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A Youth Worker’s Guide to Productivity

Manage Your Energy

Time management is a myth; it’s our energy that needs managing. If you have a high output of energy night planned, get all the boring admin stuff you need to get done in the morning. If you are in “shopping” mode, make sure and grind it out; get all of it done, don’t hold anything back.
If you need to do your message prep without interruption, don’t plan on getting that done when the everyone is around at your church. You might need to peel off to a coffeeshop with a big ol’ hoodie on.
If you aren’t taking a Sabbath, sis, brah, you need to. And don’t couch your Sabbath in a “Bible study” with your youth kids or a high school road trip. Nope. The Sabbath is for you to recharge.

Check your Health

We might not have the healthiest snacks and food choices at our events. If need be, pack a lunch and dinner. Stick a mini fridge somewhere and have better choices. A diet of Papa Johns and Mt. Dew sounds fun, but when you are sitting in your doctor’s office in your 30s, you’ll be paying hard for those choices. Get some regular exercise in; join and master a gym. Join a Crossfit gym in your neighborhood. (Personally, I’m a fan of the keto diet and a steady regiment of kettlebells.)

Put Your Head Against the Pillow—Now

Look. I get the late nights. I get the report that is due to the Elders in the morning, but you literally can’t function without sleep and you need to get the best around. Get a better mattress. Get blackout curtains and stave off caffeine at night. (Unless you have a newborn—I cannot help you. You are in my sincerest prayers.) But we ignore sleep and then we wonder why we are making terrible decisions.

Have Good Friends

How does having good friends help you with productivity? Here’s why: because friends help you clarify your decisions; they are a source of encouragement and give you wisdom. And I mean actual adult friends who work outside of the church. As someone in his mid-forties, I have seen it time and time again; people burnout from the church, make a terrible, irrevocable decision and lo and behold, they never had a friend to hang out with, to give them counsel and to keep them out of the immoral quagmire that so many people fall victim to. Keep in contact with these friends regularly—phone, email, but better yet coffee. A regular coffee time. It will reap you benefits you can only get a year, three years or five years down the line.

By getting a hold of your productivity and managing you energy, you can serve better and stronger; your work will be joyful and your burden, actually light.


Ryan McRae is the creator of the [ADHD NERD], a blog dedicated to helping the terminally distracted be more focused, productive and successful. He wrote a little manual about the Three Best Apps for Getting Your Focus Back.

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