How the Zeigarnik Effect can help you battle procrastination

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We all have those tasks on our to do list that we just can set ourselves to do. Sometimes it’s because we don’t like doing this (for me, making phone calls is a biggie since for some reason I really dislike calling people), sometimes it’s because the task is so big we just don’t know where to start or it may be that we wonder how we’re ever going to finish it.

Whatever the task is that you dread doing, chances are it will results in big time procrastination. So how do you get yourself to do the things you dread, especially if they are bigger tasks that require more time?

The solution is as simple as can be: just start. If you just take that first step, the rest won’t be as hard.

Believe me, I realize how stupid this sounds, but hear me out. In psychology, there’s a phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik effect, named after psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik who first studied it. She noticed that a waiter had better recollections of still unpaid orders and did further research. The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

It seems that as humans, we are designed for closure, we have a built-in desire to finish what we have started. If we don’t finish a task we’ve started, we experience dissonance and we keep thinking about that task.

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Stress management in youth ministry

stress

This is the fourth and last post in a short series in dealing with stress in youth ministry. We’ve been talking about the stress that is youth ministry and why youth ministry may even be extra stressful compared to other jobs. In the last post we’ve discussed how you can acknowledge, recognize and identify the stress in your life and youth ministry. This brings us to the fourth step: preventing stress.

Let me start with the bad news: you’ll never completely eliminate stress from your youth ministry job, whether you’re a volunteer or on staff. Working in a church, working with people and especially young people will always result in some amount of stress. But there are things you can do to keep the stress level acceptable and healthy.

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Preventing stress in youth ministry

stressed man

We’ve been talking about the stress that is youth ministry and why youth ministry may even be extra stressful compared to other jobs. So to summarize: youth ministry is stressful, even more than other jobs. The question that needs an answer is then what we can do about it. Is preventing stress in youth ministry even an option and if so, how do we go about achieving that?

Step 1: Acknowledging stress

Preventing stress in youth ministry isn’t an easy-breezy thing to do. It starts with taking stress seriously and not just saying or thinking that stress is normal or that it’s just part of your job. Yes, a certain amount of stress is normal in youth ministry, but not to the point where it affects your health or makes you consider quitting. So acknowledge what you feel isn’t normal and go from there.

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Why youth ministry is (extra) stressful

stressed

In the previous post on The Stress that is Youth Ministry, we saw some shocking statistics about pastors and stress. But let’s face it: even though the scope of responsibility may differ, being a youth pastor isn’t that different from being a pastor. Especially in bigger churches, leading the youth ministry can be a lot like leading a church. Which means that those statistics may very well be or become a reality for youth pastors as well.

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The stress that is youth ministry

stressed out man

Youth ministry seems to be synonymous with stress. Ask a youth pastor how he or she is doing and the most likely answer will be ‘busy’ or ‘very/extremely/absurdly busy’. Or maybe when they feeling like sharing, they’ll even say ‘stressed’. I have met very youth pastors or youth workers lately who weren’t overworked, busy, and/or stressed to the point where it really wasn’t funny anymore.

See if any of the following sounds familiar to you:

You’re working (far) more hours than you should or have to

You’re experiencing constant stress

You often feel tired, exhausted even

You often feel overwhelmed to the point of either panic or the inability to act at all

You’re experiencing spiritual drought [Read more…]

Creating a weekly schedule that works for you

A realistic weekly schedule will help you find time for God, your family and yourself, including time to rest and relax...

With the start of a new youth ministry season, now is the perfect time to put some energy into creating a weekly schedule that works for you. It’ll help you set priorities, find time for God, your family and yourself and it will help prevent stress and burnout.

Think about last season, how did your weekly schedule work for you? Did you accomplish what you wanted to? Did you indeed have the time for the things that had priority? Was there enough personal time, time with your family, time to rest?

If not, now is the time to make some changes. Here’s how to go about making a weekly schedule that works for you, your situation and your (youth) ministry:

Make a list of your most important roles

Mind you, I didn’t say tasks or activities. I’m talking about roles here, like parent, spouse, youth pastor, small group leader, etc, which is something else entirely. We’ve discussed this in more detail in a previous post. Just write down the most important ones you have.

A realistic weekly schedule will help you find time for God, your family and yourself, including time to rest and relax… (photo: Julio Leandro Irusta)

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Learn to say no with this simple trick

Say no

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. If you are anything like me, you’ve come home more than once after an extremely busy day in your youth ministry and wondered why on earth you can’t seem to say no.

No. Just no.

It’s such a simple word, but  for some reason it doesn’t come easy. Many of us youth leaders could benefit from saying no more often, but why do we have so much trouble learning to say no?

A few years ago I worked fulltime as a manager in a hospital. I had just started and my boss was someone who always gave you more work than you could handle. It meant I had to learn to communicate my boundaries. I had to learn how to say no.

How good are you at saying no?

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Stress in youth ministry: 5 time management related causes

There are several causes for stress in youth ministry and some of them have to do with bad time management

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. I have worked as a manager in a hospital and while that was stressful at times, it was nowhere near as stressful as working in youth ministry. Dealing with stress is unfortunately a skill you’ll need in youth ministry. But from what I’ve seen, there are a few common causes of stress in youth ministry that have to do with bad time management.

Let’s see if you recognize yourself in one of these 5 time management related causes for stress in your youth ministry:

1. Your daily routine sucks

If you don’t build in down-time in your daily routine, you won’t get it. You can’t just tackle each day as it comes, it truly pays of to spend some time designing an ideal week, a perfect daily schedule. Make spending time with God a priority and never, ever compromise this time. Schedule lunch breaks and play-time with your kids if you have them. Plan time with your spouse or with friends. You can’t work all day, everyday, every week. Make down-time part of your routine, otherwise it won’t happen. And yes, that includes taking a Sabbath every week.

There are several causes for stress in youth ministry and some of them have to do with bad time management

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How to keep your day off from getting interrupted by work

Tweet day off

As is customary on Fridays, we do a Question of the week. Today I’m going to go into the issue of keeping your day off, your Sabbath. The actual question was asked in a tweet by British youth worker Dan Crouch a few weeks back and here’s what he tweeted:

I’ve written before on the importance of taking a day off, of keeping a Sabbath. Note that I’m saying a Sabbath, because Sundays are often workdays for youth workers so if that’s the case for you as well, you can pick another day. The key thing is that you have a day a week to not work, to relax and enjoy God’s presence, your family and some down time.

How do you make sure your day off doesn't get interrupted with work, but truly is a day to relax?

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Creating the perfect daily schedule

Are you happy with your current daily schedule?

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. Have you ever had one of those days where the work just seemed to flow out of your hands, where you accomplished more than you’d ever thought possible and where you felt truly satisfied when you called it a day?

A perfect day in youth ministry, it’s rare, but achievable. There will always be things you can’t control, but what you can control is your daily schedule, even in youth ministry with its complete lack of routine. Here’s my advice for creating the perfect daily schedule.

Are you happy with your current daily schedule?

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