Here are four tips for boosting your personal capacity.
From the outside, it looks like I have a lot of jobs. Because of all the responsibilities I have, I am asked one question perhaps more than any other: “How can I increase my personal capacity?”
Before I answer that question, let me start with an important caveat: In all the roles I have, I don’t do them by myself.
I could not do any of them without an exceptional staff at every point that is intimately involved in the details and that I trust deeply. That’s the key to managing multiple priorities: delegating whenever and wherever you can.
Boosting your personal capacity, on the other hand, begins with looking at efficiency and ruthlessly working toward it. I regularly ask myself, How can I do this more efficiently? or How can I get someone else to do this? How can I not do this?
Asking these questions is really the only way that I can survive, and thrive, in my roles. Let me offer four tips for increasing your personal capacity with the hopes you will be able to implement some, if not all, of them.
1. Do What Only You Can Do.
When I started my first church, I did everything. I folded the bulletins and set up the chairs. It took years for me to have teams helping me with many different jobs.
Ask yourself how you can begin to think more in terms of teams. Ephesians 4 says, “And God has given some of his apostles, some of his prophets, some of his evangelists, some of his pastors and teachers to equip God’s people for works of service to the building up of the body of Christ.” One of the calls of a pastor is to equip the congregation.
Practically, this means doing only what you can do. For instance, only I can grow in my own discipleship. Only I can be the husband to Donna. Only I can be the father to my children. Only I can help make better leaders of my team.
Only I can prepare my sermon and preach my sermon. Now, I can have resources to gather those preparations, but at the end of the day, I have to work through, think through, pray through and communicate the text.
Ask yourself, “What are uniquely my roles?”
2. Use Efficiency-Enhancing Technology.
Technology opens all kinds of doors for you to work well with others. Use tools to delegate. Find one that can be used across your different priorities (I use Evernote quite a bit) and that allows you to categorize and prioritize so that you will be able to find things easily.
But please don’t get too consumed with technology. Carve time and space for technology-free time as well, when you can work strategically on projects and interact with your team and others around you.
3. Waste Time With the People You Love.
Everyone needs to waste time, but save your time-wasters for better opportunities. It is true that all of us need to rest and check out of life for a bit—do things that take our minds off of issues that tax us. However, whenever possible, take breaks with people you love. There’s something about proximity to those you care about that can rejuvenate you for the long hours ahead.
4. Plan Better Ahead of Time.
Most of us struggle with planning ahead, maybe because we are leaders and we take things as they come, or maybe because we have a lot coming at us. Find a tool like the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to help you map out things ahead that are important vs. urgent vs. just time killers. It’s important, for example, to plan how to stay out of things that are not urgent and unimportant (unless you’re with your family or doing something to relax).
A final note of encouragement: Don’t despair. If life and work seem overwhelming, take some time to try these tips. Look at your schedule and plan ahead, delegate, take breaks and use tools to help you be more efficient.
Finally, and most importantly, be present with the Lord and with those you love. No amount of work is worth the sacrifice of our relationship with Jesus and those he has placed in our lives. As you try some of these ideas, my prayer is that you will find more margin for these highest priorities.