The phrase ‘time-out’ has taken on a whole new meaning as the time-out has become the preferred form of disciplining a misbehaving child.

Think about it.

The use of the phrase in the ‘disciplinary’ context has virtually removed it from our minds as a solution to a problem, a statement to be interjected to put a conversation on-hold, and as something we might actually choose to do.

But in reality, there are times when the best possible way to improve personal and organizational effectiveness is by calling a time-out.

And it works just as it is supposed to when used to discipline a child…it gives you a chance to go inside yourself and think, which often allows the solution to your dilemma to emerge quickly and clearly.

Here are just a three examples where calling a ‘time-out’ can be valuable:

When You’re Being Pulled in too Many Different Directions: Sometimes our inability to say no collides head on with our drive to get things done.  The result is that we have more than we can handle on our to do list, and the only way to effectively tackle it is to step back, get some breathing space, and return to it with a renewed focus and clarity.

When You Need Time to Weigh the Options: Though there are many times when the right thing to do is to decide quickly and take action, there are times when you’re better off taking some time to thoroughly evaluate the choices before making the decision.  Closing the door and turning off the phone, scheduling some time out of the office, or even taking a day off to focus on the issue can sometimes shed new light on things and help you make the best choice.

When You Realize that Progress is Not Being Made: Whether its in a meeting, working in your office, or any number of other situations, there are times when you realize that no matter what you do, you are not going to make progress pushing things any further at this point in time.  That’s a perfect time to call a ‘time-out’ and walk away for a few minutes (or longer if necessary).  It allows everyone to reframe things and return with fresh eyes on the situation.

These are no doubt many more scenarios that come to mind when you think about this and your role in your credit union.  And while it may not always be possible to call a time-out, or you may not have the authority to do so in certain situations, there are many times when you are in control and can do so, and it is important to remember the power of calling a time-out for you and your team!

ACTION ADVICE: Next time you find yourself in a situation where the best thing you can do at the moment is nothing, consider calling a time-out and gaining the benefits of stepping back and giving the situation time to develop before you act.  Do the same when you are in a meeting that is going nowhere…suggest that everyone take a break, or if the timing is right, call for scheduling a follow-up meeting to return to the subject later.  Recognize and respect the value of getting distance from things and the positive impacts it can provide, and call a time-out when it will improve everyone’s effectiveness!