Under a onslaught of varied tasks and requests, have your ever felt overwhelmed? A term has been coined to convey the widespread condition: Burnout.

Wikipedia describes it as follows: "Problems related to life-management difficulty".

Further, the Maslach Burnout Inventory uses a three dimensional description of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.

My latest read has been a book entitled: The Principle of Relevance, by Stefania Lucchetti. Here is what I have been able to glean from the book - making quick sense of information and experiences is a learned skill. Properly organizing everything into thoughts is what changes things from chaos to clarity. It is only when clarity comes that stress is reduced. Makes sense to me.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Unless a person knows how to give order to his or her thoughts, attention will be attracted to what is most problematic at the moment: thoughts or memories linked to strong emotions, external sources of information, inputs and requests.

Without training, and without an object in the external world that demands attention, people are unable to focus their thoughts for more than a few minutes at a time. This leads to a sense of self-condemnation to notice and process irrelevant stimuli, to attend to everything at once and, as a result, not attend to anything at all.

The five main points towards clarity are these:

  • The clarity of purpose - This defines what something is about.
  • Situational awareness - Taking in data and excluding the unimportant.
  • Pattern discernment - Has this been experienced before?
  • Attention - Awareness of specific input.
  • Self-Knowledge - Working within your own limitations.

Possibly you are one receives inspiration by what others are reading. If that is the case, I'll let you look over my shoulder and see what engages me at present.

The first three books are what I read in August. The last three are what I have started and presently hold my attention.

Getting things done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen
Idea Mann: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft, Paul Allen
The Art of Non-Conformity,Chris Guillebeau
This Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napolean's great Army, Stephan Talty
The Principle of Relevance, Stefania Lucchetti
You might be a Zombie. (Don't know if I can finish this one, the language is pretty foul. But the content is funny.)
Talk Less, Say more, Connie Dieken

readingLeaders are readers.

That is an axiom that has proven tricky for me. As areas of responsibity grow and the amount of tasks increase, carving out time is one of those balancing acts. Only recently have I been able to get back to a steady diet of new material.

One article I recently found contained tips on how to get more out of reading. The author is Karol Krol and there are some really worthwhile thoughts contained in the article.

Here are the main points:

  1. Don't repeat
  2. Read with your finger.
  3. Focus
  4. The third word rule
  5. Don't read every word separately
  6. Don't skip back
  7. Start too fast

You probably will want to flesh out those thoughts, so here is the link:

7 Speed Reading Tricks by a Former Book-Hater
Written by: Karol Krol

Attempting to keep all the "big rocks" and the little items into a squeezed time planner, getting a great overview is a necessity. Taking those things off my mind and into print keeps the mind fresh. Although everyone will need to find what works best for them - mine are electronic. The reason for that is the accessibility by a personal assistant, plus my spouse. Entering that one time will automatically update everyone's calendars.

iPadAdditionally, changes to the people's cellphones, email addresses, addresses, etc is so frequent, paper and pen are simply ineffective for me. Having databases allows me to update one and all the gadgets are tied to the one update. No matter where it is entered, the other gadgets are up-to-date.

Here are the tools that aid my work flow.


In order to maintain an overview of upcoming tasks, I have adopted the Getting Things Done (gtd) approach. It is a system that requires you to make a decision up front as to how it will be handled. A question is posed: Does this require action? If not, it is either trash, it will someday require action, or it is reference material never requiring action.

If it does require action, then the question is posed: can it be done in under 2 minutes, will it be delegated, or is it future action? Those actions are then sorted into categories or their project classification. once you get the swing of it, it is not nearly as formidable as it sounds.

That system has two wings: a calendar and an ability to access written documents.

First, written documents.

1. Evernote : free : searchable written documents access anywhere you access your files. Evernote is a password protected system that allows you to store documents and transfer the information between a variety of formats. You even have the ability to share documents with others.

2. Tap2ever free : free : a quick way to type Evernote documents.

3. Awesome note hd : commercial : a document system that allows you to sync with Evernote.

Those systems utilize tags, which keep documents grouped together for easy access. No need to tag words in the document, this will automatically be searchable. Handwritten documents are also searchable, when submitted by a selection of programs.

I find these helpful on my iPad, and everything is automatically synced onto my PC. Traveling just became simpler because I do not have to carry every project on a USB stick in order to have access.

4. Pocket information hd
: commercial

Tasks and events are placed on a calendar. Every calendar software has that ability. This is separated from the rest in that every todo action is tagged, placed in a project, and can carry a customizable context. Tasks requiring attention someday, but without a definite date, are carried forward. Repeatable tasks - taxes, time sensitive reports, meetings - are all carried forward. Tasks and events are also convertible for calendar usage.
One note here: my calendar is synced with google calendar, allowing both my wife and my personal assistant to have access and overview. They have the ability to enter information and monitor workload, when others ask for FaceTime. It aids tremendously in internal communication.

For a price tag of under $50, you owe it to yourself to get resources that will free you to do your job better.

What tool(s) have you implemented that aided your administrative workflow?
What tips have helped you the most in your growing responsibility?

One of the things that will shape or even determine the scope of your ministry will be what John Maxwell calls 'the Law of the Lid.' In other words, if you stop growing personally, so will the ultimately capacity of your impact. The good news is that there are resources available to assist you in your ability and skill set.

One of the areas in which you will find an ever increasing requirement is the amount of attention required by your ministry areas. A cross cultural church-planter will administrate agency reports, supporter communication, calendar and date booking, brainstorming and planning events, church(es) administration, governmental requirements, study and preparation paperwork, family duties. And these are just a few of the big ticket areas.

Irregardless of a person's ability to multitask or delegate, it is essential to expand present capacity, in order to prevent personal burnout, ministry bottleneck, frustration in co-workers and family.

Every administrator should adopt a smart organizational system, because of at least six critical reasons.

1. Redundant items should be templates
Any tasks that is repeated in the future is a strong candidate for a template or form. Do you have a meeting with key leaders? Then a list of departments and leaders can be listed as bullet points ready for copy into your new document.
Do you blog? Then map out the flow that you follow as a guideline.
Videographer? Some form of storyboard map will help you design your shoots before arriving on scene, plus allow you to track your footage once at the edit bay.
Explain baptism, pre-marital counseling, discipleship theme repeatedly? These all areas to consider creating a template, whether it be in printed form, mp3, downloadable video or a Facebook message.

2. Get it off your mind.
A short pencil is better than a long memory. I heard that a long time ago and it still makes perfect sense.
The author David Allen is one of the gurus of time management: getting things done. That work is a standard and available in print, kindle, or audio books. His main message is short and simple:
Move towards a system. Doing so frees up your mind, because you no longer carry all the tasks that you need to accomplish in you memory. You will constantly free up RAM memory. And that is a good thing.

3. Clarity in direction comes from precise articulation.
I am repeatedly asked if I am a lone ranger type person. The only good answer that I know for that question is this - the job description precludes being a lone ranger. In an expanding ministry it is all about team ministry.
You will need some way to communicate effectively to the team and co-workers. If they do not receive accurate and trustworthy information, they cannot be expected to be 'in formation.' Your system aids precise articulation, therefore aiding direction towards your vision.

4. A system is transferable.
Let's think of the unthinkable. What would happen to your family or ministry, if you are incapacitated in some tragic way? Would the decision makers have access to the information in your head? Get that stuff on paper, if for no other reason than protecting the ones you love.

5. Prioritizing
Everyone will say 'no' to something or someone. Are you in control of that decision, or are emergencies and urgencies controlling your life?

6. Your mind is freed from the tyranny of forgetfulness.
It is true freedom not to have to remember everything, but know that you have the assurance of a safety net. That is the benefit of a system.

Tomorrow, I deal with resources that I am presently implementing to aid in streamlining administrative tasks.