. They may be doing things that they did when the organization was small, and they still do it. We see examples like opening all the mail, typing their own correspondence, editing their communications, or building their own PowerPoint presentations. There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things, if they choose to do them, and it makes sense. The reality, however, is that there are likely options to have someone else do them more efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost. What could you delegate that would make sense?

So what is your truth about time?

Now, you might be wondering, “Hey coach, how are you doing with all of this stuff? Have you perfected the truth about time?” To which I will answer by going back to that LinkedIn post I mentioned at the beginning of the blog. A manager kindly reached out with a complimentary comment about the post and I replied, “Full disclosure—you know I wrote this post for me!”

We welcome our next conversation with you.

Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To contact them call 1-866-822-3481 toll free or e-mail or

About the author

Shelley MacDougall

Shelley MacDougall is dedicated to creating leaders in life! Whether she is coaching one on one, facilitating learning for groups, or delivering keynote presentations, Shelley’s dynamic style and compassion for people are undeniable.

Since 2006, Shelley has been coaching CMAA/CMAC and club industry professionals, supporting them to reach new heights in their careers and in life. Along with her business partner, Kevin MacDonald, they have coached and worked with thousands of industry professionals in their combined 30 years of coaching. Their popular program, The Extraordinary Leader Program, continues to develop leaders at all levels of private clubs and beyond.

After obtaining her business degree at The Ohio State University, Shelley has invested the past 30 years in training and leading others. Fifteen years of experience inside the private club and hospitality industries equipped her to venture out to connect with organizations from a different perspective. As a coach, Shelley’s passion is developing leaders and creating cultures of elevated service. You can find more about her work at

Shelley believes that “Success is on the Inside”! She is committed to Elevating Lives and Organizations… Every Connection, Every Conversation, Every Day.

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