Earlier this summer, I found myself almost completely depleted of energy and strength:
- I was falling asleep while driving, and small things seemed to be overly stressful to me.
- I felt nothing was organized, and I was constantly driven by the tyranny of the urgent.
- I had gained about ten pounds, and the stress continued to mount.
- I could hardly focus on anything for more than a few minutes.
Fortunately, there are some people who help watch over my life, who did a bit of an intervention. They required I take three sequential weeks off from the church including two Sundays. I scheduled my time off as far out as possible, so I could have adequate time to prepare, choosing the last week of July and the first two weeks of August. This became my “sabbatical”.
Today is my first day back “in the office”, so I’m listing the things I intend to do differently as I move back into the rush and busyness of life. This is a great exercise, because it forces me to write it out and it even brings a certain level of accountability, since I’m making this list public.
1) Appointments with Me: Instead of operating from a simple “to-do” list, I’ve created blocks of time in my calendar to accomplish the tasks I need to do on a weekly basis. I calculated how much time each task normally takes, added about 10-15% additional time, and dropped them into my calendar as recurring appointments. I can also move and reschedule these “appointments with me” as needed. Due to the fact that I tend to become rather stressed and less effective if I focus on one task for over an hour, I’ve broken up the major tasks into bite-sized chunks. My calendar looks full, but at least I’ll be focused now.
2) No More Pings: During my sabbatical, I deleted all social media apps and turned off my text / email pings. At first, it actually seemed to increase my stress, but after a week or so, I gave in, enjoying the fact that I was no longer getting an adrenaline rush every time my phone pinged. So, I’ve reinstalled my social media apps, but turned off all notifications, emails, pings, etc. I now have daily scheduled time to look at this stuff.
3) Email Consolidation: Can you believe I have eight email addresses? I have one for every facet of my life. (I think my life is too faceted). So, I took an entire afternoon and consolidated all of my email to flow through one Gmail account. I turned off all the email alerts, and will check it once or twice daily, emptying my inbox each time.
4) Heightened Delegation: There are so many things that fall into the “important” column of my life, but I simply cannot do them all. Therefore, when it comes to my church work, I’m not going to pick the ball back up from the tasks that were delegated to a variety of volunteers while I was away. They can do these things just as good if not better than me, anyway.
5) Repositioning for Flexibility: To maintain a healthy life for myself and my family, I’ve made the choice to adjust my schedule to be more accommodating for my family and recreation time. In addition, my children will begin an alternative school option, allowing their schedules to flex with mine. We will get to be with each other more, and I like that.
6) Choosing to be Fully Present: With my family, my team, my friends and my casual relationships, I’ve chosen to listen, be responsive, be attentive, and not be distracted by various forms of media. Really, it’s simply arrogant and rude for me to be constantly distracted.
7) Food and Exercise: I go to the gym a lot, but lately, I’ve been eating poorly. Over the past year or so, I have constantly overridden my trained mind that “food is fuel” to embracing more of a “food is fun” mentality. Although I never really stopped thinking about what I was eating, I caved to the wrong foods continually. So, during my sabbatical, I spent a lot of time counting calories and re-adjusting my eating habits. It’s paid off already, for I’ve peeled off several pounds, and I still have a new goal to hit and sustain over the next several weeks.
These 7 Post-Sabbatical Changes may seem like simple, trivial adjustments, but combined, they will make a vast difference in how I lead my own life. For, if I am able lead and manage ME well, then I have a better chance at being a quality leader for others.
I’m feeling wonderful coming off my sabbatical and I desire to keep feeling good. The next few weeks will test these seven decisions, and some may need to be tweaked, but if I want different results, I’m going to have to do something different.
Ask me in 60 days how I’m doing!