Many times as church leaders or leaders in general sense, we find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster of results. We tend to be so numbers focused (attendance, finances) that we simply get stuck in the comparison of week-to-week results. After several months of dealing with the ups and downs of this tracking, we lose sight of other wins, and as a result we are stagnant as leaders.
So,change the metrics of a win! Instead of making the numbers the win or loss, take a month to focus on building repair, media upgrades, new volunteers, or maybe even a Sunday when all the words on the screens are correct! This change of metrics could be exactly what you need so that you can see beyond the things that can result in a mundane, week-to-week existence.
I am a systems guy, and maybe even to a fault. However, a good productivity system will help you to keep being productive even when you don’t feel like it. There are several popular ones, such as David Allen’s “Getting Things Done (GTD)" and Scott Belsky’s “Making Ideas Happen (Action Method)." While these are very good, the key to a good productivity system is that it works for you. I know that sounds obvious, but I have seen many people try to plug and play a productivity system without making some tweaks for their individual needs or wiring.
Choose a system, make the adjustments, and then stick with it even on those “down" days where you just don’t feel like doing anything. The system will help jump-start your day!
Ending the day with preparation is sometimes the best way to start the next day strong. A tip to get you going is to take the last 15-30 minutes of your day to prepare for tomorrow. What meetings do you have? What projects must be finished? What phone calls will need to be made? By preparing the day before, you will have an idea of what you are walking into the next day.
Often I find leaders that fail to prepare the day before walk into the office and, failing to realize how much had to get done, go into a paralysis that kills productivity. Taking time at the end of the day to get ready for the next day will keep you focused the next.
Find Your Rhythm or Sweet Spot
Some people are morning people, and others do not need any human interaction until after 10:00 AM. Many times the morning people struggle in the afternoons, and late-risers grapple to get any traction in the mornings. After all, it’s in their DNA. However, just because you are one of these types does not mean you cannot produce a full day’s progress.
Find your rhythm or sweet spot. For example, I am a massive morning person when it comes to creativity. I am lucky to put a fully original sentence together after lunch. So for me, any creative writing or meetings must be in the mornings. After lunch I focus on tasks that are more administrative, the ones that are black and white and require no deep thought.
Don’t fight who you are. Simply embrace it and leverage it at the right times to get what needs to get done completed.
The Big 5
Leaders of organizations are never “done" with their work. There’s always more strategic planning, sermons to write, things to evaluate, books to read, or a host of other things. Often the number of things can simply overwhelm us.
The night before or the first thing in the morning, I prioritize the five big things that must get done each day. If I finish those five, I will simply go to my productivity system to find the next five. By only looking at five things at a time, the enormous list of tasks will not cause the deer in headlights look that slows us down.
Take a Break!
There used to be a time when leaders boasted, “I have been working for 10 hours straight!" I fully understand that there are certain days that it is possible for someone to sit and work for long periods of time and maintain a level of excellence. However, these are usually anomalies and not the standard. Prolonged periods of “break-less" work will generally produce diminished results. Being “in the zone" is one thing, but for most people breaks should not be a sign of weakness, but one of self-realization.
Get up, get the blood flowing, walk around the office and say hello to people. Do something that gets your mind off the subject at hand. I watch helplessly as leaders sit and sit, stuck, and can’t keep motivated. Taking a few minutes to get away could be the very catalyst to get you going!
Change Up the Routine
While productivity systems can keep things flowing, sometimes a simple change of the norm can muster up new motivation and keep things moving. Maybe put off emails until later in the morning. Start off the day with a little motivational reading instead of “getting at it." Move things around. Schedule a meeting in the afternoon instead of morning. This includes a change in geography. If possible, take a day to work outside the confines of the office. The new scenery, smells, or sounds cause the brain to fire in a different way, which could help get the productivity juices revved going. Changing things up a little might just be what the doctor ordered.