Getting the Right Things Done: Spend Time in, Time on, and Time out

Harbor - Time in, time on, time out

Every leader and executive wants to be getting the right things done. 

Time In is the time you spend actually carrying out the day to day functions of your organizational responsibilities. You are in and absorbed with making it happen in the best manner possible.

Time On is the time you spend working on making your organization or initiative better. You are planning and developing strategy for moving things forward. ‘Time On’ is stepping back from the day to day and looking at the bigger picture, where you want to go and how you are going to go about getting there.

Time Out is what it says; taking time out from the business to relax and renew. It is time to reward hard work and good planning with rest. Funny thing is for most leaders, it is during these times that really good ideas come. Maybe because all the other "stuff" has been left behind for little while, there is room for right perspective and fresh thinking to rise to the surface of the mind. Taking appropriate time out contributes to more and more of getting the right things done.

"Even the world's top entrepreneurs, professionals, educators, and civic leaders get caught up in projects, situations, and opportunities that are merely good, while the great is left out in the cold, waiting for them to make room in their lives. In fact, concentrating on merely the good often prevents the great from showing up, simply because there's no time left in our schedules to take advantage of any additional opportunity."  

Jack Canfield, The Success Principles

Five Days of Coaching on Getting the Right Things Done


Think about your schedule.  What percentage of the time does Time In, Time On and Time Out occupy each week?  Be honest.  Do you consider this allocation balanced?  Healthy?  Effective?  Temporary?  Undesirable? What needs to change?  Huge dividends can be yours by paying attention to this area.  Take lots of time to think about it.  This is quality Time On - time working on your life, business or cause.

The Coach asks:

  • What are your real attitudes toward, and beliefs about, time in, time on, and time out? For yourself? For others? What drives those attitudes and beliefs? 
  • Where do these three "activities" show up in your average week, month or year? How much time is allocated to each? How much time would you like to have each occupy? What accounts for any disparity? 
  • If you'd like to benefit more from the interplay of these three activities, what needs to shift or change? 
  • What insight are you gaining as you think about this? What are you willing to do?  


If it's a priority it might help to schedule it.  Today, schedule Time On.  Put it right on your calendar.  Schedule daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly planning time. Schedule planning retreats both for yourself and your staff.  Make examining the big picture and forward planning a priority.

The Coach asks:

  • Today is about Time On. How have you traditionally gone about planning? How often have you "just let things happen?" How often have you tried to control everything possible? How has this worked for you?  
  • How easy is it for you to "step back," and look at the big picture of what you are doing? In a very practical sense, how often is it helpful to do this? Take a look at your calendar and think about the best times for you to schedule this critical function of leadership. Think about how you will schedule in time daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Get some times and dates on the calendar. 
  • What would you actually do at a time like this? How would you spend this time on, thinking about the big picture and future of your organization or cause?
  • Create a plan for each type of planning time or retreat. How will the hour, the day, or several days actually unfold? What is the desired outcome of each? Who will need to know about it?  What other logistics would be important to think about now?  


Spend today thinking about how you can be more effective in your Time In. Which of the 52 Solutions do you need to implement right away?  Take immediate action.

The Coach asks:

  • We're all used to spending lots of time in our businesses, ministries, companies or causes. We keep getting it done. This is a good time to pause and ask yourself how you can be more productive and effective. Review the 52 Solutions page and identify two or three practices that would further elevate your skills and practices. 
  • Pick one of above practices you have chosen and determine to begin working on it. Give some thought as to how you will start to apply it. Make a start. 
  • Sometimes we are so immersed in the every day, that we fail to allow much time to think how we could actually improve the every day. Give that some further thought now. What structural changes might lead to improvement? What personnel shifts might lead to improvement? How might your own attitudes and actions be limiting improvement? What needs to change there? 


Today is about Time Out.  Either take it or plan it.  Are you spending quality renewal time, not mixed up in any way, shape or form with work? Are you spending time having fun with friends and those you love?  Are you investing in their lives and allowing them to invest in yours?  Make needed changes to your attitude and actions, starting today. Everyone might be surprised and happy about the new you.

The Coach asks:

  • How good are you are taking time out (off)? Weekends? Holidays? Would you consider yourself a "refreshed" leader, or is life all about your work? How often DO you relax? How relaxed is it? How relaxed would you like it to be? How does your taking time to renew contribute to getting the right things done?
  • How would your family (or close friends) appreciate seeing you behave in this area of renewing, refreshing and reinvigorating? What is their concern for you? Do they have a point? 
  • How do you allow your family and friends to invest in your life? How do you invest in their lives? What would you like more (or less) of? 
  • What are you willing to do about time out? Some leaders say they get refreshed by their work. Maybe, maybe not. It might be that if you take a step toward relaxation you will find new energy and fresh insights and ideas come more often. 


Celebrate being a changed leader.  Congratulate yourself for making some of the most essential changes any leader can make.  Lock in the work you've done this week as habit.  It is going to change your life, your work and your leadership.

The Coach asks:

  • What has most impressed you as important through this week of getting the right things done through the use of time in, time on, and time out? 
  • What have you determined to actually do? What have you already applied? What adjustments might help? 
  • What does "celebrate being a changed leader" mean to you? Pick a good way to celebrate, and do it.

Spiritual Reflection for Christian Leaders

Gary Wood Christian Executive Leadership Coach

As a Christian Executive Leadership Coach I encourage Christian leaders to reflect on God's Word to add to their wisdom.

Time On

  • Lk 14:28  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate ... For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, "This person began to build and was't able to finish."
  • Ps 143:8  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
  • Ac 2:23  This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge ..

Time In

  • Ecc 9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might ..
  • Col 3:23  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you now that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
  • Pr 12:11  Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Time Out

  • Ps 23:1-3  The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
  • Mt 11:29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 
  • Mt 6:31  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 
  • Ps 127:2  In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.

If you are a leader, executive, or senior level professional looking to work with a Christian Executive Coach, I invite you to connect with me here.

If appropriate, we can meet by phone or Zoom to discuss your situation.

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


If we as leaders can remain focused and balanced putting these three directives into action at the best times, we will keep getting the right things done. 

We'll have that time dedicated to each of the three that makes for good success.

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