Time Management: Learning to Wait With Excellence

picture of an old kitchenWe’ve been working on getting our kitchen renovated since the first of the year. We’ve made tons of decisions. The cabinets arrived last week. Then, the County ate our permit application and the project was delayed, one, two, three grueling days. It begins today—four days late. After waiting nearly eleven months, you would think waiting another four days would be easy. It’s been more consuming than I care to admit.

It’s often hard to get started on significant projects. And, no matter what the project, whether construction, income development, or relationship growing, starting brings interruptions, delays, confusion, and challenges. Consider the grant proposal process. Inevitably, 48 hours from the deadline something breaks, someone drops out, or more heartening but still challenging, someone has an idea that will make the application killer. Engaging a new board member can likewise be an exercise in preparations that dim enthusiasm and make us question proceeding. Likewise, starting a new income effort, especially individual donations can be filled with false starts, slow returns, and require much faith to keep proceeding.

What professional lessons can you take from this type of waiting time?


1. Recognize Your Myopia.

The nearness of the goal changed my perspective. Just as a detour 100 miles from a destination calls for a new plan, one within a mile causes anxiety if arrival at the destination is possible. Don’t let your imagination make the bumps and detours loom larger than their true size.

2. Stay in Your Control Zone.

No matter what you goal, there are always activities that need attention. In our case, we do still need to decide several things to complete the kitchen, such as choose a sink. You can continue to nurture other board relationships while this one takes its turns and spins. Direct your energy to areas you control.

3. Keep Perspective.

Remaining in a state of readiness requires energy. Recognize it. Lean into it. Then, select a mental state of possibility. You’re closing in our your goal. All these delays—they’re all good—somehow (i.e., inspiring this post.)

Trucks roar in the background. The contractors arrive!

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.