Archives For Stress

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!

Stress - business woman running lateFor the sake of clarity I want to distinguish between being busy and being in a hurry.

Jesus seemed to always be busy, yet never in a hurry.

What about Moses? If he had been running red lights he would have surely missed the burning bush.

Just those two examples alone seem to indicate that if you are in a hurry you are not fully present.

When you and I (assuming you too have found yourself always in a hurry) are in a hurry we:

* run red lights.

* want others to hurry and finish their story.

* fly around corners on the roads and in the stores.

* don’t have time for others.

* skip our Bible reading and our prayer time.

* miss things, opportunities, and valuable lessons.

* listen less attentively.

* don”t call others when we should.

* fail to carve time out just to think.

* change lines in the store…more than once.

* are obnoxious to others.

You get the point. Hurry needs to go!

No wonder the late Dallas Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

So for the last couple of weeks I have tried, somewhat successfully to do just that.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the ACC Basketball Tournament. That meant that I had to buckle down and attack my upcoming message as I would be gone for three days. When it came time to leave Carol and I did not have to hurry to get there. I had allowed plenty of time.

When it came time to leave early Sunday morning I once again left early enough so I would not have to hurry back. Life is stressful enough. Why hurry and add to it?

Also just the other day I had to go to Lowe’s for two small items. First though I needed to take care of something in the customer service line. The woman in front of me had several items to return and it got complicated. Typically when in a hurry I’m sure I show it. However, I looked at my daughter Heather and said, “Let’s go get the two items and come back.” So we did. No stress. Minutes later there was no one around and we breezed out of the store.

It actually felt good to not be in a hurry.

Have I arrived? Absolutely not.

But I have learned why Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

So that’s the challenge. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

Starting today.

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?