Monday, June 30, 2014
Productivity Tips. . .
6 Tips to Being More Productive:
Manage Your Mood
Don’t Check Email in The Morning
Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All
Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions
Have A Personal System
Define Your Goals The Night Before
Manage your mood. It is easy for me. I tend to be a morning person -- waking up each day about 4:50 am. I like to start quietly -- a few chores on my way to the kitchen and Greek yogurt, Honey Nut Cheerios, and coffee. Most days I am pretty content to begin the day. It is not necessarily something I do to prepare myself but there is something to the idea that you choose your mood more than events and people choose or change it for you.
Once I had my email constantly going on a second monitor of my office computer system. I have five email accounts. Now I check the one that gets "subscription" kinds of stuff once a month or maybe twice. And progressing up to twice a day for the account I use the most. I agree. Email can be a terrible slave and it is a great opportunity to be a jerk. Take it easy here (a lesson I learned the hard way).
Faster is not quicker. I have learned to do things when I can and am moved to do them. I cannot schedule creativity and I cannot tackle heavy reading when I am weary. So it means that I do things when I am ready to do them but I do give myself time to make sure I am ahead of the deadline.
Distractions -- remember the movie UP and the dog and squirrels? We are easily distracted -- especially when we don't want to do what we think we must. Distractions are unavoidable for a Pastor -- but there comes a time when you realize that distractions are a problem because you really do not want to do what is on your schedule -- that is the time to deal with them. By the way, I am alone in the office from 6 am to 8 am and this is generally the most productive time of my day -- minimal distractions and a fresh mindset! Works wonders -- really, it does.
Have a system. For years I struggled to adapt to personal systems created by others. It ever worked. I kept up with them for a while and then not only ditched them but got lost in what I had done, needed to do, and did not need to do. I have a system -- sometimes no more than a schedule -- for tackling the things that I must do regularly so that I get them done and am ready when the surprise of life happens in the middle of my well planned out day.
Define your goals -- ahead of time! One of the first things I do about 6:30 am, after my devotions and prayer, is figure out what is on my plate, what must be done, what must be done right now, and what can be delayed. For example, Mondays I NEVER schedule appointments -- it is my day to deal with all the messes of the weekend, the tidbits of information found out on Sunday, and the aftermath of many meetings (most often held on Sundays after worship in this congregation).
I will tell you what helps me most of all is experience. The reason I find this aspect of my life and ministry easier is that I have come to know and expect -- sometimes anticipate -- the things that normally govern a Pastor's week and it helps when you know what is or might come up. I am NOT saying I am on top of everything but I have minimized the number of immobilizing crises to a few. For this reason, I would not want to start all over again at ordination and try to figure out for the first time what I have learned over repeated experiences over many years. The sage part of wisdom is often that you have been through it before -- not something the wise can take credit for at all but the Spirit at work in our lives teaching us. I thank God for that aspect of age even as I sometimes lament that it took so long to learn the easy stuff.
Let me add one more point to the author's -- take your ministry seriously but not yourself. In other words, do not treat lightly the calling to preach, teach, baptize, absolve, commune, visit, counsel, advise, and pray. Do take yourself lightly -- it is always of great comfort that God could use Balaam's ass and so He can use me, in spite of my faults, foibles, and failings. I do not worry much about people not honoring me but I am jealous for the office of the ministry. I do not worry much about what people say about me but I take very seriously what they say about God's work in us, among us, and through us. The Church is not mine and I do not own it. I steward it for a while and, God willing, I will pass it on to another after having been as faithful as human frailty allows during my own tenure as undershepherd. I am content about that and know that the greatest hindrance to my work for the Lord may be my own uninhibited self. Therefore any good Pastor knows the value of self-control --- at little self-deprecating humor does not hurt either.