Archives For Productivity

Man Sleeping

Sleep is a funny thing. We all need it. Yet many love to talk about how little they need. It’s as if you win some sort of medal for needing so little. Sort of like being busy. No one wants to admit a lack of busyness.

Somehow needing as little as five hours of sleep a night raises one’s value.

Or does it?

Growing up I was not allowed to sleep in. It was a huge sin to sleep until 7am. Fortunately for me I was always an early riser. Add in working in construction since the age of 16 and I was up at 4:30 or 5.  That just meant I had to go to bed earlier. As I age I still love to get up early, but I still need a good night’s sleep.

Yet the stigma of needing 7, 8, or even 9 hours of sleep still exists. Perhaps it’s time to shed that line of thinking.

Great athletes like Tom Brady goes to bed regularly at 9pm. Now stop and think about that. Sounds a little extreme. Yet Brady who has attained the highest level of an NFL quarterback wants to play as long as possible. His health routines are legendary. And today at the age of 39 he is arguably playing his best football ever. That is unheard of.

While his sleep routine is not the only part of what he does, it is an important component. One that many of us routinely overlook and devalue.

Jesus also valued sleep. His disciples even found him taking a nap in the bottom of a boat during a huge storm. You must admit, storms are very conducive to sleep!

The bottom line is we are all different. Most of us will need anywhere from 6-9 hours of sleep.

Sleep matters. It affects your productivity. And you can tell. Even if you wouldn’t admit it.

Are you getting enough sleep?

How do you feel during the day?

Maybe it’s time to get a good night’s sleep. And not feel guilty, but better!

get things doneIn my last post I mentioned eight things that get in the way of our productivity. We are constantly bombarded by them, at least I am.

So what’s the solution?

Let me list eight antidotes to the eight hindrances.

As a review I will list the hindrance followed by the antidote.

  1. Perfectionism – Ship it. That is if I am writing something I have to eventually hit the save button for the last time. In a sense we are never fully ready, but in reality we simply can’t keep trying for perfection. So whether you are painting, writing, or studying for a test you will need to tell yourself, “I’m done.” Go take the test, finish the painting, or ship the product.
  2. Pain – Saturate your mind with Old Testament stories and other Scripture. In fact, in the Psalms you can find every human emotion. In the various stories you will be encouraged as you see God show up, knowing that He can do something similar for you.
  3. Procrastination – Start eating the elephant. Yes, it’s true. You can eat an elephant one bite at a time, although I cannot prove it. But you do have to start. Right now if you have been putting something off, take a break and go start. Only if you work at it for five minutes. Do it for a week. You may be surprised.
  4. Play – Schedule it at a different time, not during your work time. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun at work.
  5. Pressure – Scratch something off your list. For me that often means put the book back on the shelf. To add that to my to do list is unrealistic. If I don’t force myself to take stuff off my desk, it just adds to the pressure, which in turn slows me down.
  6. Pace – Savor the point at life you are currently at. You may be in a fast pace or a slow pace. Small kids will change your pace more than teenagers. Savor where you are right now. As I mentioned I follow a particular pace when developing a message. The temptation is not enjoy it as much as I should.
  7. Process – Sit down and do it. Before I wrote this post there were other things that distracted me. Once again, I tend to follow the same routine every morning. I put the dogs outside for a few minutes and grab a cup of coffee.Then I start out by doing some light reading, then I read the Bible, and then I spend time in prayer. After that I do the other things on my schedule.
  8. Pandemonium – Scale back. Easier said than done. But if we are honest we have brought much of it on ourselves. Today as I write this Carol and I are taking Heather and Savannah to Dulles Airport for their overseas trip. Then we drive to Richmond to watch a play so Carol can see some of her students. Then we come home around midnight. The point is some things you can’t take off your list, but there are some things.

Eight things that get in the way. The good news is there will always be unproductive days. I say good news because that is life. Why feel bad? You simply cannot allow that to destroy you. However, you can have better days. But you must be proactive.

What’s the biggest thing in the way of your own productivity?

Why not tackle that one first.

You’ll feel much better. After all, who wants to end the day feeling unproductive?

get things doneWho hasn’t struggled with productivity? All of us want to be more productive.

Perhaps one of the best places to start is to identify what’s holding you back.

In my own life I have identified eight things that get in the way. Just being able to identify them has proved helpful.

  1. Perfectionism. This shows up when I sit down to type out a message or a blog post. I have to force myself to hit the publish key for the blog to go live. Yes, I could rewrite it, but then I could rewrite it again and it would never go out.
  2. Pain. While physical pain can definitely cramp your productivity, I am thinking more along the lines of emotional pain. It is so widespread and all of us encounter it. And it will slow you down. It has your attention, not the project you are working on.
  3. Procrastination. I wish I could tell you that I never put anything off. But I can’t. Sometimes I just don’t want to jump in and get started. Precious moments are wasted.
  4. Play. To be honest this is not an issue for me, but I have seen it in others. There is nothing wrong with having some play time, but once again, there is a time and a place to play.
  5. Pressure. Deadlines, projects, outside pressures, and even things coming up can distract you and cut into your productivity.
  6. Pace. It’s not unusual for me to use thirty resources when putting together a message. If I don’t properly pace myself, or if I get sidetracked into another resource, then I’ll have to hurry at some point which means that I may not be able to consult a very helpful resource. All because my pace was wrong.
  7. Process. When it comes to writing many times I have to force myself to just sit and write or type. If I try and edit at the same time then I lose some valuable thoughts and it slows me down. The process is something that I face every day.
  8. Pandemonium. Chaos and Clutter. Guilty on both counts. Both include multiple things. It may be numerous things on my to do list, too many obligations, too many conflicting opportunities, and too many things on my work desk.

Just looking at these eight things may help you realize how easy it is to be less productive. These things seem to be ubiquitous. You are always fighting them.

So what’s the plan to overcome these hindrances? That’s coming in the next post.

performance level conceptual meterAs the New Year begins, the subject of productivity becomes a popular theme.

After all, this is the year that your productivity is going to reach new heights. It will be your most productive year ever!

And so the guilt trip begins. “I’m not being as productive as I could be.”

So we cut some downtime and fill it with more productive tasks. We take less breaks during the day so we can be more productive.

We’re convinced that if we just upped our intensity longer we could be more productive.

But is that really true?

And are we all the same?

Is it a sign of laziness to schedule downtime to refresh ourselves mentally and renew ourselves physically?

In the football world it’s well established that defenses get tired if they are on the field too long during the game. Actually they become less productive.

So before you give into the productivity guilt complex and rush into a new high performance program, make sure you allow for and schedule some necessary downtime.

Yes, you may feel a little guilty, but you will be more productive!

 

iStock_000007680150XSmallEvery week I have the opportunity to play basketball with guys much younger than I.  Because I have played sports since I was a kid, there has always been some competitiveness inside of me.

As I get older I often tell Carol that I when I can no longer keep up on the court I will hang up my basketball shoes.  Now that will be a tough day. Right now my goal is to be able to play until I’m sixty. Keep in mind most of the guys I play with are in their late twenties or thirties.

Fortunately for me I was blessed with some speed in the game.  Actually it was speed not skill that often kept me on a team.

But the reality is as I age I will slow down.  And when the day comes that I can no longer keep up, I will stop playing.

Now think how uncomfortable that is.  How often does someone in the workplace approach their boss and admit that they are not keeping up? How hard is it to approach someone and tell them they are no longer keeping up?  I still recall the days in steel erection where some guys just could not keep up, and we had to let them go.

One day you and I will leave our jobs.  One day I will have to quit playing basketball.  One day you and I will have to stop driving our cars.

Those will be tough days.  But they are coming.  And yes, it will continue to be one of life’s most difficult questions.

Am I still able to keep up?

ColdSprayIs there a cure for the common cold? Well, not exactly. But we all wish there was. And there are some things you can do to prevent from getting one. If you don’t do those things, you are likely to get a cold. When do colds tend to hit you? At the worst possible time.

While Carol and I were in Rome, just before we were to come home, I came down with the dreaded common cold. Thankfully it was not as bad as it could have been and did not interfere with the things we wanted to do. However, I still wanted to be prepared in case it got bad, so I went to a local pharmacy and picked up some nasal spray. Fortunately, they had one bottle written in English so I knew what I was getting.

When I’m at home, my game plan for curing the common cold is to not get one in the first place.

Not long ago my son Gabe came down with a cold. Now, everyone in our house knows I get paranoid when someone gets a cold.  Actually, they would say that paranoid is an understatement.

After all, I have to speak every Sunday and I want to be at my best. Plus, I just don’t like colds.

So in my typical fanatical fashion, I questioned everyone to check up on how often they were washing their hands.  And I monitored what they were touching.  I don’t even touch door knobs when this kind of thing hits our house!

To top it off, Gabe was banned from using my iPad.  Yes, I go a little over the top. But, hey, I don’t get very many colds.

Sadly, most of us are not very fanatical about things that contaminate our marriages, our health, or our finances.

We could sit down and come up with a long list of things that destroy us and our relationships or our physical health.

Things like sugar, but who wants to cut down on sugar?  And no one is touting it as a great food source.

I can’t believe how many marriages have been affected by an unhealthy overdose of sports.  For many, sports is contaminating their relationships.

My spiritual walk with God can be contaminated by busyness, overcommitment, bad attitudes, and irresponsibility.

We could go on, but you get the point.  Go radical on contamination. We allow way too many things into our lives that should not be allowed.

And don’t forget that even good things can contaminate.  It could be a person, a food group, or a thing.

The bottom line is this:  Are you taking contamination seriously?