I think it is fairly common knowledge that most pastors feel like they don’t have enough time in their day to accomplish everything they want to. The problem is that when we feel like we can’t get everything done we get stressed. And when we get stressed, we become even less productive (not to mention less happy).
Maybe you have looked at other leaders and thought, “How do they get so much more done in the time they have?” It is easy to become envious. Or perhaps you even begin to try to explain away why you aren’t as productive. “Well, their ministry is bigger and so they can afford to hire more staff and that takes the pressure off of them.” Possibly (and I have a solution for that–see #2).
But what if the issue is deeper? What if the battle for your schedule was already determined before you even went to bed the night before?
I think you can reclaim your schedule.
You can feel as if you are taking charge of your day rather than your day taking charge of you.
And it boils down to two simple things.
First, Pastors Should Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I get it. This isn’t rocket science. You already know that a lack of sleep means you feel groggy and will accomplish less the next day. But a lack of sleep is also connected to weight gain, increased stress levels and is directly related to a whole host of other physical ailments. I once heard D.A. Carson remark in a talk that sometimes the most Godly thing you can do is get sleep.
For me, I faced two issues when I was a youth pastor.
First, I felt like I needed to cram in more ministry at night. I tried to get that last minute sermon done or text a student or read the newest ministry book. So I would delay my bedtime til it was far too late.
Second, if I did manage to get into bed on time, I had trouble actually falling asleep. My mind would race through my day and I would second guess conversations I had or I would begin planning for the next day. I have learned that I have to adopt a routine in order to sleep soundly and to get ready for the next day.
Here are three things I don’t do:
Starting around 9 at night, I don’t turn on any electronic devices.
That means I don’t watch TV, get on my phone or computer.
Here’s why: the blue light emitted from these devices prevents you from producing melatonin which helps your body prepare to sleep. Also, if you are on these devices it means you are absorbing content.
Spoiler alert: you don’t want your brain to be taking in new information right before bed if your goal is to unwind.
I also don’t read any non-fiction before bed.
The reason is the same as above–if you are trying to fall asleep, you don’t want to be reading books that provoke you to analyze or project into the future. Your brain will begin making plans or trying to understand all the various nuances of what you’re reading. I will, however, occasionally read a work of fiction. For whatever reason, our brains don’t exert quite as much energy by reading literature.
I don’t use my daily planner to plan for the next day.
I try to get that done earlier in the evening. I have found that if I am trying to sleep, the last thing I need to do is start thinking about the tasks tomorrow. Tomorrow will come soon enough and will have enough worries of its own. Night is my time to kiss today goodbye.
Here is what I do:
I make myself some tea that will knock me out. I am not a tea drinker by nature. But I found this tea that straight knocks me out (thanks to Tim Ferriss who informed me of it). It is called Yogi Bedtime Herbal Caffeine-Free Soothing Caramel Tea. Not only is it the best tasting tea I’ve ever had (it is sweet enough that you don’t need sugar), but it will make you feel like you’ve gone a round with Mr. Dream from Punchout (remember the old NES game? No?).
I try to recap all the important things that occurred and think through how I handled various situations. I then turn the entire day over to God and thank him for it. Many leaders have said that they like reflecting on their day using these questions (and Brendon Burchard recommends using these questions in his planner):
A moment that I really appreciated today was…
A situation or task I handled well today was…
Something I realized or learned today was…
I could have made today even better if I…
Something that could have helped me feel more connected to others today would have been…
If I was my own high performance coach, I would tell myself this statement about today…
I try to darken my room as much as possible.
No light. No nightlight. Total dark.
I try to make sure my room is clean before going to bed.
This way I have created a serene atmosphere that allows me to go right to sleep.
If I am still having trouble falling asleep after this, I try having white noise in the background or some other repetitive relaxing sound.
This admittedly may take some time for your brain to get used to, but it is helpful.
If you are STILL struggling, guided visualizations of beaches can be really helpful as well.
You can find a bunch on Youtube. They help you release some built up stress.
Of course, you can always pray.
I’ve written elsewhere that prayer is a great means of achieving productivity. It knocked out the disciples in Gethsemane and I say, to my shame, that it has put me to sleep numerous times in bed. I like to think it is a form of God’s grace and a blessing of relaxation that occurs as we turn things over to Him.
(As a side note, I think it is totally worth investing in a NICE mattress and pillow for yourself. Consider that you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping. It is worth every penny you spend to get a nice cooling pillow (if you’re a hot sleeper like me) and a mattress that is so soft you’d swear angels had exported it straight from Heaven. They were the best two investments I’ve ever made and every night when I lay down, I have no regrets.)
*Note: Some people swear by melatonin. I try to be fairly careful what I put in my body so I haven’t tried it myself. I have also heard it will totally knock you out and some have expressed that they wake up super groggy. That is a no go for me, chief.*
Second, Pastors can hire a virtual assistant to take care of all that nagging stuff that is sucking up time.
Of course, this is a virtual assistant website so I am going to tell you that. But seriously, that’s our job–to take care of those tasks that are driving you crazy and making you lose sleep.
My team CAN do those tasks and we LIKE doing those tasks.
But here is the real kicker: we have priced ourselves so that YOU CAN AFFORD to hire us.
Even if you hired us for a couple hours a week, imagine how much we could take off your plate. You don’t have to have a big church to get big-time ministry help. So schedule a free consultation right now by clicking the button below.
A 20 minute phone consultation may meanana uninterrupted, restful sleep for you!