Last year I had a wonderful opportunity to speak at a close friend of mine’s workplace. I was invited to give a presentation that would be a source of encouragement to a group of financial case managers. The very nature of their work can be quite emotional and stressful as they are caring for the financial needs of those dealing with serious medical issues. The topic I chose was The Gift That Keeps On Giving. I shared with them that “caring” is the gift that keeps on giving and that is exactly what care-givers do.
This year I have been invited to speak again and the topic I will be sharing is: Working Smarter To Alleviate Stress In The Workplace. Preparing for this speaking engagement and writing this week’s post all within the same few days created a bit of stress for me! So, I decided to work smarter myself. This week’s post focuses on relief from stress, not just in the workplace but in life in general.
I am sure most of you have heard the saying that it’s better to work smarter than to work harder. But how many of us are truly willing to admit that we’ve been working harder not smarter … Or maybe not doing either … just kidding.
What does it mean to work smarter anyway? Working smarter means that you have learned to do things like organize your day and your time, set reasonable goals, pace yourself and partition things in your mind.
Pacing yourself is a key element to working smarter. Recently my wife, Amy, shared with me that she doesn’t really mind doing all the things she has to do in a day, and she rattled off a list of about ten things she needed to do. But she went on to say that what she does mind is the pace. She said if you walk five miles or sprint five miles it’s still five miles but the pace of the sprint is exhausting. Whereas the pace of a walk allows you to enjoy all that is around you along the way. We talked about how overwhelming it can feel when we have more to do in a day than we have time for and so we just go-go-go. But believe it or not, this go-go-go pace is not new.
Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So many of us spend a lot of time reacting to our day instead of enjoying it. Planning, prioritizing, and pacing make room for you to enjoy not only your work but your life.
Pacing yourself means taking the time to have lunch and those much needed breaks. These pauses from work allow your brain to rest. You’ll notice that when you return to the task at hand, you’ll be more focused. Have you ever experienced a time when you were working on something and it seem like the harder you worked the worst it got? It seem like you were no closer to a solution then when you first began. Then, someone interrupted your train of thought for a time and all of a sudden you had one of those “Aha-moments” when the solution came to you out of nowhere. When you take breaks you give your brain time to refresh, a time to reboot, if you will. Have you ever had your computer freeze or lock up on you? I have and the first thing I do is re-start it. When you give the computer time to re-boot, it can help it get out of a locked-up situation and recognize newly installed software, upgrades, or new hardware.
Does any of this sound like something you can relate to regarding the benefits of taking those much needed breaks. Often it may be as simple as walking away from your work and clearing your mind for a moment or two. Even Jesus took time to be alone and took a pause in ministry work. There were times that Jesus want to be by himself and then there were times he just wanted to be with his Apostles. The Book of Mark shares such a time. Mark 6:30-32 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.
It is important that you realize how beneficial it is for you to take physical and mental brakes in the course of your day. My encouragement to you is to approach each day with prayer asking God to help you work smarter in all that you have to do. Rather than trying to do everything in your own strength, lean on the strength of The Lord to get you through.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
What advice do you have for working smarter?