Saturday, June 22, 2013

Routine vs. Rhythm

Q: I get this question asked a lot ,"How do you get so much accomplished and stay so focused?"
A: Routines are deadly while a rhythm is necessary for growth as a leader. 

The people (including this guy) who face constant burn out are those who have a routine but no rhythm. This means their routine is a habitual problem that puts them in the direct line of burnout. 

A routine can be very deadly. For instance, your routine could be that you: 
•take on every task as it comes. 
•don't say no to opportunities or needs. 
•leave work late every day because you can't say no. 
•allow other people or co-worker's lack of planning put you in a tough spot. 
•don't schedule meetings properly or schedule too many. 
•allow people to back you in a corner by needing it "right now." They need to learn to plan as well. 
•have no daily and weekly task, meeting and emergency schedule.

And the main reason is you don't have a rhythm. Lets be honest: your routine of spontaneity, haphazard planning, lack of foresight and inability to say no is taking its toll on you. 

2013 was the year I had to move from an unhealthy routine of the hamster wheel to a healthy rhythm. 

A rhythm means that you establish certain tasks on certain days, live by a calendar, protect your personal time and refuse to be spread thin. 

A rhythm looks like this: 
•certain tasks HAVE to be scheduled and completed weekly. I will even say, "I am in a meeting." It's that serious. I am meeting with that task. 
•schedule personal devotion time and exercise. Being physically unhealthy is the result of a routine as well. 
•Plan time in each day for "surprise" or emergency tasks. They will happen. Stop being surprised.
•live by a schedule. This means you can't stay on the phone as long as you want or surf the Internet all day. There are times when I can't take calls because I have scheduled "meetings" with critical tasks. 
•if it's important they will leave a message. Schedule times to return calls and emails. 
•have downtime EVERY DAY. Don't be so consumed with work that it's a you do or think about. 

Here is the easy way to do this. Plan your week around the big tasks that have to happen that week and every week. 
I write my Sunday message on Monday. Why? The media team needs it and I don't want them to be pressured late and I want that monkey off my back. I have 4 major tasks everyday that have to be accomplished. I work through those first and then go to "surprise" tasks that come in via email or call. The schedule dictates my time, not feelings or other people. 

Take time this week to set up a RHYTHM. Remember, don't complain because you are the master of your schedule. If you live in a rhythm then others will have to adjust their routines to your rhythm. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thoughts on Burn Out

As a leader who desires to start a movement in your church or organization there is a hidden enemy called, "Burnout."
I remember in 2007 sitting with Coach John (Chasteen), Dean of Southwestern Christian University, at an Applebees in South Carolina and he explained burnout to a friend and I on a napkin. He drew the picture of a linear graph and showed the signs and procession of burnout. He also shared his dramatic experience with this. He even stated that once you burnout you never get fully back to that place of energy again. 

Even with all this information I burned out in the summer of 2011. There were TONS of external issues that helped contribute to it, but the main factor is that I allowed myself to burnout. 

The key is that we often think that if we had a different scenario we would not burn out. We get into the "when-then" mentality. The view that burnout is an external issue is the problem. The reason one lets burnout happen is just that- they let it happen. 

Here are a few thought on stress....
1. Know the Signs: Anger/Frustration. Lack of joy in hobbies that once seemed fun. Marriage or close relationships suffer. Depression. Lack of motivation. Physically tired all the time. Withdrawal. Constant ideas on how to escape or quit.

2. Know the Reasons (personally): Stress comes because of being overwhelmed. This can come because of personal high expectations or meeting other's approval. This may come from conflict or tasks that seem overwhelming. 
Know what burns you out personally. 

3. Act Immediately: The moment you think you are burning out- act. You are the master of your life. Don't act as a victim. That's what got you burned out in the first place. Take some time. Explain to your wife, leaders or denomination that you need a few days off. Begin to seek God fresh once again.

4. Set up Boundaries: Weekly have a time of personal refreshing. You need to do this spiritually and recreationally. Guard your time carefully. Have a way or ways to "dump" stress. As a dump truck gets loaded, so do you. It doesn't stay loaded however. It's called a "dump" truck. Take an inventory of the things you are doing to dump stress. Make them happen.
Learn to REST! God rested on the 7th day not because He was tired but because He made a model for us. Perry Noble recently said, "If you don't work people may call you lazy, but if you don't rest God calls you disobedient." 

Do you find ministry frustrating?
Have you lost joy and peace, internally?
Are you fatigued and lack motivation?
Are your sleep patterns changing?
Do you dream of doing something else (fantasizing)?
Have you lost gratefulness?

Talk to someone today. Be open, vulnerable and honest. Take some time away. Rest and recharge. Most importantly, let God speak to you about your situation. You were never mean to carry that stress.