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In the third of four episodes on how healthy leaders use their smartphones, Matt and Tal talk about the challenges we face in how we use our phone. Plus, they share a simple framework that you can use today to multiply the benefit you get from your phone.

How To Get The Most From Your Phone
  • Fence. Set boundaries around the time when you use your phone and stay away from your phone.
  • Focus. Leverage tools on your phone to help you stay away from distraction and the myth of multi-tasking.
  • Fill. Make sure that your most significant work makes it into your calendar. 
  • Filter. Determine whether your current task requires the use of your phone. 
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Brief Overview:

In the second of four episodes on how healthy leaders use their smartphones, Matt and Tal talk through the details of taking a 24-hour break from your smartphone. They talk about why we get hooked on our phones, the benefits of taking a 24-hour break from our phones and how to take the next steps to freedom.

Benefits of a Digital Detox:
  • Freedom from FOMO: The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a problem compounded by the way our phones tap into our neurochemistry. A consistent break from your phone disrupts that connection and helps to create healthier phone habits.
  • Freedom from Overwork: Show us the person who is always on their phone, and we’ll show you a person who is working more than they should.
  • Freedom for Praying: Few challenges are more difficult to overcome than disconnecting from the constant distraction of your phone to make room for focused times of prayer.
  • Freedom for Play: When you have an entire day disconnected from your phone, you find time to enjoy unhurried opportunities for fun and leisure with family and friends. 
Resources:Rate & Review the Podcast

Reviews for the podcast on iTunes and greatly appreciated! They help us build awareness for the show, which in turn allows us to bring value to more listeners like you. Not only that, but they help us better understand what matters the most to you so that we can constantly improve. If you received value from this episode, it would mean the world if you could take a moment and leave your honest rating and review. You can do that by clicking here!

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In the first of four episodes on how healthy leaders use their smartphones, Matt and Tal show you the possibilities of using your smartphone in a different way. In the face of increased concerns about the holistic impact of smartphone use, healthy leaders are reimagining their relationship with their phone.

Benefits of Better Smartphone Use:
  • Heightened sense of security and gratitude. Research shows that smartphone use increases the risk of loneliness and depression. Mentally healthy leaders limit the time they spend on their phone.
  • Improved sleep. Your phone emits a level of radiation that disrupts the quality of your sleep. Physically healthy leaders keep their phone in another room at night.
  • Better connections in relationships. Our relationships are damaged by decreased eye contact as we scroll our phones. Relationally healthy leaders set boundaries on their phones when they’re spending time with people. 
  • Better able to hear God. Your phone creates an untold number of distractions from the time you spend listening to God through the Scriptures and responding in prayer. Spiritually healthy leaders consider the cost of using your phone to fuel your relationship with God.
  • More productive at work. Your productivity will increase and you will feel better at the end of the day if you are not glued to your phone. Vocationally healthy leaders limit their access to work-related apps on their phone. 
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Griddiron Blog by Matt Adair - 2w ago
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In this last installment of our series on work, Matt and Tal answer five questions that church leaders should wrestle with related to how much they work. We live in a world that celebrates ‘the hardest workers in the room’ but when does our hustle become a problem? What are the warning signs that we are becoming addicted to work? How do we put Pandora back in her box if our schedule is out of control and our heart is out of alignment with the way of Jesus?

Evaluation Questions:
  • Do you get more excited about work than your family or anything else? Misplaced love is a symptom of addiction.
  • Do you take work with you to bed, into the weekend and/or on vacation? When work spills into parts of life not intended for work, you squeeze out critical components of your health.
  • Do you believe it’s ok to work long hours if you love your work? Would you believe it's ok to excessively drink or play video games just because you love it?
  • Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop working to do something else? If you get irritated when someone asks you to stop doing something, that’s a sign your body and soul is becoming hooked.
  • Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships? We dare you to ask your spouse or children...
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Ever feel like you’re not hearing the whole truth about the benefits of hard work?

In my (Tal) work as a therapist, I tend to hear things differently than other people. I spend almost as much time listening to what is not being said as I do to what is being said. Here’s a great example - when a client walks into my office, I start with very complex question; you know something along the lines of “How’s it going?”

When you ask that question, what are some of the top answers you receive? What is your quick, unedited response to that question? I can tell you that the most frequent answer I get is, “Man, I’m busy.” Is that how you would respond?

Busy is the new “fine.” Busy is the expected answer. Busy is also very often the truthful answer. But what is not being said? Usually, what is not being said is “I’m really stressed,” or “I’m just not able to be productive,” or “freaking out because my family is upset with me for not being at home,” or “I feel like I’m drowning.”

There is a false nobility in being busy, because to say you are not busy is the cultural equivalent of saying, “I’m really unimportant.” None of us want people to think that, so we say make sure we are busy, or at least that we look busy.

There’s a canyon between productive and busy.

‘Be The Hardest Worker In The Room’

I’ve noticed when counseling high impact leaders, that they often battle with the idea that they have to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave. The idea is often, “I can’t ask my team to work any harder than I do.” Sometimes, the challenge there is that we fall for a faulty equation that says time equals hard work. That’s not necessarily so, though is it? Maybe you know that person who rules the office pop-in; they pop in your office hang out and talk about anything and everything but their work. They go down the hall doing this all day, but they are the last ones to leave. Why? Because they have been procrastinating all day.

Sometimes we want to look like the hardest worker in the room because we fear that is how promotion gets made. We don’t anyone to think we are lazy, or to make the joke when we are leaving at 5, “Hey, putting in a half-day today?”

The reality is that there is a point of diminishing returns with working too hard, or too much. It impacts our physical, emotional, mental and relational health. It can become a wrecking ball into every area of our lives, and at that point we are stuck on the treadmill with no vision as to how to get off of it, while simultaneously living in fear of face-planting on it as well. This is the very definition of unhealthy.

Health Over Hustle

Recently on our podcast, we spent four episodes talking about challenges that leaders face related to work. In our work as a therapist (Tal) and performance coach (Matt) with almost 40 years of combined ministry experience, we’ve become convinced that health rather than hustle is the best barometer of someone’s long-term success at work.

Now that we’re working with pastors and ministry leaders across the country and around the world, we’re thrilled to see the freedom, resilience, and hope that this different way of approaching work provides.

What does it look like choose health over hustle? Here’s a plan we put together for you.

How Healthy Leaders Work

Healthy leaders - leaders who lead at a high level for a long time - consistently make three critical decisions that shape their work: they establish boundaries; they set priorities; they fight to focus.


Boundaries

Boundaries provide clarity. On a map, state lines and city limits help you know where you are relative to where you want to be. For leaders, this means we need to establish boundaries around our work and inside of our work.

Let me explain.

Open up your calendar of choice. Odds are that you have a print or digital option that allows you to see an entire week at one time. Let me know when you get there.

Every week has 168 hours. 

Conventional wisdom tells you that success comes on the basis of what you do with those hours. No one gets more hours than anyone else; what separates success from mediocrity is what you choose to do with your time.

Let’s agree with that and add an asterisk. What you do with your time is critical to your success. But - and here’s where healthy leaders and hustling leaders take different forks in the road - what conventional wisdom doesn’t tell you is that when it comes to working, the way forward involves choosing to limit rather than multiply your time.

Let me show you.

Schedule sleep
Healthy leaders sleep 7-9 hours per night and the healthiest leaders consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

How do they do it?

First, healthy leaders decide they are not a unicorn. The most common reason leaders don’t get enough sleep is because they don’t believe they need it. Science looks at them and laughs. Say it with me, “I need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.”

Second, healthy leaders quit giving themselves the benefit of the doubt. In the absence of data, I will convince myself and swear to others that I get more sleep than I do. Nothing has done more for my increased sleep (I used to average 4-5 hours per night) than the sleep tracker on my Fitbit. 

Third, healthy leaders declare when they are going to bed and getting up. They open up their calendar and add the time when they plan to be asleep. They ask their spouse or a friend to help them follow through.

Fourth, healthy leaders prepare to sleep well. They start to get ready for bed an hour before they turn out the lights. They create an environment conducive to good sleep (cool and dark room, loose sleepwear, etc.).

Schedule Sabbath
One of the gifts that Judeo-Christian ethics gives to the world is the principle of sabbath - setting aside one day from work to pray and to play. If sleep creates one set of boundaries around work, sabbath reinforces the power of limitation by reminding us that we were made to work six days a week, not seven.

While the concept of Sabbath is familiar to most church leaders, there is often a gap between our awareness and action. If you want to thrive as a leader, follow the practices laid out above related to sleep to help you enjoy sabbath every week.

For me (Matt), Sabbath takes place from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. During that time, I exchange my work as a pastor and coach for a kind of rest that can only be experienced through an extended time of praying and playing.

Schedule time with family
Hustling leaders tend to neglect their family. Time with spouse and children is often scattered, if not sparse, and everyone knows why: work comes first. Rhetoric to the contrary flies in the face of decades of therapy and pastoral counseling.

Healthy leaders schedule time with their family. They are honest about their tendency to put work before family. They are aware of habits the prioritize their own needs before the needs of those that they love most. They are willing to admit that if it isn’t planned, it probably won’t happen.

Two practices we encourage are family nights and one-on-ones with each member of your immediate family. I (Matt) make this part of our family’s rhythm of Sabbath. Friday nights are family fun nights - we watch movies, play board games, go to the pool during the summer. On Saturdays, I spend one-on-one time with each of my three sons. Lindsey and I spend time together on Friday nights after the boys go to bed, reconnecting after the craziness that makes up the rest of our week.

Schedule time to work
Hustling leaders are always working. Healthy leaders choose when to start and stop their work.

One of the silly myths of pastoral work is that the pastor must always be available for people. There is no biblical warrant for such practice; in fact, texts such as Ephesians 4 carves a different path encouraging pastors to leverage their gifts to raise up others to join them in the particular work of caring for people’s souls. 

That calendar in front of you? Use it to help you choose when to start and stop your work. 

How many hours should you work each week? Assuming that you work ‘full-time’ in a church, here’s my (Matt) formula. Take the number of hours your church considers to be full-time and add in the maximum number of hours you expect volunteers to serve each week in your church.

In the church I help lead, we consider 40 hours a week to be full-time and we expect volunteers to serve for 5 hours or less each week. So, 40 hours + 5 hours = 45 hours. That’s how many hours that I work each week. Beyond that, everyone suffers - my family suffers, my church suffers because I don’t give them great work and others who could/should be doing that work are cut out because of my selfishness, and I suffer because I’m cutting corners in other parts of life. 

Healthy leaders establish boundaries around work. We know when we’re working and when we’re not working because we’re sleeping, spending time with family or enjoying sabbath. Now let’s talk about the boundaries we establish inside of our work by setting priorities about the work we do each day. 

Priorities

All work is not equally valuable. Without a method to prioritize tasks and projects, we are often left to the whims of external demands or internal preferences. The result is work that doesn’t make the most out of our day, even though we’re working hard.

So here’s the question: how do I organize my work to get the most out of my day?

Dwight Eisenhower served as the 34th President of the United States, as well as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. To help him answer the question above, he developed a method called the Eisenhower Matrix.

Here’s how the matrix works:

Create a task list
What are the tasks or projects you need to complete at work? From the unimportant to the critical, from the urgent to the stuff no one’s paying attention to, take 5-10 minutes and build your list.

Do this now
Go through your list and mark every task that is both urgent (must be done today) and important (based on your job description) by writing ‘DO’ next to the task. These tasks are what you will work on first today.

These tasks can often be an effect of not being planned or prepared for. Is there anything you can add to your schedule to prevent ‘deadline emergencies’ from reoccurring?

Do this later
Go through your list and mark every task that is not urgent (it doesn’t have to be done today) but it is important (based on your job description) by writing ‘DECIDE’ next to the task. These tasks will be scheduled on your calendar for a later date.

These tasks tend to be the most significant work that you do. For preachers, this is the place where sermon preparation should go. It won’t be urgent until Sunday but it is vitally important, so get it into your calendar if you’re not working on it today. 

Delegate this
Got through your list and mark every task that is urgent (must be done today) but not important (based on your job description) by writing ‘DELEGATE’ next to the task. These are tasks that should be delegated, outsourced or systemized.

These tasks are low hanging fruit so work to either get them off your plate or create a system in your day to ONLY check in on them twice (i.e., check email at 10 am and 4 pm daily). 

Delete this
Go through your list and mark every task that is neither urgent (it doesn’t have to be done today) nor important (based on your job description) by writing ‘DELETE’ next to the task. These are tasks that should be deleted, avoided or postponed until later.

When you create space in your day from these tasks, fill that time with the ‘Do This Later’ tasks. 

This entire process of creating and sorting a task list typically takes less than 15 minutes but that small investment of time will revolutionize how you go about getting work done every day.

Focus

So now you have a good idea of what you’re going to work on today. But you need to know that a minefield of distractions lies in wait for you. If you don’t focus on the work ahead, you’ll end up wasting time and wasting the day.

Based on the task and time available, choose one of four periods of time to work on a particular task:

  • All-Day
  • Half-Day
  • Quarter-Day
  • One Hour

Make sure to schedule the appropriate time in your calendar. Avoid the temptation to choose the largest amount of time available to complete a task. One helpful way to focus is to force yourself to complete a task in a shorter amount of time.

Now that you know how long you’ll be working on this task, let’s make sure you spend that time on the actual task. Because of the pervasive nature of distractions, adopt the Pomodoro Technique to help you focus.

There are variations of Pomodoro, but the basic concept is that you’ll work without distraction for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. At the end of the third 25 minute period, you take a longer break (between 20-30 minutes). There are a number of apps that you can download on your phone that use a timer to keep up with the Pomodoro rhythm. 

Do The Next Right Thing

If you want to be successful, choose health over hustle. Hustling leaders create short-term wins in one part of life at the expense of their long-term health in every part of life. Healthy leaders sacrifice short-term wins in one part of life for the sake of their long-term health in every part of life. 

Our goal in this article is to draw your attention to a different way of doing work and to help you grow awareness and develop a plan of action. What lies ahead is up to you but we want to encourage you that ideas mean practically nothing until they’re converted into action.

Oh, and if you understand and are already building your work life on these foundational principles of boundaries, priorities, and focus, you might consider investing in our course on productivity. 

The Choice Is Yours

Back to this fork in the road between doing something or doing nothing. On one of our podcast episodes, we discussed five questions designed to help you diagnose whether or not your work habits are healthy.

Take a look at them and give a gut reaction answer:

  • Do you get more excited about work than your family or anything else?
  • Do you take work with you to bed, into the weekend and/or on vacation?
  • Do you believe it’s ok to work long hours if you love your work?
  • Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop working to do something else?
  • Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions, we encourage you to have an honest conversation with someone you trust. Based on our own struggle and experience as a therapist and coach, we recognize these as symptoms of work addiction. 

We don’t play around with a word like ‘addiction’ so if we’re using it that means that it’s something we take seriously. So please don’t blow this off or hide from the reality that you can see inside your head and heart that is creeping into more and more of your life.

The good news is that there is a way to do work that gives us the best opportunity to thrive in every part of life. Choose health over hustle. Embrace the limitations of boundaries. Trust in the priorities you set. Focus on what matters most at any given time in your day.


 

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Griddiron Blog by Matt Adair - 1M ago
Brief Overview:

The needs of the people we serve rarely fit easily inside of a tightly wound schedule. There is a level of flexibility that we must maintain in order to be with our people where they are, yet if we’re not careful we will find ourselves only doing surface-level work with little time and energy to focus on our best work. On this episode, we help you find the right strategy to focus on your most significant work and maintain access to your church.

Big Ideas:
  • Distracted work is disappointing work. When you are distracted the quality of your work suffers. You were not made to multitask and focus deeply on your work. And while everything you do does not require a significant level of focus, eliminate distractions when you need to do deep work.
  • Different people need different strategies. Schedule deep work in hourlong, half-day or full-day installments. Use another account on your computer. Create a work environment that helps you focus and avoid distractions. 
  • Great work manages distractions. Pay attention to the times of day and type of work when you feel frustrated by distractions. Use the ideas in this resource to develop and execute on a simple action plan. Don’t try to create the perfect plan - just take the next step and give yourself permission to make progress!
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Brief Overview

We all know that having a schedule and keeping a schedule is important for pastors. But far too often, we don’t make the best use of our schedules and this damages both our preaching and our health. If you want to thrive as a preacher, here are a few ideas that will help you make and stick to your schedule.

Big Ideas:
  • Scrambling increases stress that damages your health. Forced, last minute sermon preparation increases anxiety, reduces the amount of time you sleep, challenges relationships and pushes time with God in prayer to the side. This is how you become a talking head.
  • Schedule your sermon preparation. Clarify the steps in your preparation process. Get each step on your calendar. Show up when that time is scheduled.
  • Schedule your sleep. Embrace your limitations and decide well in advance when you’re going to bed. Not only is this an act of worship, it’s a declaration of sanity. Your best work consistently happens when you get a good night’s sleep. 
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Griddiron Blog by Matt Adair - 1M ago
Brief Overview

Church leaders aren’t scared to work but struggle to do their best work. We feel guilty for not working harder, we’re frustrated that we’re not better at certain aspects of our work, and we feel like everyone else in our church thinks we don’t work hard enough. On this episode of the Five Factors podcast, Matt and Tal tackle those struggles head on and map out a better way to work. 

Big Ideas
  • The secret to great work is a leader who embraces their limits. Too many church leaders are always available, do work that belongs to someone else and are consistently distracted. Smart leaders create boundaries, priorities and focus on what matters most. 
  • Audit your schedule. Make sure you’re clear on how much work you’re doing by tracking how your time is spent for a week. How many hours did you work? What exactly did you do during those hours? What did you accomplish at the end of the day?
  • Ask other leaders about their work. Ask five leaders in your church about their work. What time do they start and stop? How do they create boundaries, priorities and focus in their work?
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Brief Overview

At the heart of culture is relationships. How do people get along as they work to lead the mission of your church? Bryan Miles sits down with Matt to talk about the surprising benefit that comes when your staff has the flexibility to work remotely (at least part of the time).

Big Ideas:
  • Your next hire should be a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant increases the productivity of a pastor by 2x-4x. And great companies like Belay (belaysolutions.com) handle the training and management of your assistant, so you can focus on getting work done together.
  • Remote work increases staff productivity. When you treat someone like an adult, you end up with someone who does work with greater levels of joy and a higher sense of loyalty to you and the mission of your church.
  • People don’t need an office to thrive as workers. Connection and collaboration can take place with great results using digital platforms. What matters more than being together is what we accomplish together. 
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Brief Overview

Every church is looking for more of the right kind of volunteer leaders. But a healthy network of volunteer leaders doesn’t get built by accident. On this episode, Scott Magdalein talks with Matt about Trained Up, an online platform he built to help church leaders equip every one of their volunteer leaders. 

Big Ideas:
  • The best time to train volunteers is when they get started. Help volunteer leaders take their first step when they excited about the work and eager to learn. Take time to clarify their role, share the values of the team, and set expectations for their first work day.
  • The best way to share information is through online training. Time is a precious commodity that most people don’t want to invest for the sake of sharing information. Plus, many of our volunteer leaders need time to listen and process information before they’re ready to ask good questions or engage in conversation.
  • Trained Up makes it easy to get started training your volunteers. You don’t have to have volunteer training already figured out. Trained Up comes pre-loaded with over 600 videos inside multiple courses to help you.
Resources

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