7 Common Energy and Time Wasters for Leaders


Wasting time and energy may be one of my biggest pet peeves as a leader. Some days I leave work and feel I never got off the treadmill. It’s physically and mentally draining.

Does that ever happen to you?

I firmly believe if we get rid of common energy wasters we can dramatically improve our performance as leaders. With that in mind, I’ve spent time in my personal development finding ways to eliminate time and energy wasters.

Here are 7 common wastes of energy in leadership:

Focussing attention on the naysayers – I have found that worrying over what the critics are saying, especially the ones I will never make happy, delays progress and takes time from and frustrates the positive people who believe in the vision and are ready to move forward.

Refusing to delegate – When I make every decision, or become too controlling as a leader, I rob myself and the team of valuable energy and talent and I feel overwhelmed more quickly.

Second guessing decisions – I find it is better to work to make better decisions moving forward rather than live in a pity party of bad ones already made.

Trying to have all the ideas – Many leaders feel they have to be the originator of all the creative energy of a team. They waste time brainstorming alone rather than expanding the creative process. Consequently, the best ideas often never surface. Original thoughts, better than ours, are usually in the room or the organization if we will welcome them to the table and it preserves my time for more efficient use.

Living with broken structure – Let’s face reality. Over time, rules take on a life of their own. What was once created to improve structure actually begins to slow progress and waste valuable time. Change the rules…or even drop them… and you often free up valuable space for people to breathe and enjoy their work.

Disorganization – Need I expand? Many leaders feel overwhelmed because they don’t have good organizational skills. Learning how to better handle routine tasks such as processing emails, calendaring, and scheduling work flow each week will drastically improve time efficiency.

Completing tasks not designed for me – This could be any number of things. Even reading a book. For example, perhaps a silly example, but I have discovered that sometimes I read too much. That sounds strange…I know…but really it’s because I read things I didn’t need to read. I start a book and within the first chapter I know it’s not helpful or even enjoyable…my sense of completion wants to finish. but, better is to put it aside and pick up another book. The novel length email…I try to determine first if I’m the one who should respond. Many times I’m not. It could be attending a meeting…or supervising a project. Whatever it is that I am not the best person for the job or it is just a time waster, the sooner I stop it or hand off the task, the more energy I preserve.

What energy wasters have you seen in leadership?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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29 thoughts on “7 Common Energy and Time Wasters for Leaders

  1. Ron – Could you please write a separate blog someday addressing in more detail some practical tips on how you deal with #5 Disorganization. I'm not Pastor, but I feel like these things are still killing me everyday. I feel like I have pretty good organizational skills (I can find a report from 5 years ago in a flash, whereas my co-workers won't even bother trying because they know its hopeless). I use all the tools (Drag that E-mail to my Calendar and poof its an appointment with reminder). I'm learning to manage the huge mass of Email I get daily better too (e.g. delete some E-mails without opening them based on the subject line alone, Don't leave emails in my Inbox that I now I'll never get around to reading – just move it to a folder, etc.). But i still feel overwhelmed, like these things are kicking my butt, managing by fire drill. Perhaps you could recommend a book on organizational skills.

  2. Very good stuff. As a worship leader amongst other things I have found myself victom to every one of these things. Hopefully your post will help others getting into leadership positions NOT make the mistakes we have done so many times in the past. Peace to you.
    Twitter: ep_lewis

  3. Especially liked – “novel length emails. Decide if I’m the one to respond.”

    I’ve always hated reading those and never thought to choose if I needed to. thanks

  4. Great post. A minute in preparation saves 10 or more in execution. Every minute invested brings great dividends of the most perishable commodity we have…Time. Nobody ever on their last day asks for more tasks. They ask for more time. Thanks for the tips on being proactive with this extremely precious gift.

  5. Great stuff, Ron, thanks for your honest insight. I can use some improvement in each of these seven areas, will use this a a constructive outline and barometer. Embarrassed to admit it, but I often convince myself that I am too busy right now to get organized…but, will do so "soon" (which in the original Greek means "never"). Rats.

    • Ha! I've actually said that about exercise. “I'm too tired to exercise”…yet that's where much of my energy comes from.

  6. Taking up another person’s offense! Being an administrative church secretary who was always slammed with projects and things to get done, this was a trap I needed not to fall into if I wanted to use my time wisely, manage my energy and keep my focus. In the long run you can waste so much energy trying to “stick up” for someone who has been unjustly accused by assumptions, or their character is being defamed by false accusations and you feel the offense and just “need” to make it right, but making it right takes all kinds of time and seems to dig a deeper pit of human condition. If you just settle it in your heart that “God is the Vindicator”, that “GOD KNOWS”, that “God’s Got This”, you can take that phone call and just say: “I don’t agree with you, we will have to agree to disagree on this one, but the cool thing is GOD KNOWS and He’s Got This!” At The Heart Of Every Disagreement, I Had To Remind Myself Of My Real Mission: Matthew 28:19-20 And STAY ON MISSION, because that was my God given mission and the rest He has not assigned me! AWE-GOD!
    Twitter: kmac4him

  7. Ron, I really enjoy this post. Were you categorizing my past mistakes? You stopped me right at #1 because it is all too easy to get sidetracked here. There are always critics, and naysayers, but leaders do address them….and then push right on with the agenda.

    So what's the most important energy and time waster of all? Not learning from your mistakes. That dooms you to repeat them over and over….

  8. It may sound patronizing to say this, but I have found that if I take things one step, one task, at a time, I alieve a good deal of the stress from wasted time and energy. Mostly because I am able to look at these things in a more calm and collected mind frame, and better determine the things I really have no business doing. Many times, I cam delegate, but there are times when I just plain dismiss them!
    Twitter: bryankr