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Yesterday we talked about two things every tech leader needs to do to prepare for Christmas. If you haven?t already read that article, go back and read it. It?s worth the time it takes, and it will prepare you for the three things we?ll be talking about in this next article.

3. Take Control of Your Inbox.

Too often, I come across others who freely use phrases in their emails to me like, ?I was cleaning out my inbox and I came across your email.? Or, ?I found this email from you. Did I ever respond to it??

While the busyness of our day-to-day situation can often limit our ability to act on things, we must remember that the world is still spinning?even outside the four walls of our church. Life on this planet doesn?t revolve around me, but I do have the ability to make the lives of others more difficult.

When we are unable to effectively manage our email inbox or our daily/weekly task list, we inadvertently become a kink in the hose of productivity for others. There is likely almost nothing that we do each day that only affects ourselves. There is a constant ripple effect felt by other departments, volunteers, our family members, and perhaps even those at other organizations?like vendors or contractors. When we fail to properly plan time each day to return emails or tackle the seemingly boring administrative work that we keep ignoring, we limit others? abilities to get work done also.[quote]My email inbox should not be a black hole where things go to die.[/quote]

My email inbox should not be a black hole where things go to die. Instead, I must set time aside each day to respond to, delete, file, or act upon the things that are addressed to me. Likewise, the longer I set aside the less stimulating parts of my to-do list, the harder it will ultimately be to get started. If a project seems open-ended, I need to attach a deadline to it?just so I can create my own motivation and accountability to get it done. One small step each day gets me closer to my end goals, and I don?t have to work nearly as hard as if I?d saved it all up to do at once.

4. Invest in Others Around You.

When we are always busy at work, it?s natural for that work to get our primary attention and energy?especially when we are overwhelmed with large events like Christmas. But in our attempts to focus on tasks and deadlines during those seasons, we often neglect the people who help support us and make it possible for those tasks to be completed.

Instead, I should make it a priority to invest relationally in the lives of my co-workers, subordinate staffers, and volunteers. When I set aside time to focus on those people, I?m showing them that I value them as a person more than I value whatever task or skill they bring to the table. In fact, it communicates even more value when they see me stop what I?m doing just to focus on them, because they now know that I feel they are more important than the task at hand. So, in turn, during those seasons of busyness and stress, they become more willing to work long hours beside me, because I?ve taken the time to invest in them ahead of time. They know they aren?t just a task-doer. They?re part of a team with me.

And we can?t just focus on those affected at work. Our families usually bear the brunt of our busy seasons, because those times mean long hours away from loved ones. So, holiday traditions fall by the wayside, special family events get missed, and our wives jokingly (but sometimes seriously) refer to themselves as ?church widows? because their husbands have essentially disappeared. We can?t allow our families to become collateral damage. Take advantage of the calm before the storm to spend whatever nights and weekends possible with those we love. When our relationships are healthy, we can count on those people to invest encouragement and support in us when we need it the most.[quote]We can?t allow our families to become collateral damage.[/quote]

5. Find Time to Rest.

Arguably the most critical item on this list?there is nothing more instrumental to our own personal health than this. When we are tired and stressed, our bodies don?t perform at their peak. We make bad decisions and we are more affected emotionally (and tend to respond to situations in ways we normally wouldn?t).

There?s a reason God initially established the Sabbath as a day of rest. It?s a time to get refreshed, recharged, and re-energized before we go back into work mode. When we clear our minds and rest our bodies on the front end, we ensure that we have enough fuel in the tank to deal with whatever is about to come our way.

Too often, we wait until we?re exhausted to rest. But as any runner or serious athlete will tell you, the time to get hydrated isn?t when you start to feel thirsty. By then it?s too late, and it will take longer for your body to recover. Likewise, when we push ourselves to the limit in the office, always striving to get as much done as possible, we run our bodies and minds ragged and end up causing ourselves long-term problems. We cannot effectively serve our ministry if we?re always running on an empty tank.[quote]We cannot effectively serve our ministry if we?re always running on an empty tank.[/quote]

Christmas is one of the most amazing seasons of the year, and it?s a time for our churches to shine the light of Christ to those who need to experience it. But it becomes much harder for His light to shine if we?re burnt out.

Take this time before the craziness of Christmas sets in, and get your house in order. Preparing to be healthy now will make sure you do better than just surviving the Christmas season.

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