6 Things To Make You More Effective Than Ever

James Preston Reply 3:18 PM
In mid October, I stared down the barrel of November fully aware of what pain it was going to inflict on me. And I mean pretty much "fully aware". And yet I sit here on Monday the 1st day of December wishing I changed something. What the heck, James?!

I know. It's that human nature thing. I've already said "no" more times this year than I ever have in my entire life, indicating not only how far I've come but also the increased demands on my life. But I'm still not saying "no" enough.

While the advice is ubiquitous these days, there's nothing like experience to make it real: Saying "NO" truly is one of the most liberating things in you can do. But it's tough when you're a pastor. "Pastors" are meant to lay their lives down for others. Be in constant service toward others. Etc. So it requires even more balls and maturity to say "no".

But I can personally vouch for its power. I have said "no" a lot this year. And this month specifically, knowing that by doing so I have let people down, something I absolutely hate. But I can tell you, each time I've said "no" (in a nice way of course) I have felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Knowing I have one less weight to worry about as I tackle the rest of what is in front of me.

And despite all this, I still just had the busiest weekend of my life. And I know why: I didn't focus hard enough. I didn't plan my week well enough. I wasn't disciplined enough with the planning I did do. And I didn't factor in how painful falling off a water tube at 55km/h and wake-boarding would be. (True story - amidst my crazy weekend of performing and writing and preaching and parenting I went to my bro in law's bachelor's and, while loving every minute of it, am still feeling the pain today! Haha). I also didn't factor a few other things. And this is the key: Factoring as many possibilities as you possibly can think of. I am finding more and more this is a key to effective target-hitting.

So that list again...

  1. Say "no" to more things than usual
  2. Focus on your tasks at hand for each week
  3. Plan your week well
  4. Stay disciplined to get through your plans and tasks
  5. Factor the consequences of your future choices and actions.
  6. Don't fall off a water tube at 55km/h headfirst
I have 2 businesses to run, a book to write, and 11 20-min videos to record. But I am stopping today. I am taking the time to be with my family. And rest my body and mind. If I don't, I might not make 30.


Oh... and by the way... Do me a favour and click "vote" on the right for me in the Education and Spirituality categories of the SA Blog Awards. I'd super appreciated it. :)

And for the rest of this Blog Post... enjoy some great images and thoughts on the topic of effectiveness... I specifically love the "effectiveness equation". That just so resonates with me. I have way too many desires! And not enough time to achieve them all! I would be so much more effective if I just actually spent the time doing just a few of them! Wake up, James. Wake up.

The dog one is just randomly funny! ;)

My Book-Writing Journey So Far

James Preston Reply 7:52 AM
The Book Cover!
November has been a tough month. There have been way too many things on the go. In church-life it seems that all the events get planned for November, and in business you carry the pressure knowing that if you don't sell now you won't until mid-January again (if you're lucky). Plus countless other pressures like saying yes to a big part in our annual church play! (Why James? WHY?!)

And on top of all this, the culmination of my first book lands on the month of November.

How did I get here?

Well, I finally realised I need a deadline, especially for Christmas, but more so before the release of the End-Time madness movie "Left Behind" starring Nicholas Cage.

I had the vision to put together an article/essay on the End Times way back in April this year. On top of 2 other goals. But the primary goal was to get the End Times article published. Like I so often do, I thought it would be as simple as sitting in front of my computer for a few days and conveying what was in my heart. And like so often is the case I was wrong.

With a real-life troll antagonising me with his view on the End Times after every church service, I realised my article better have some solid theological and scholarly backing or else it wouldn't hold much weight. So the article was put on hold as I bought myself some of the most pertinent End Time books I could find (on recommendation of some scholar friends) and studied up. Fortunately, as I have mentioned in my video series so far, I was delighted to find much of what I believed was confirmed in historical theology anyway.

Come the end of July this year, I had pored through these books extensively, and felt confident to get writing. Which I did.

Writing an article of this nature was never going to be as simple as writing a good Blog Post or even some of the other articles or booklets I have written for church study. I knew it was going to take careful planning.

Adjusting the Plan

My problem was, I didn't realise just how much time I needed to give it.

My plan was to wake up early, before Joel's standard 6am wake-up time, for a few days in a row, and give myself about 90-120 mins at a time depending on Joel's wake up. As with all kids, planning around them is never concrete. Many mornings he was up at 5:30 while I was in the middle of a good flow. To get around this I called for backup, and asked Corinne to handle morning shift while I shot to the office nice and early (4:30am most times) to give myself a good run of writing while the office was dead quiet.

I've only done this four times to date, though. Which I thought would be enough by now, to be honest!

After 2 weeks of this extensive, early-morning writing everyday, I was only 20 pages in, and realised this was no article. As I kept writing, I realised there was very little chance this was going to be an article. I was 20 pages in, and wasn't even half way there. This was a book.

(As you can see in the screenshot below, I started writing in Google Docs. But as this became a book, I had to move over to Apple Pages for its better publishing standards.)

My vision and my desire was that my first book was to be around mankind's purpose on earth, and get writing by about February 2015 for it. Life has a way of changing plans. Turns out, my first book will be about the End Times.

Now that this article had become a book, I realised I had better brush up on my Scriptural knowledge of the End Times (apocalyptic Scripture) and reread the important books and passages. This included reading all of Daniel, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Revelation, Matthew 24, Ezekiel 37-40 and Romans 8, so you can imagine that was another month delay. By now, it was mid-October.

The plan, though, was always to start recording the End Time video series in November. And I had written 20 pages, and it was mid-October. And business needed focus, church was getting busier, life was hectic!

What did I do? I adapted.

Make Time and Use What You Have

I found time. In the midst of this busyness, I realised I couldn't do 4:30ams too much. And Corinne needed me at home in the mornings, so the office plan wasn't going to happen much. So I just found time where I could, that worked for Corinne, Joel and our lives.

I never want to sacrifice family time for personal pet projects, especially during a busy season. Well, not too much family time anyway. Of course there would be some family time that would get eaten into, but I tried to keep this to a minimum.

So instead I had to sacrifice other things. Saturday mornings. Blogging. Weekend mid-day naps.

And here I am. In the middle of November, 2 video sessions recorded, a book title, a book cover, and only half a book!

That's right! Only half a book! It hasn't been nearly enough time to finish authoring what is on my heart.

So, the careful planning and adapting will have to continue for the next 3 weeks or so in order to get this project finished!

Ideally, I would love to get away somewhere quiet for 3 or 4 days to focus and finish. But realistically that can't happen right now. I have to use what I have.

And that's what this Blog Post has been about. Just to give you an insight into my journey so far. And hopefully give you some food for thought if you find yourself with a similar personal project to tackle.

I can't wait for this book and series to be available! I hope it will be an asset to people all over the world questioning what is really happening in the world today, especially in light of the Good News.

My hope is that this study would provide just that: HOPE. Because that's what being a child of God is all about... living with seemingly unreasonable HOPE!

This Blogger Now Accepts BitCoin!

James Preston Reply 3:29 PM
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