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

Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.