Episode 14: 3 Hacks for Creatives In Children's Ministry
Children’s ministry requires an ultra organized person’s touch with a creative individual’s mindset. These skill sets may seem to be at odds with each other. And you would be correct— if you went along with the assumption that people are unable to learn new skills and adapt. I fall in the category of being a creative existing in children’s ministry. For me, this means that I like working from Starbucks more than in the office. I enjoy prop rooms more than spreadsheets. Details about the route small groups will take during VBS bore me, while the set design excites me. However, I am acutely aware of this fact: The difference between an amateur and a professional is that amateurs work when they feel like; it while professionals work regardless of their feelings.
For years, I could only do “office work” when I had a sudden inspiration to do so. The problem occurred when I would go weeks without having said inspiration. Receipts would go missing, emails would pile up, and I had dreamed and planned myself into a corner. Dreams are like whipped cream…. sweet, good, and worthless without pumpkin pie to go with them. I was regularly putting myself into a hole because I forgot to execute. Execution takes working through receipts and VBS small group route planning. Here are three hacks to help you if you are like me.
Hard Stops Save Lives
One of the mistakes I made early on happened when I believed sitting at my desk for several hours working through all of the emails and sensitive documents mattered. It actually made the decision to procrastinate even easier because I simply “couldn’t find the time.” I needed to carve out hours to do all of that work and so I would put it off. Then, I went through a period of time when I had so many things to do that I was forced to sit and do them. About forty-five minutes into that session, I realized that if I created a half-hour to an hour block once or twice per week with a hard stop; all of the things that needed done could fit into those time slots. However, I controlled when they were over.
For a creative, being told to sit and work with numbers and details is comparable to the worst day ever. Therefore, I have Monday afternoons from 3-4pm blocked off to do anything that has to do with receipts, paperwork, or spreadsheets. This means that I can make a list all week of the important documents and files that needed attention during that time.
2. Plan R&D Time
On the flip side of this whole equation, planning out time to be creative is also crucial to success. There may be some individuals out there who can be creative on demand. However, I know that even my creative sessions need time to be prepped. I plan two different types of time during the week to be creative. The first time is my research time. This is when I research statistics, look up YouTube videos to see how other folks have done what I am attempting to do, and also time to mind map and think about ideas. This is incredibly important to the creative process for me. If I do not spend time researching, I begin the development time flat-footed and not able to fully engage with execution.
The second time I schedule out for creativity is the development session. This is when I write, video, draw, color, record, and work on projects. This is my time to channel my inner Leonardo Da Vinci, or Jimmi Hendrix. I live for this part of my week. I go into this time with all of the instruments that I need laid out, cleaned, and ready to help me create a new project. That means that I have done the research, read books, purchased supplies, and have asked the questions I needed to have answered for the process to run smoothly. The canvas is empty and I make sure that I have planned a start and stop time. This helps me know that I can’t go into a creative vortex and never come back out again. My boss likes me much better when I do this and I am more productive as well.
3. Nappachino’s Save Lives
Daniel Pink writes in his book, “When,” about the concept of a “nappachino.” This idea comes from the desire to take a nap in the middle of the work day. He talks about the different time periods during the day and how to maximize them. One of the major takeaways I received from the book was taking a nap when I come home from work. But I do it differently. He sites a fact that it takes caffeine between 22-25 minutes for caffeine to hit the bloodstream. Because of that, he suggests drinking a cup of coffee, or tea and then taking a half-hour nap. The science behind it suggests that when a person wakes up, they are hit by a pick-me-up of caffeine. This jumpstarts the whole system!
I have been doing this for the past six months almost everyday and it works miracles. I wake up with a clear mind; ready to work. I do my best work after 8PM and so for me, this works wonders. As a creative, I need to have a planned time to shut my brain down and rest. When I am at my best during the week; I am working these three hacks into my schedule. My productivity increases. Stress decreases. And I am able to work harder, longer, and I bring my best content to the surface.
I would love to hear from you about what other hacks you have for creatives to maximize work time. Subscribe to the blog to never miss another one of the posts. An audio version of this post is available below if you would prefer to listen instead of read!