Have you ever read a book because someone you love and admire recommended it? When that someone you love and admire orders it in front of you, on his phone, through Amazon Prime, while shaking his head, with a grin on his face? The book did arrive two days later and because I love and admire #1 Son, I read The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Kenneth Blanchard, William Oncken, Jr., and Hal Burrows. The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey was required reading for a supervisory course for #1 Son. He’s read the thing three times. He recommended it to me because, evidently, I am a classic Monkey-Picker-Upper.

An example of a Monkey-Picker-Upper: Kid comes home from school and says he wants to play hockey with his buddy. Mom takes that Monkey (the next step is to prepare the kid to play hockey) and adjusts the family schedule for all the practices and games, runs all over town securing all the equipment, fills out the paperwork, fills the cooler with snacks and drinks, fills up the van with gas, writes the check for the season. All the kid has to do is show up.

A Monkey-Picker-Upper is someone who picks up the ‘next steps’ or ‘action steps’ for others…aka ‘the Monkey.’ A Monkey-Picker-Upper is someone who feels responsible for other’s ‘dropping the ball.’ A Monkey-Picker-Upper is one who champions their own duties and concerns, as well as the those of the team.  A Monkey-Picker-Upper may be one who is a detail person who partners with a vision person. A Monkey-Picker-Upper feels their calendar and time is easily highjacked for another’s cause. A Monkey-Picker-Upper is typically exhausted and dreams less because they are running around reacting to problems created by others with very little time, if any, ‘to create and innovate and initiate’ on their own. That’s the line that stopped me in my tracks.

Serving on a local church staff team, I found the last part of the book incredibly enlightening. It has to do with managing organizational time. Time for me, also means ‘taking up space in your head.’ The writers share there are three kinds of organizational time:

1. Boss-imposed time – “Keeping bosses satisfied takes time, but dealing with dissatisfied ones take even more time.” (pg 113). As Christians, we submit to the authority over us. It takes time to keep the boss informed, to protect him/her from embarrassing surprises, to anticipate how he/she wants things handled, to build a record of success so he/she feels more comfortable giving me more autonomy, and so on.” (pg 115) Be sure to take the time so he/she knows you can be trusted. Ask the question, “What’s the best way to keep you informed?” Then do it.

2. System-imposed time – Time spent on the administrative and “related demands from people (peers/associates) other than our bosses and our own staffs’ demands that are part of every organization.” (pg 116) This is where relationships come in and learning the organization’s system’s requirements. “We can’t manage without the support of these people, and we need them more than they need us. So, in order to survive within the organization, we have to conform to the red-tape requirements of the system.” (pg 118) Be sure to make the Christmas party, join in on the office lunches, bring some cookies or biscuits to the ones who manage and run the system. Learn the movers and shakers, the hands and feet, and love on them well by listening and being fully present.

3. Self-imposed time – The time I spend doing what I decide to do – aka, discretionary time. “Self-imposed time is the most important of the three types of time because that’s the only time in which we have discretion to express our own individuality with an organization. It is only with self-imposed time that we make our own unique contribution to an organization.” (pg 119)

So, what will it take for you to be able to pursue more discretionary time? This I know: I have been the Monkey-Picker-Upper for a staff team. It’s exhausting and not the best God has for us nor for the organization. It’s incredibly difficult to break the habit of picking up other’s Monkeys, because the Monkey-Picker-Upper desires to present the very best to the One and Only who has called us to serve with gifts and graces and vision and energy. “Although discretionary time is the most vital time of all, it is, unfortunately, the first to disappear when the pressure is on.” How will you manage your organizational time this week?

“If all I do is tasks, I leave a ton of value on the table for creating and initiation of doing things better.” – Seth Godin