The 1,440 minutes in each day disappear quickly.
Let’s say you spend 480 of those minutes asleep and another 480 at work. That leaves one more chunk of 480 minutes — eight hours — for meals, commuting, after-school activities, exercise, chores, errands and perhaps some relaxation time.
So where does Scouting fit in? We asked some highly effective Scouting leaders for their best tips to do more, faster, while staying energized and happy.
Stoke Your Passion
Alaina Jackson of Kalamazoo, Mich., sells cars 10 hours a day, six days a week. She also volunteers with two Scouts BSA troops — one for boys and one for girls. On top of that, she is her district’s finance chair, a unit commissioner and a council fundraising chair.
“Sometimes it’s all Scouting, all the time. And that’s OK,” Jackson says. “To help my son learn and help countless other kids is incredible.”
Kevin Kruse, New York Times best-selling author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, says Jackson’s passion is the key.
“It’s not about time,” Kruse says. “It’s about energy. If you’re passionate, you’ve got a furnace inside. So instead of taking a 15-minute nap, that passion and energy for Scouting will power you to use that 15 minutes toward your goals.”
Rob and Leah Barry agree. Heavily involved in Maine’s Pine Tree Council and working full-time jobs, they love seeing Scouts advance.
“I knew these kids when they were shy first- and second-graders with toothless grins and Pinewood Derby cars finishing in first place,” Rob says. “Now they’re out in the woods as Scouts using axes and saws and ranking up and talking like young adults. We’re watching personal growth — not just in our own kids, but with others that have become part of our family.”
When Alice-Ann Shiflet’s husband died five years ago, no one would have blamed her if she had quit the program. Instead, she started Pack 23 and all-girl Pack 35 in Bartlesville, Okla. Now a Scout leader and district commissioner with three part-time jobs, her passion comes from small but heartfelt moments.
Like the time a father approached her with a pained look on his face to talk about skits.
“My son can’t get up in front of people,” he said. “He doesn’t have it in him.”
After several meetings that built the boy’s confidence, he led his den in a skit a few months later.
“His dad was across from me, and our eyes caught,” Shiflet says. “And he said, ‘Thank you.’ And it made me cry, because I saw what it did for this little boy.”
Torpedo Your To-Do List
To-do lists do more harm than good, says Kruse.
“I interviewed 300 self-made millionaires, billionaires, Olympic athletes and straight-A students,” he says. “None of them use to-do lists.”
In fact, 40% of tasks on lists don’t get addressed.
“The list just gets longer and causes insomnia and stress,” he says.
Instead, budget your time. Scouter Dominic Femino works 60-80 hours a week as an orthopedic oncology surgeon. He estimates he spends between five and 20 hours a week volunteering with Troop 5 of Pasadena, Calif.
“Our troop is very good at scheduling our long-term calendar,” he says. “I set my schedule 18 months out, then fit in other things around it.”
To stay on course, he chooses and prioritizes goals, and then schedules into his calendar each step toward that goal.
Choose the Times to Say ‘No’
Learn to say “no,” because sometimes the good opportunities kill the great ones.
“Every time you say ‘yes,’ you’re saying ‘no’ to something else,” Kruse says.
Setting fewer goals builds focus.
“Scouting’s always there for me,” says Jackson. “I’m always thinking, what can I do to make my next project awesome? How do I make it real? How do I get it on paper?”
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, tells readers to visualize a big, heavy flywheel.
“Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward,” he says.
Soon, that big wheel rotates faster until you have a breakthrough, and the thing achieves unstoppable momentum. Too many extra tasks slow you down, preventing your Scouting flywheel from moving forward.
Master Time With Tech
Jackson uses Google Drive, Scoutbook and other tech to tame her time.
If Jackson is waiting at the doctor’s office, she uses her phone to answer emails, take a call or check in on Scoutbook, the BSA’s unit management tool.
But her favorite tech tool is one we all use every day: Google.
“It’s the single greatest thing that ever happened to a Scout leader,” she says. “People spend a lot of time thinking, ‘How do I do this?’ Google it. Someone has done it before you. I don’t drive myself crazy asking 47 people and wasting a bunch of time.”
Reuse and Repurpose
Bonny and Randy Jennings have a 40-plus-year Scouting history. With busy professional careers, they’ve held more than 20 high-level positions apiece in the Idaho-based Grand Teton Council.
All that Scouting service means they’ve accumulated a mountain of supplies.
“If we do an activity, we save supplies for it in a bin,” Bonny says. “At the end of the event, we restock the bin and store it, labeled, so it’s ready for next year.”
For a banquet, they’ll keep printed instructions, tablecloths, food trays, decorations and other gear.
“If we come home from work with 30 minutes to get ready, we’re all set,” she says.
Make Heavy Work Lighter
If you’re a den leader, why not recruit a different parent to help you run each meeting?
Shiflet builds on that by stressing the importance of finding the right helpers.
“I wasn’t a good delegator, because nobody did it the way I wanted,” she says.
Then she met Diana Wise at the Cherokee Council Scout Shop.
“She’s a godsend,” Shiflet says. “I can email her in the middle of the night and know she’ll get it done the way I would.”
Finding the Diana Wises of the world comes down to relationships.
“You build a friendship and establish trust,” Shiflet says. “You know what they’re capable of and you trust they’ll do it right.”
Make it a Family Thing
The family that Scouts together saves time together.
“There’s a lot of Scouting conversation in our house,” says Rob Barry of Maine. “Leah and I bounce ideas off each other, and the kids help out.”
Bonny and Randy Jennings do the same.
“We like to work together quite a bit,” Randy says. “If I have an assignment and she’s at the store, she’ll grab what I need. When our kids were young, they’d help, too, so we weren’t separated all the time.”
For Bonny, that cooperation makes it work.
“Without a supportive spouse, I could never do it all,” she says.
However you make it work, always keep your priorities in mind.
“If you want to make a difference in a child’s life,” Shiflet says, “Scouting is the perfect way to go. You know, my son is No. 1, and everything else can follow him.”
When Passion Wanes
When apathy strikes, Scouting time-masters strike back. Many have rekindled their Scouting spirit at Wood Badge, the BSA’s leadership training course for adult volunteers.
“I lost my passion a couple years ago,” says Alaina Jackson of Kalamazoo, Mich. “So I took Wood Badge. It renewed my energy and reminded me why I do all this.”
Wood Badge had a similar impact on Dominic Femino, a surgeon from Pasadena, Calif.
“My Wood Badge teacher showed me that the skills and values these kids gain will carry them for the rest of their lives,” he says. “That has just as big an impact on a life as helping patients through their cancer treatment.”
To experience the life-changing power of Wood Badge for yourself, contact your local council.