How to Save Time for the Most Important People in Life

The past few weeks have been extremely busy around here. I have noticed there are two directions that people move in life. I think 95% of people have a tendency to drift towards one way more than the other in the majority of situations in life. The two drifts are towards tasks or work and a drift towards people or relationships. Most people fall into one of these drifts, and they move quickly toward them in seasons of life when they do not live intentionally. I am a person who naturally drifts towards people or relationships. If I am not intentional with my schedule, a lot of my "task" time will get replaced with "people" time. This has been and will always be true about me. It is sometimes my best attribute and sometimes my worse enemy. A New Problem

The past month my job has been very busy. Although the main part of my job is people, it still fits more in the "work" side of the two drifts. Most of my life has been lived compensating for the fact that I drift away from work, especially when I am not intentional with my time. Because of this, I normally don't have to intentionally think about spending time with the most important people in my life. This past month that changed. One day I was sitting down working on office stuff, and began to recap my time at home with my wife the past few weeks. As I began to evaluate it, I realized that during my busy schedule I had neglected to save time and energy for my wife at the end of the day. I realized that when I got home most days, I was exhausted and chose to "check out", get on my phone, or watch TV instead of engage in conversation with my wife. She was a trooper and showed me a lot of grace in this season, because she knew that I was physically and mentally exhausted. After realizing my lack of engaging with my wife, I decided I had a few things I needed to do: 1. Acknowledge my failure to intentionally plan for her 2. Begin to evaluate how this happened 3. Set up some boundaries at work to prevent this from happening again

1. Apologize to the People in Your Life You've Neglected

This is the hardest thing to do, but it's the first thing you have to do. I had to take some time and tell my wife I was sorry. When you apologize make sure your specific. I had to apologize for being on my phone to much, for checking my email instead of talking, and for not saving mental and emotional energy for the end of the day. Take some time and evaluate where you have neglected the important people in your life, whether it is your wife, kids, parents, friends, etc... Once you have evaluated who you have neglected, take some time and evaluate how you have neglected them. Once you have decided that, take some time to personally apologize for each of those. Don't just say, "I'm sorry I haven't talked to you" say "I'm sorry I chose work, TV, and Twitter over you." Be specific. It will show that you really have thought through it. It will speak volumes to the people in your life when they realize you were humble enough to admit the truth about what you have chosen over them.

2. Evaluate How This Happened

Go back and think though your schedule. Make notes on what season of work you are in. If it is a busy season make a note of that, so next time you can know that in the busy season this might be a tendency of yours. Ask the people you feel like you've neglected what they think? When did they notice it? Did they try to make you aware of it? Were you humble enough to listen to them? Did you have time scheduled to be intentional with them or did you think it would "just happen"?

3. Establish Boundaries to Guard Against it Happening Again

This is the most important step. I think two things need to be said before we get to far into this: 1. It will happen again, and your people need to give you grace 2. If you don't have boundaries in place, the people you neglect will begin to question whether you really care. With that being said, you have to evaluate your schedule and decide what you are going to say no too. It may be scaling back on appointments or tasks you schedule each week. It may take saying no to "free time" that you have scheduled. It might mean waking up a little earlier and using that time to create margin. There are a lot of suggestions that can help you save time for your loved ones. I think the main two things you need to do is schedule specific time that you spend with them, and making sure that you stick to your schedule! So many people wonder why they never have spare time or why they are always "busy." I think this is mostly because people never take the time to make a schedule for each week, and to think through their "to do list" and put times in their schedule to take care of those problems.

I hope that the people who feel neglected will show their families grace, and allow them space to figure out how to fix their schedule to have this time. I hope that the people that are neglecting friends, families, or other important relationships will take note and begin to make changes in their life, so that they can begin to reverse this pattern!

What are some ways you have neglected the important people in life? How have you been able to fix that? Share in the comments below. 

3 Quick Tips on Thriving During the Busy Seasons of Work and Life

It is move in week here at Sam Houston St. This means that for the next 2-3 weeks we will be working around the clock to meet new students and reconnect with returning students. By the end of this welcome week season we will have worked around 20 straight days and have hosted an event almost every day. This time last week I began to feel that sense of being 2 steps behind creep in, I began to feel the anxiousness you feel before a big project or a busy season at work or school. As this feeling crept in I thought about being behind and how I wasn't prepared enough for these 2-3 weeks and that it was just going to be a failure. Then towards the end of the meeting my boss said, "Just expect to feel overwhelmed and behind for the next few weeks it is normal". This reminded that no matter how well we prepare for the busy seasons of life there is always going to be this feeling of being behind and overwhelmed. So I wanted to share with a few tips on how to get through these seasons of busyness.

1. Use the two minute rule to get things done I've borrowed this from a couple of other bloggers that I follow and I am sure they got it from some productivity Guru. The rule is: If you can get it done in two minutes or less go ahead and do it. This rule works against my personality. I am a go with the flow leave things open ended kind of guy and when it comes to completing task, I'm not the expert. Therefore, in spite of my dislike for rules like this, the past 7 days I have made it a point to follow this rule. When you get in busy seasons you often think you are too busy to take care of smaller tasks. It feels like if you stop and take the time to complete them that it will put you behind on all the larger, more important tasks. From my experience with trying to implement this rule all week I have found that completing these small tasks as quickly as possible has eliminated a lot of stress and long to do lists, and I have more time and brain power to focus on the larger tasks! Some of these small tasks might include: a quick email response, texting someone a question as soon as you think about it, taking out the trash or other household duties, etc.

2. Make a to do list with the most important tasks at the top This is a strategy that I am continuing to develop and trying to tweak, to best fit my job and life right now. I am pretty good at writing To Do's down but have a tough time remembering to look at my to do list later in the day. One thing that helps me is to put my to do list on my phone. I use evernote but you can use any program that helps you remember your task list for the day. By having a to do list you can focus your attention on a smaller number of items and not be so distracted by all the other options for that day and, by putting the most important tasks at the top of the list your able to focus in even narrower. This allows you to be the most efficient with the little time you do have available. Make a goal this upcoming week to mark 1-3 tasks off your to do list at the end of everyday. Even if it is a smaller task it will help you build momentum and keep you from feeling as overwhelmed. I have found that if I write all my tasks down it makes them seem less intimidating and gives me a feeling of confidence that even in this crazy season I can stay ahead of the game.

3. Don't beat yourself up when you drop the ball I saw a commercial recently with Charles Barkley and the main line was "all the greats have a short memory" At the end you see Scottie Pippen and he says " I was the greatest Chicago Bull of all time" Although we all know this is a commercial and they are acting, I think it makes a great point. You have to have a short memory in life. This is true for success and failure. If you are in the middle of a crazy season and you forget to return a call or to mail an important letter off just let it go. You are human and you have a limited capacity. If your blunder affects your teammates or spouse apologize to them and admit your failure. After you apologize do your best to reconcile the task and then move on. If you sit around all day thinking about how you messed up and that you are behind in life you will only fall further behind! So today when you forget an email or show up to a meeting and realize you left something at home, apologize, take responsibility, and move on. I think this is one of the hardest things for young leaders to do. We believe that we should have it all together like the old guys and that we have to prove ourselves. We begin to forget that on the cross, Christ proved to the World, that if we have trusted in Him for Salvation, we are a part of His family. If you don't believe in Christ that doesn't apply but still, what does it really matter if your boss or whoever thinks you messed up? You did! Just accept that responsibility and take some time later in the day to come up with a strategy to avoid making the same mistake. If you can develop a short memory and learn to accept responsibility for your shortcomings I believe you will see drastic changes in how you lead your life.

I hope this three tips help you this week or whenever your busy season is, Share in the comments some strategies you have for surviving the busy seasons of life!

3 reasons to find a friend that slows your life down

Have you ever gotten so caught up in life and all your responsibilities that you forgot to slow down? The past six months have been one of the busiest seasons in my short 25 years. The Lord is really stretching me and my capacity. We had a lot of traveling with work and a lot of responsibilities on top of our normal ones. I felt like I did a good job keeping up with things and only let a few responsibilities fall through the cracks. This past week we had a 8hr a day week long class on church history we took through a local seminary. The professor of the class was a pastor that we had prior connections too and that we all knew fairly well. This pastor is one of the people I have met in my life that "slow me down". He doesn't slow you down because he gets in your way or is negative. He slows you down by reminding you why your here. He reminds you of the good things in life and the joy that is resting in Jesus. He reminds you of the Gospel and the truth that you can't earn more righteousness in life. It was such a refreshing week for my soul and my mind. Him reminding me of God,the gospel, and that I am Justified by Faith alone was needed in this season of life.I believe that there are a number of benefits to finding people like this in your life but I wanted to share just a few of them with you today. I hope that by sharing these benefits you will take the time to schedule time with a person that can provide this for your life.

1. It allows you to see the good things God is doing This is very important in life. I think in my job it is even more important because we can get in a rut and continue to focus on the things that need prayer and improvement, or the people that aren't growing in Christ or Don't know Christ. When you get around someone like this pastor you are forced to see the all the good things God has done in your life or ministry. He would just continue to point us to the great things that God had done. He would also constantly remind us of the things that God had done in our life just to get us where we were at. God is not just good when he answers prayers he is good no matter the circumstances. He is good because he made a way for sinless people to be right with him. He not only made this way but he also pursued his people and gave them the desire to turn to Him and repent of their sins.

2. People that make you slow down give you an opportunity to see the people you have been neglecting or looking over. I know when I get busy and rushed I always begin to forget to connect with the people in my life that I'm not running into everyday. I have seen myself have a hard time keeping up with family out of town, friends that I might not see as much because it is summer, people at church, and many others. When I have encounters with people in life that slow me down they also push me to connect with people in my life that I have neglected. When you hear about their life and how they have recently heard from an old friend or spend some time with family it reminds you that those are the things in life that truly matter.

3. People that make you slow down allow you to realize you and your to do list aren't that big of a deal. We all tend to get way to caught up in ourselves and our to do list and begin to believe that we are a big deal. When you spend time whether it is a day or two or just an hour or two with someone that slow you down you begin to see the grandness of life and how small you and your to do list are. They tend to point you towards God and how big He is and how God has set up life for us as Christians to make a big deal about Him and His Glory. Our tendency in life is to begin to focus on ourselves and our to do list and the glory it can bring us as opposed to how we can use it to bring glory to God.

If your life is overwhelming busy and it feels like you have become the biggest deal in your life I challenge you to find someone in your life that will slow you down. I challenge you to find someone in your life that will allow you to slow down and smell the roses. Find someone that will evaluate your life and circumstances and give you a realistic view of your life and to do list. If you don't take the time to do this, I'm afraid it will lead to you burnout and just a miserable life in general.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.- Advice from a Navy Seal

I found this speech on art of manliness. For future reference this might be a good speech to convince your children of making their bed!

The following commencement address was given last week to the graduates of the University of Texas by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven. McRaven is the commander of U.S. Special Operations and oversaw the mission that killed Osama bin Laden

Click below to read the speech.

President Powers, Provost Fenves, Deans, members of the faculty, family and friends and most importantly, the class of 2014. Congratulations on your achievement. It’s been almost 37 years to the day that I graduated from UT. I remember a lot of things about that day. I remember I had throbbing headache from a party the night before. I remember I had a serious girlfriend, whom I later married — that’s important to remember by the way — and I remember that I was getting commissioned in the Navy that day. But of all the things I remember, I don’t have a clue who the commencement speaker was that evening and I certainly don’t remember anything they said. So…acknowledging that fact — if I can’t make this commencement speech memorable — I will at least try to make it short. The University’s slogan is, “What starts here changes the world.” I have to admit – I kinda like it. “What starts here changes the world.” Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT. That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their life time. That’s a lot of folks. But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people – and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people — just ten — then in five generations — 125 years — the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people. 800 million people — think of it — over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world — 8 billion people. If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people — change their lives forever — you’re wrong. I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush. In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers. But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn – were also saved. And their children’s children — were saved. Generations were saved by one decision — by one person. But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it. So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is…what will the world look like after you change it? Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world. And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward — changing ourselves and the world around us — will apply equally to all. I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California. Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable. It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL. But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships. To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months. So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — rack — that’s Navy talk for bed. It was a simple task – mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs – but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.  If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.  If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students – three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast. In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach. For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle. You can’t change the world alone — you will need some help – and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each. I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys — the munchkin crew we called them – no one was over about 5-foot-five. The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west. They out paddled, out-ran, and out-swam all the other boat crews. The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim. But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh – swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us. SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges. But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle — it just wasn’t good enough. The instructors would fine “something” wrong. For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy. There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right — it was unappreciated. Those students didn’t make it through training. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform. Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events – long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to — a “circus.” A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics — designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue – and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult – and more circuses were likely. But at some time during SEAL training, everyone — everyone – made the circus list.  But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Overtime those students — who did two hours of extra calisthenics – got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength — built physical resiliency. Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses. At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a ten-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few. But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope. You had to climb the three-tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end. The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life – head first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward. It was a dangerous move – seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation – the student slid down the rope – perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first. During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego. The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim. Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark — at least not recently. But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you — then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away. There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them. So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks. As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training. The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles — underwater – using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target. During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you. But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight – it blocks the surrounding street lamps – it blocks all ambient light. To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel — the centerline and the deepest part of the ship. This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship — where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail. Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission – is the time when you must be calm, composed — when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bare. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment. The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats — the Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues — a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you. It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors. As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit — just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold. Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over 8 hours till the sun came up – eight more hours of bone chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything – and then, one voice began to echo through the night — one voice raised in song. The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiastic. One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing. We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing — but the singing persisted. And somehow – the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away. If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person — Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandella and even a young girl from Pakistan — Mallah — one person can change the world by giving people hope. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell. To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world — for the better. It will not be easy. But, YOU are the class of 2014 — the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century. Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and — what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better. Thank you very much. Hook ‘em horns.