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The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.

Operation: Clear the Scatter Bookmark

Operation: Clear the Scatter, 4 Tips for Effective Organizational Leadership

Do you ever have those days where it seems that all you’ve done since you walked in the door is put out fires?  Whether at work or in your home life, there are those days where it seems that you don’t get the chance to catch up and breathe!  Have you ever had entire weeks like that?  Has it ever (or is it now) become the work environment that you live in as your Modis Operandi?  When faced with a few moments of quiet time (uh…what’s that?), are you able to climb out of the proverbial hole and get ahead of the tasks at hand?

Military leaders are groomed from an early age to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” as the dynamic and fluid environment that they perform and excel in regularly dictates.  But what about business leaders that are thrown into a fast paced and rigorous work environment without ever having been exposed to that kind of workflow?  How do they cope?  What do they do when burnout sets in (because it will)? 

Here are 4 tools that can help to ease the burden.  They might take some time to implement completely before you can see a change in your workload and your stress levels, and it takes daily intentional activities, but there is light is at the end of the tunnel!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

1.  Prepare for Battle

How you begin your day is probably one of the most important social and psychological exercises that you may or may not give intentional credence towards.  So let’s back up a little bit.  Are you getting enough sleep?  I probably don’t have to remind you but studies show that we need at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to obtain and maintain a healthy balance.  In the next sections below, we’ll discuss some schedule management tools that will help you if you’re a “night owl” or just can’t seem to get to sleep before midnight.

When your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do?  Do you hit snooze so many times that you oversleep?  If you do, you know that leaping out of bed, brushing your teeth (let’s hope) and throwing a half toasted bagel in your mouth as you scramble out the door is not the best way to start your day.  Beginning your day in “late mode” does not put you in the most beneficial frame of mind, and if you’re beginning your day that way, chaos can only ensue and the other drivers on the road will get to feel your wrath as you wrestle through traffic with a chaotic mindset.  Safe?  Probably not.

As challenging as it may be, give yourself plenty of time to get up, out of bed and into the shower so that you’re not having to rush out the door in the morning.  If you like to hit the snooze button, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you have to get up.  That way you can still hit snooze and get up on time.  A better activity is to be able to sit down and eat your breakfast before you leave the house but let’s be real here…self-improvement and habit changing activities take baby steps!

If possible, spend some quiet time with God.  Daily devotionals only take about 5 – 10 minutes as you can read while you eat, ponder and sit in the message, and pray for a fruitful day.  Sitting with the Lord at the beginning of your day will help to set the stage of calmness as you then begin to assess your daily schedule.  If sitting quietly with the Lord and reading a daily devotional over breakfast is too challenging for you to implement at first, consider driving to work with the radio off, or with some Christian music and then pray while you drive (with your eyes open, please).  The Lord loves to engage with you at any time of the day, in any situation and you don’t need to be in a certain posture in order for the Lord to hear your prayer.  Just talk, He’s listening!

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

2.  Get Organized

If you’re one of those people that has a hard time cleaning your room, I know that the concept of organization can be scary and maybe causes you some anxiety.  You’ve managed to “make it work” your entire life so what’s the big deal if your desk/car/kitchen are a little messy, what does that have to do with your quality of work?  I call it “swimming through the muck”.  The “messy-ness” of your life, believe it or not, does have bleed-over into your organizational thinking and prioritization, and can have an impact on the overall workmanship of your products.  Not to worry, we’ll eat this elephant one bite at a time and believe it or not the tasks of organization are not very daunting.  You may even find that the process is relatively simple, easy to follow, and liberating.

A.  Start with your computer.  Does your desktop look like the sea of lost files?  Is your desktop filled with different types of files that are used for different reasons?  Have you completely blocked out the desktop theme so you don’t even see the peaceful picture anymore?  If so, is the “search” functionality your favorite friend?  Believe it or not, there are ways to improve upon your file management system.

i.  Create folders!  Organize your files by subject, or function such as: Supplies, Finance, HR, Training, Draft Documents, etc.  In doing so, you’ll begin to learn how best to compartmentalize your mind so that when you need to find the latest files to work from, you won’t need to stress out or search, you’ll know right where to go!

ii.  Use your calendar!  This may seem to be common sense but segregate your day by what’s on your calendar, and work the items that are on your calendar for that timeslot only.  Now you might be saying…”that won’t work in my workplace”, but I’ll show you how it can when we discuss prioritization and Critical Chain Project Management.

iii.  Prioritize your tasks!  Put out the quick “fires” but then build time into your calendar to catch up on the items that you’ve been avoiding.  Use that time on your calendar for configuration management of your files, or to finalize documents, or to respond to emails.  Be intentional and be consistent and most importantly, do it!

a).  Critical Chain Project Management allows you to identify the highest priority items, and then segregate them, and where possible, work those items ONLY.  This means you might have to turn off your phone and set up your out-of-office reply.  Segregate yourself as you are on the “Critical Path” burning down tasks that are critical to the success of the delivery.  Others need to be aware of the Critical Chain and where they can help you to be segregated.  You might need to delegate many things and empower others in your organization to do some tasks that you normally would do, during the time that you’re segregated working on prioritized critical tasks.  I know this can be hard to do for us control freaks, but that’s an issue for another article.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

B.  Make lists!  You’d be surprised how a simple checklist can help you to manage the tasks at hand, especially when they seemingly become overwhelming.  Using your day planner, in conjunction with your calendar, or even just a piece of regular old paper, write out your tasks that you need to accomplish, as framed by the subject area of your calendar.  Don’t overdo it and keep your lists compartmentalized to the task that you’re working based on what you’ve placed on your calendar for that timeframe.  Once you complete the task, check it off of your list!

Making lists eases your mind because it takes the scatter out of your mind and puts it on the paper, which then becomes manageable and less daunting.  Why stay awake at night wondering what to do the next day with the multitude of overwhelming tasks running around your brain?  Take a couple of minutes to get the tasks out of your head, and onto the manageable paper.

3.  Turn Off Social Media

This should be a “no-brainer”.  If you’re that OCD person that can’t avoid the pressure to not address the blinking light on your phone, then put your phone in a drawer, or keep it out of sight as you focus on the critical path.  Turn off all alerts, visible and audible so that you’re not tempted by the never-ending persistence of the blinking light.  If there’s an emergency, your family can call your place of business on a separate line.  This must be an intentional and disciplined approach if you aspire to clear the scatter effectively.

 

 

4.  Be Still and Know

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!  (Psalm 37:7 ESV)

At the beginning of the day, and all throughout the day we have to breathe.  We can’t be effective leaders if we’re constantly running at a highly chaotic pace.  If you’re functioning in that mode continuously, it’s not healthy for you, or for your peers and subordinates as you create and place undue pressures on them.  Manage your workload accordingly, and you’ll make for a more harmonious leader that can help others to manage their workloads efficiently and effectively.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

 In doing so, God wants you to slow down and be still, and know that He is God.  Your identity is not in the ability to meet the deadline.  Your identity is not in the salary that you make nor in the car that you drive.  Your identity is not found within the stripes on your sleeve or the device on your collar.  Your identity, first and foremost is as a loving child of the one true living God.  The almighty creator that first breathed life into you and continues to be the very breath that fills your lungs on a daily basis.  Be still in that, feel the overwhelming love and rest in the peace that is promised eternity, that which is found in Christ Jesus.

Shalom.

Operation: Clear the Scatter, 4 Tips for Effective Organizational Leadership

Do you ever have those days where it seems that all you’ve done since you walked in the door is put out fires?  Whether at work or in your home life, there are those days where it seems that you don’t get the chance to catch up and breathe!  Have you ever had entire weeks like that?  Has it ever (or is it now) become the work environment that you live in as your Modis Operandi?  When faced with a few moments of quiet time (uh…what’s that?), are you able to climb out of the proverbial hole and get ahead of the tasks at hand?

Military leaders are groomed from an early age to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” as the dynamic and fluid environment that they perform and excel in regularly dictates.  But what about business leaders that are thrown into a fast paced and rigorous work environment without ever having been exposed to that kind of workflow?  How do they cope?  What do they do when burnout sets in (because it will)? 

Here are 4 tools that can help to ease the burden.  They might take some time to implement completely before you can see a change in your workload and your stress levels, and it takes daily intentional activities, but there is light is at the end of the tunnel!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

1.  Prepare for Battle

How you begin your day is probably one of the most important social and psychological exercises that you may or may not give intentional credence towards.  So let’s back up a little bit.  Are you getting enough sleep?  I probably don’t have to remind you but studies show that we need at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to obtain and maintain a healthy balance.  In the next sections below, we’ll discuss some schedule management tools that will help you if you’re a “night owl” or just can’t seem to get to sleep before midnight.

When your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do?  Do you hit snooze so many times that you oversleep?  If you do, you know that leaping out of bed, brushing your teeth (let’s hope) and throwing a half toasted bagel in your mouth as you scramble out the door is not the best way to start your day.  Beginning your day in “late mode” does not put you in the most beneficial frame of mind, and if you’re beginning your day that way, chaos can only ensue and the other drivers on the road will get to feel your wrath as you wrestle through traffic with a chaotic mindset.  Safe?  Probably not.

As challenging as it may be, give yourself plenty of time to get up, out of bed and into the shower so that you’re not having to rush out the door in the morning.  If you like to hit the snooze button, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you have to get up.  That way you can still hit snooze and get up on time.  A better activity is to be able to sit down and eat your breakfast before you leave the house but let’s be real here…self-improvement and habit changing activities take baby steps!

If possible, spend some quiet time with God.  Daily devotionals only take about 5 – 10 minutes as you can read while you eat, ponder and sit in the message, and pray for a fruitful day.  Sitting with the Lord at the beginning of your day will help to set the stage of calmness as you then begin to assess your daily schedule.  If sitting quietly with the Lord and reading a daily devotional over breakfast is too challenging for you to implement at first, consider driving to work with the radio off, or with some Christian music and then pray while you drive (with your eyes open, please).  The Lord loves to engage with you at any time of the day, in any situation and you don’t need to be in a certain posture in order for the Lord to hear your prayer.  Just talk, He’s listening!

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

2.  Get Organized

If you’re one of those people that has a hard time cleaning your room, I know that the concept of organization can be scary and maybe causes you some anxiety.  You’ve managed to “make it work” your entire life so what’s the big deal if your desk/car/kitchen are a little messy, what does that have to do with your quality of work?  I call it “swimming through the muck”.  The “messy-ness” of your life, believe it or not, does have bleed-over into your organizational thinking and prioritization, and can have an impact on the overall workmanship of your products.  Not to worry, we’ll eat this elephant one bite at a time and believe it or not the tasks of organization are not very daunting.  You may even find that the process is relatively simple, easy to follow, and liberating.

A.  Start with your computer.  Does your desktop look like the sea of lost files?  Is your desktop filled with different types of files that are used for different reasons?  Have you completely blocked out the desktop theme so you don’t even see the peaceful picture anymore?  If so, is the “search” functionality your favorite friend?  Believe it or not, there are ways to improve upon your file management system.

i.  Create folders!  Organize your files by subject, or function such as: Supplies, Finance, HR, Training, Draft Documents, etc.  In doing so, you’ll begin to learn how best to compartmentalize your mind so that when you need to find the latest files to work from, you won’t need to stress out or search, you’ll know right where to go!

ii.  Use your calendar!  This may seem to be common sense but segregate your day by what’s on your calendar, and work the items that are on your calendar for that timeslot only.  Now you might be saying…”that won’t work in my workplace”, but I’ll show you how it can when we discuss prioritization and Critical Chain Project Management.

iii.  Prioritize your tasks!  Put out the quick “fires” but then build time into your calendar to catch up on the items that you’ve been avoiding.  Use that time on your calendar for configuration management of your files, or to finalize documents, or to respond to emails.  Be intentional and be consistent and most importantly, do it!

a).  Critical Chain Project Management allows you to identify the highest priority items, and then segregate them, and where possible, work those items ONLY.  This means you might have to turn off your phone and set up your out-of-office reply.  Segregate yourself as you are on the “Critical Path” burning down tasks that are critical to the success of the delivery.  Others need to be aware of the Critical Chain and where they can help you to be segregated.  You might need to delegate many things and empower others in your organization to do some tasks that you normally would do, during the time that you’re segregated working on prioritized critical tasks.  I know this can be hard to do for us control freaks, but that’s an issue for another article.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

B.  Make lists!  You’d be surprised how a simple checklist can help you to manage the tasks at hand, especially when they seemingly become overwhelming.  Using your day planner, in conjunction with your calendar, or even just a piece of regular old paper, write out your tasks that you need to accomplish, as framed by the subject area of your calendar.  Don’t overdo it and keep your lists compartmentalized to the task that you’re working based on what you’ve placed on your calendar for that timeframe.  Once you complete the task, check it off of your list!

Making lists eases your mind because it takes the scatter out of your mind and puts it on the paper, which then becomes manageable and less daunting.  Why stay awake at night wondering what to do the next day with the multitude of overwhelming tasks running around your brain?  Take a couple of minutes to get the tasks out of your head, and onto the manageable paper.

3.  Turn Off Social Media

This should be a “no-brainer”.  If you’re that OCD person that can’t avoid the pressure to not address the blinking light on your phone, then put your phone in a drawer, or keep it out of sight as you focus on the critical path.  Turn off all alerts, visible and audible so that you’re not tempted by the never-ending persistence of the blinking light.  If there’s an emergency, your family can call your place of business on a separate line.  This must be an intentional and disciplined approach if you aspire to clear the scatter effectively.

 

 

4.  Be Still and Know

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!  (Psalm 37:7 ESV)

At the beginning of the day, and all throughout the day we have to breathe.  We can’t be effective leaders if we’re constantly running at a highly chaotic pace.  If you’re functioning in that mode continuously, it’s not healthy for you, or for your peers and subordinates as you create and place undue pressures on them.  Manage your workload accordingly, and you’ll make for a more harmonious leader that can help others to manage their workloads efficiently and effectively.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

 In doing so, God wants you to slow down and be still, and know that He is God.  Your identity is not in the ability to meet the deadline.  Your identity is not in the salary that you make nor in the car that you drive.  Your identity is not found within the stripes on your sleeve or the device on your collar.  Your identity, first and foremost is as a loving child of the one true living God.  The almighty creator that first breathed life into you and continues to be the very breath that fills your lungs on a daily basis.  Be still in that, feel the overwhelming love and rest in the peace that is promised eternity, that which is found in Christ Jesus.

Shalom.



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