Limit Activities – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

December is known in the church world for its unending “ask.” Every ministry needs tech help for their parties or events. As a people pleaser and overall nice guy, this is the season I tend to see everyone but my own family. Being busy this time of year is expected, but it shouldn’t kill you. There are givens: Christmas Eve services will happen, rehearsals will take place, and there may be a party or two you need to attend. The key, though, is moderation – you only have a finite amount of time, and if you’re dead before Christmas you’re no good to anyone. Most churches do not have a large staff body, most of you reading this post right now are probably the only tech on staff or you’re the go-to volunteer. Things like video creation, choir media (making CD’s or uploading to the web) and stage setup all fall to you before you even get to the actual services. I have been there, and am still there in many respects.

tangled-christmas-lights_2
“Little knot here, you can work on that.”

Here are three ideas to limit the Christmas Chaos:

Empower some volunteers for the season: I always envision myself deputizing several key members of my team to help reduce the overall burden. Allow these key people to run with the Christmas activities that happen around the building.

Plan early: We all know Christmas is coming as it does every year, right around the 25th of December. Get yourself a big calendar for the wall. Start blocking off known dates, like rehearsals and services. This will help give you a bigger picture of what you can realistically take on. I realize for most of us, a vacation is out of the question during this season, but plan time off. Even if it’s just an afternoon, you need time to recoup your energy. In a 1926 interview, Henry Ford discussed his experiments with productivity … his conclusion was that after 40 hours of work, the employees’ quality of work diminishes (Read more about Diminishing Returns Here). A long lunch, a quick nap, or just going for a walk can help clear the mind and refresh you.

Practice saying no: This is so hard for me. I hate the word NO. Internally, I feel like it leads to people looking at me like I’m an ogre. I know, though, that I don’t have to be seen as a jerk for letting people know I cannot take on another project. It not only protects me from burning out, it protects others from getting a shoddy product. If I can’t put adequate time, resources, or brainpower into something in order to do it right, then I have to say no. Practice saying it in the mirror, it won’t help but it might at least make you laugh.

As Christmas approaches, try seeking out those key decision makers that haven’t gotten with you yet. Let them know that you’re planning ahead and need to know what they’ll require during the holiday season. Anything you can do to avoid the last minute asks will greatly help.

What’s the biggest last minute task you’ve ever been given?

 

Don’t be Stupid – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

Why are new updates so tempting? With new fixes and features added, you can just feel them calling to you to install them. That may be one of the things I now miss with the new Mac OS Mavericks. It just installs them for you. I don’t get to see what is changing. Well with so much digital equipment in the church these days, it seems like a full time job just keeping things up  to date. However, there is a good time and a bad time to install these.

Last Christmas season, while tuning our wireless microphones, I noticed there was a firmware update for the receivers. The temptation was too great, and I began installing. The first 6 units went just fine. Then it happened. I bricked the seventh wireless. If you’re not sure what that means, its a term for when a piece of electronic equipment gets misconfigured or damaged from an update and it no longer functions. It’s basically a brick to you. Yep, I did it: I bricked the unit and had to send it back to the manufacturer for repair. img_2316

Now I was not wrong in installing updates, and the problem that occurred could have happened to anyone at anytime. But I was stupid to do it at our busiest season when the microphones were functioning just fine. Sometimes though you have no choice, as in the case with a few video recorders we own at Northview. These units had a bug in them, and we had to install the update in order to use them effectively in our system. That was a risk worth taking because they were no good to us the way they were. img_2186

Technology will fail, and cause you headaches at the most inconvenient times, like these pictures of our backscreen with a giant 80’x30′ blue screen of death showing on it (thank you Microsoft). But during this ever important season, don’t tempt the update gods. Do your best to hold off when your schedule allows for proper testing and even time to repair if need be. This post may seem common sense; but as someone who has been in live production as long as I have, I still do stupid things at times, and we could all use a good reminder.

 

Okay, I spilled my guts on the internet, care to join me and share your story?