My friend Ryan Russell put up a great blog post the other day about how to get work done, and as soon as I saw it, I sent it out to everyone who does work for our ministry. It was just too good. But I also felt like I needed to add a little bit to it, so here are my thoughts on his thoughts, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how our team works:
We all work from home. We all work on our own. We all should know by now when we work best and how we get stuff done. As you can see from reading Ryan’s blog post, he loves work, but he also loves and is involved in a number of things that aren’t his work. I hate when people say they work so much that they don’t have time for their wife or friends or hobbies or anything else. You’ll burn out that way, plus it’s not healthy.
It comes back to your ability to lead and manage. You all can take time off whenever you want. You all can schedule your day however you want. You have a list of things you oversee or you are a part of, and you know where you are on that list.
So, I have some challenges for you. Some of you will think I’m just over-the-top crazy with this, and if you have a better plan and are successful in it, great! If you don’t and you aren’t, then take this advice.
Plan date nights with your spouse. If you don’t, your marriage will suffer and/or be over. If you enjoy spending time with your spouse but don’t schedule it out, then you don’t enjoy the time. I work from home all day when I am in town. On Fridays, since the kids are off at school, Jeanette and I usually go see an early movie (only 6 bucks!) and then go to lunch. Afterward, I get back online and work, and no one knows I was at the movies. In addition to that, we try and do a fun activity or night out once a week with no kids, whether that is just dinner or some event we are invited to or with friends.
Plan times to get away. My personality is such that I always like looking forward to something and am planning ahead. Jeanette turned 40 recently; I had a trip planned for her birthday. Christmas break, we have a trip planned. I’m already planning and looking ahead at what we are doing next summer. Don’t get caught last-minute on things: plan ahead both for your spouse and family. I once heard this formula and thought it was great: 1 night a week, 1 day a month, 1 week a year. Those are good ideas for time you need to plan with just you and spouse. Jeanette and I have no family for watching kids for a week, so we divide up our overnights.
Dig into the things you love besides work. I love football. Before this NFL season began, I already knew the games I was going to and who was going with me. You need to have things you enjoy to keep you sane. I started playing soccer late Thursday nights on a men’s team, I coach my daughter Elise’s soccer team, and I was just asked to coach her all-star team. That is commitment, but I can work around all of it, and it gives me time to spend with friends, doing things I love, or with my kids individually. My son Nolan is an actor, so I also take him to auditions and to the set when he’s working. I can work from my computer or my phone, and I love being on the set with him instead of at home in my bed working. I also know most days between 3pm-6pm are his auditions, so 3-4 times a week, my afternoons are shot – so I adjust my work around that. All of you: say yes to your kids, your spouse, and things you love to do. I also go to movies by myself that no one else wants to see. Get out of the house. Turn your computer off, and if you want to work out, talk to Ryan because I don’t exercise.
Make friends. Too many people I know these days have no friends. That sucks! Get involved with people other than your family. I don’t have a ton of time for a ton of people, but I can make a lot of time for a few people. That’s the way to go.
Get a mentor or two. You might think you know it all, but you don’t. Older people have knowledge you don’t – and they would love to share it with you. Everyone should be involved or have people you can learn from.
Read books, not just crap on the internet. I read a book a week most weeks. I’m into businesses and nonprofits, so those are my tastes. From Geek Squad, to how Google was made, to nonprofit stuff, to how to be a better dad, to how to be a better husband. I’m not into novels but you might be. You have to be constantly learning and growing, and reading is a great way to do that.
Expect the rhythms. There are rhythms in life and in this work; you’ll figure them out the longer you stay. Dead times, crazy times, and everything in between. We can’t all run 100 miles per hour all year and don’t expect to, so understanding those and then planning your life around those are key.
You might not think all this is work-related, but I don’t see how it isn’t. If you can learn how to manage and make time for the things that matter, if you can find a good rhythm and balance there, then you’ll probably be happier and enjoy the work that you get to do more.