How To Get More Done

By Doing Less

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to find time to unplug? This is what you need to do if you want to accomplish more this year.

For years, I found plenty of time to unplug. Then I discovered that the more time I took for myself, the more tired I got. It also placed a strain on my closest relationships. This one little trick helped me to get back on track.

When it comes to rest, I’ve found that quality is just as important as quantity.

Remember, vocation came before vacation in the bible. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden with the charge to ‘dress’ and ‘keep’ it. Work is a gift and a pleasure. It only became more difficult after they disobeyed God. Yet as difficult as it got, nowhere in scripture do we see God abolishing the command to rest one day a week despite how hectic life gets.

Although I’d heard of the benefits of regular rest, things never really clicked until recent years. It’s counterintuitive, but you can get more done by unplugging regularly. In fact, if you’re not scheduling rest, you’re probably not resting.

God knew what He was doing when He prescribed regular rest in creation. There is day then night. The seventh day is to be a day of rest (not necessarily Sunday, but at least one day). Mealtime is a time of rest. In fact, once every seven years, farmers were to let their fields rest! Yes, even the natural world needs rest. So what do your rhythms of rest look like on a daily, weekly, annual basis?

Imagine having a whole day every week to regroup and resharpen! You can, but it’s going to require faith. The irony is you can accomplish just as much in six days as you can in seven. I realize that makes no sense to some people. I can hear you saying right now “Who’s going to do it all if I don’t?”

So what does a day of rest look like?

If you’re a pastor, I’ve got news for you: Sunday is not your day of rest. That means you need to pick another day of the week to regroup and rest.

Again, maybe you think that if you just do whatever you want, you’ll have a ‘good’ day. But again, remember that quality is just as important as quantity. You could take a year off and be absolutely miserable at the end of it.

So lets talk about variety for a minute. Are you stuck in a rut where every rest day looks the same? We all know the golfer who golfs all summer and then is glad when the summer is over. Thank God there are seasons in the North east. Otherwise, many of us would do the same things all year and reap diminishing returns in the process!

When is the last time you spent a rest day outside? I can already hear some of you protesting because it’s too cold. Not when you’re moving. Ask kids. They just bundle up and go for it, be it ice skating, sledding or building a snow castle in the front yard.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1

That doesn’t mean the outdoors is your primary place of worship. It means that there’s no place you can go and get away from evidence that there is a Creator. As a pastor I talk with people all of the time who say their church is in nature. I love the outdoors! But I love God even more and He designed us to thrive in community!

My son and I are currently working on survival packs to enjoy our times outside even more. Recently he saw someone using military water proof matches and now he wants to find some! Your essentials will include a flashlight or two, a map and two compasses. Two in case you don’t trust the first one.

On top of that, you can add a space blanket, chocolate, a mess kit, sharp knives and a fire starter. You never know when you’ll need them, and you’ll be quite happy to have them if you find yourself needing them. All of these items only weigh three or four pounds.

Once your kit or day bag is complete, you won’t have to go through the motions of preparing it every week.

I also received a Christmas present this year to help me enjoy my time outside even more. It’s a hand warmer and cell phone charger that can be charged with a USB cable just like your cell phone! I don’t currently have one (maybe you have an extra), but a GPS unit is also a great tool to have.

So how do you carve out a day just for yourself? Like everything else, if you don’t plan and schedule it, it’s not going to happen.

It may mean doing dishes and decluttering. You may have to service the car or cut the lawn. You may have to sit and just listen. Even after you do all of that, chances are your day of rest is going to include your family. Successful people know that the secret to having their own needs met is to meet the needs of others.

When it’s all said and done, you may not even end up with a whole day. You may just be able to slip away for a couple of hours. But remember, quality is just as important as quantity.

By now if you’re thinking that when you meet the needs of others, you will instantly have people meet yours, you are wrong! You’re going to have to invest. It’s going to take time to figure out what works best for you and your loved ones. Sometimes it may take years and still there will be no payout. That’s fine, that’s the way it goes. You’ll know in your heart of hearts that you’ve served as best you could.

Ultimately, there will be a reward. It may not be monetary. You may just receive a text when you get back from your day out and turn your cell phone back on. It may just come in the form of a ‘Thank You!’ letter after years of service or a blessing from God from out of the blue. Ideally you will see it in the changed lives of those you’ve invested in.

However, if you never schedule regular time to get away and regroup, chances are you’ll never be able to slow down enough to see the difference you’re making! So if you’re really busy right now, you need to unplug. You’re like your cellphone: you weren’t designed to run forever without recharging! For most people, one of the first things to get crossed off their list when they’re running full tilt is reflection and recharging. Don’t make that mistake of missing out on your pre-scheduled times of rest.

10,000 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever!

Vocation vs. Vacation

We all have seasons when we just want to go back to bed. Here’s why you shouldn’t do that.

Years ago my Dad took us ice fishing. That’s the kind of thing you do in the Northeast when all of the lakes and ponds freeze up. I especially enjoyed it because I would don a pair of ice skates and sneak out to the farthest tip up and trip the flag. Of course I only did it when things got slow. I wouldn’t say a word, but inevitably someone would see the red flag waving in the distance and everyone would make a mad dash for the “big one”. Often someone would slip and crash on the way after their coveted prize. The game never got old. Still makes me laugh!

When I wasn’t pulling pranks, I would often sit around and begin to shiver. Eventually I’d complain. My Dad would always say the same thing, “Take a lap!”. That meant that if I got up and started moving I would soon warm up.

When you’re a kid, you often don’t understand the depth of the lessons you’re learning. It’s only years later that you realize how powerful the principles are that you learned.

However, it often takes a set back to realize the importance of lessons you learned in the past.

For example, it’s easy to reach the point where inactivity seems like the best option. There’s actually a law about this. Things that are at rest have a tendency to stay at rest. And guess what? When you rest, you rust!

Remember the Tin man in the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy found him all seized up. If I remember correctly, he only had enough movement in his mouth to ask for a good oiling. We’re no different. Rest is a good thing. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. The same goes for sex, drink, food, you name it. One of the surest ways to lose your race is to take a permanent pitstop.

You see it all of the time in the working world. People retire and not long after they check out. I’m all for retirement if people are able to. However, a permanent vacation is no substitute for a vocation.

Go all the way back to the garden. Work came before the curse. Moses writes, “And the LORD took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:15. After the Fall, God said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” Genesis 3:19.

We weren’t designed for a life of inactivity. We were designed to dress and keep. When we forfeit our dominion, we forfeit our freedom.

If you want to know what that feels like, simply imagine being handcuffed and shackled. God has a better way.

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re here, you can rest assured you are here for a purpose. Part of that purpose is so that you can love God and others as well as yourself. That begins when you take God at his word and act on it. Once you do, that’s just the beginning, there is more. God wants to train you and use you to reach others.

The rub is it’s so easy to get focused on our own needs. When we do, we have a tendency to look inward and take our eyes off God and others. Before long, just like a pail full of water in January, we begin to freeze.

Here are some practical solutions I’ve found helpful.

Stay active. Yes, activity can numb the pain. We’re not talking about being excessively active to the point where we are numb to needs. But rather than looking at getting the mail in January as a curse, keep doing it. While you’re at it, write to others.

Use the phone for more than just texting. Reach out to people. Call them or stop by. People long for company these days. You just may find out that your problems pale in comparison to those of others. Ask people what they’re reading and share some of the titles that are helping you. I’m currently finding great help in “Leadership Pain”, “Concentric Circles of Care”, and “Where is God When it Hurts”. I’m also finding great comfort reading and praying through the Psalms.

Take a walk. Bake some cookies. Spend half a day cleaning the house. Just start in one corner and before long, you’ll be off to the races. There are very few things that compare to a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Shop around for less expensive car and home owners insurance. Take the kids iceskating. Dance in the kitchen. Be goofy and introduce them to the cartoons you watched as a kid. Dial up a family movie on Netflix…my son and I were recently intrigued by ‘My Side of the Mountain’. Share some of the music you listened to growing up as a kid….American Dream by CSNY recently took me back to the good old days when the future was still a mystery and I was searching for answers. Tell them stories about when you were a kid and how you passed the time before there were computers, cell phones, laptops and Ipads.

Teach. Don’t just pull up to the A.T.M and leave your kid in the car. Give him the debit card and walk him through using it. Let him experience the power of trial and error. Show him how to wash the car and vacuum it. Show him junk mail and how to spot it a mile away. Teach her the importance of quality rather than quantity when completing school work. Let them reap the rewards of bad seed they’ve sowed. Let them go to the bus stop without a coat, without worrying what every one will say. They’ll learn!

Eventually, we all discover that we’re “it”. It’s our turn to pass on generational wisdom and history.

Tomorrow will soon be here. Our lives are but vapors….here one minute and gone the next. The bible says to redeem the time. Cash it in, rather than saving it. These are the golden days, not some time far off in the future, so plant the corn rather than keeping it in the bin to rot and get eaten by the rats. Take a lap!

One Thing That Has The Potential To Cure And Maim

Sooner or later trouble moves in and how you address it makes all the difference in the world. Whatever you do, don’t do what most people do.

Ironically, you won’t notice when trouble moves in. At first you just assume he is a visiting house guest. You may even show him the town. Then it happens.

You come home one day and his socks are in your drawer. One morning you walk in to the bathroom and he’s using your toothbrush. You ask him to leave. He doesn’t.

You call the police to have him removed, and they do. There is peace and quiet, but you’re left to wonder when he’ll be back.

Some aren’t as fortunate. Trouble moves in and takes up permanent residence. He comes in the form of chronic pain, fatigue, uneasiness, debt….

Before most people do the right thing, they usually try to solve the problem on their own. Thankfully, we all have a device to help. With our devices we can find all of the information we need in the wink of an eye. For example, if it’s 9:00 Friday night or 1 a.m Wednesday morning, our problems are no match for our device. You guessed it, our cellphones and computers.

Most of us as Christians would never dream of consulting a fortune teller or a Ouija Board.  Yet, all you have to do is type in your symptoms and problems and the race is on. You can spend hours finding out what is wrong with you. In some cases there are even videos people made who had what you probably have.

However, after the satisfaction of diagnosing your illness, your original houseguest shows up and is more annoying than ever. He convinces you that really you should call the under taker and make your final arrangements.

While this may all strike you as comical, the truth is our over-dependance on knowledge can be a handicap rather than a blessing. True knowledge is wonderful, the problem is that anyone with a keyboard and a domain can come across as an authority today. In ancient days it was called the power of the pen. Today we call it the internet.

Now before you write this author off as a crack pot, please understand he is not against knowledge. But this is the tendency I see. As a society we have reached a point where we value quick answers rather than discipline and commitment to the long haul.

For example, when it comes to debt, it’s inexpensive and convenient to just go online and listen to a six minute Youtube video on debt reduction. No big deal. If it doesn’t take, we’re not out of anything.

If our marriages are struggling, we decide we’ll try going to church online. That’s not to say there aren’t great videos online. There are. However, we weren’t designed to do life alone, we’re designed for relationship.

The crux of the matter is that most of us prefer self-certified experts rather than professionals. By now, you’ve probably figured out that your sister-in-law, although she doesn’t charge and her intentions are good, may be adding to your problems rather than helping them every time you call her for advice.

Look at it this way, when you have a tooth ache, do you go see your neighbor Tom and have him use the tools in his toolbox to fix your tooth?  That’s ridiculous you say, but what’s the difference between that and going online when you need personal spiritual advice?

It’s hard to believe it but we live in a day when pastors are considered just a step below used car salesmen.  They’re to be avoided at all costs, unless of course you’re in a jam.

The good news is you may not be as sick as you think you are.  Maybe the pain you’re currently experiencing is just a gift to help you get the help you need.

I know this one lady who couldn’t stop bleeding for twelve years! She was constantly on the look out for help and spent every last penny she had in the process. Not only did she experience physical pain, she experienced emotional pain in the form of shame and was constantly accosted psychologically! Finally, she met a Dr. who treated her and cured her illness. Can you imagine her joy?

When we try to save a dollar or some time, by taking a “shortcut”, we often do more damage than good. It’s not that they’re aren’t any experts these days, there are. The problem is there are a lot of counterfeits.

In your search for the real thing, don’t let the counterfeits discourage you. Again, they are often well meaning and readily available but that doesn’t mean they deserve a minute of your time. In fact, the minute you stop referencing them, they’ll go away.

You, yourself may be an expert. Congratulations! We need more people just like you. However, just because you’re an expert in one field, it doesn’t make you an expert in all fields. Taking it just a step further, if you’re a mechanic, I’d be willing to bet your own car is in much need of repair. If you’re an accountant, I bet you’re own books are a mess and you have the habit of spending more than you make. Yes, you may be an expert and you’re helping a lot of people but you are also the proverbial cobbler whose own kids have no shoes.

In fact, I bet if I were to ask you to name someone who is an expert in your field, you’d be able to blurt out their name without a moment’s notice. Why don’t you call them and talk with them? Do you think a dentist drills and fills his own teeth?

Perhaps by now we’re tapping a bit closer to the heart of the matter. We all believe we can do it alone, when it was always designed to be a team effort. Find an expert with ‘skin on’. Stop trickling away your fortune to multitudes of lazy boy quarterbacks and pay the expert his reasonable fee. Those freebies that have got you this far may be just fine for now but you know they’re going to fail you at 3 a.m when you crash and there isn’t anyone around to help you get the help you need.

“And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” Mark 5:29