Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Three Tips for Urban Youth Workers to Slow Down
Posted by: DVULI | March 14, 2023
By Jordan Francis (Phoenix 2018)
Wow! The first quarter of 2023 is flying by.
It can feel like the days are spinning out of control with so many things to balance and juggle. Even as I write this blog, there are about three other tasks I know I need to do, and my mind is encouraging me to do them.
As youth workers in the urban context, we are seldom focused on one thing. We usually juggle multiple hats, not because we want to, but because we must!
How can we do everything we are committed to well and not burn out?
- Time with God
- Side Hustle
The list goes on.
We tend to speed up when we have more to do, but lately, I’ve learned that slowing down is the most effective.
Here are three ways I’m trying to slow down so I can be more productive and intentional.
1) Slower Mornings
If I start the day off at breakneck speed, it never slows down until I am passed out on the couch in the evening, drooling on myself. If I begin the morning at a slower pace, the day doesn’t feel so overwhelming, and I can accomplish tasks and still be present with myself and others. I’ve found that it helps when I don’t immediately pick up my phone and check notifications but rather go to the living area of our home, enjoy the silence, and read.
I have three rough scallions (kids), so I must do this before or after they head out for school.
2) Plan Your Day
I want to preface this by saying I have never liked organization. I am an idea person, and I love being swept up in the moment with people and dreaming about the future. But having a plan for the day has been a game changer for me.
I recognize some of you will read this blog and think, “This dude doesn’t plan his days?!” That’s right, and there are many more people like me, so find us and encourage us!
I’ve been guilty on many occasions of trying to accomplish too much in one day. Those days often end in discouragement and shame. That’s because I was not planning; I was just creating a list and trying to be superman.
A viable plan for each day is one of the best gifts you can give yourself on the path to productivity and effectiveness. The plan you create for the day should allow you to debrief yourself at the end of the day and determine if you tried to do too much or too little. So far, I have found that block scheduling is most effective for this.
Keeping track of this over time will help you discover when you are most effective at various kinds of work (i.e., ideation, creative writing, people, prayer, etc.). Then you can create a schedule that is optimal for effectiveness in your scope of work.
3) Boredom at Night
With every TV show under the sun available through online streaming and the endless number of videos I can watch through “reels” on every major social media platform, I can keep myself entertained forever.
That is the problem. We never want to be bored, but boredom is the playground of creativity. When you were bored as a kid, your imagination kicked in, and you made games out of everything. Boredom can help us solve problems in our communities and create mechanisms of lasting systemic change. Boredom is not our enemy; it is our friend.
At night we are working on moving away from filling the space with watching TV and devices, creating some prime space for boredom to set in.
I know all of us are in this for the long haul. That means we must build ways of being and doing that scale for the long haul.
These are just some ways I am trying to grow for sustainability and longevity. I hope this inspires you to consider what this may look like for you.