Just Say No

Your Packed Schedule

You are a busy person. That just seems to be the way it is in the culture we’re living and breathing in. I’ll even bet you’re busier than you even realize, and that your job creeps into parts of your day that used to be sacred. We have email, meetings, email, packed work schedules, email, kids’ schedules, email, and then you have to try to figure out when to work out, do your hobbies, or just get away for a breather. This, my friends, is all too much.

As I’ve tried to diagnose the problem more clearly, I realized that it comes down to how easy it is for people to have direct access to you at all times. The barrier to entry is just so low. It used to be that a person had to wait until you were near a phone (the kind that was attached to the wall with a cord), write you a letter, or find a way to see you face-to-face in order to gain your attention.

Now, all it takes is a text, a tweet, Slack, an email, or a Facebook message, and you’re working on a project that you had no clue you’d be working on. Time to say goodbye to the carefully planned day that you thought you’d have.

Being unreachable is a thing of the past. Welcome to a day when anyone and everyone can put tasks on your to-do list from anywhere in the world, at any time of day, at the press of a “send” button.

It’s All Too Much

Admit it. It is all too much. And now that you’ve admitted it, you have to decide what you’re going to do about it. My suggestion? Learn to say “no” or “not yet” to others, and create spans of time where you are not accessible, times when you can put your head down and crank away at the important tasks at hand.

I know that it’s tough to say “no” or “not yet” to others, but learning how to prioritize what you need to do is an important tool to develop in today’s busy culture. It’s easy to get wrapped up in not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings at the expense of the important work you really need to accomplish.

When I do less-pressing work during daylight hours, my family reaps the consequences of me trying to keep up during the evening hours.

How can you navigate all of this better?

  • Create generic email drafts ahead of time. When the time for saying no arises, simply drop the drafted text into your email. Don’t write it out of emotion. When we spew out an emotional response, we usually have to follow it up with an apology and the situation is clouded with angst. Keep this message simple with something like:
    • “Hey, thank you for wanting to meet face to face; I appreciate it so much. Could we continue this conversation via email, though? I may be able to address your concerns more quickly.”
    • “Thank you for your request. While I won’t be able to get to this today, I’ll put this on my to-do list and get back with you by the end of the week.”
  • Say no to meetings you know you’re just going to hand off anyway. Make the connection without doing the transitional meeting. I’ve been so bad about this, but it’s okay to do this, because you’re saving time for everyone involved. Saying, “I may not be the best person to ask. Let me connect you with someone who can better help with this,” shows that you’ve given the situation some thought and are expediting the solution.
  • Block out spans of hours where you will close your email app, put your phone on do not disturb, put your headphones in, and crank away on the right work at the right time.
  • Straight up, be honest with people. I’m frequently contacted by people about sales, trainings, or partnerships. It’s easy to string a person along in the name of Protecting Their Feelings when you already know it’s not going to happen. Tell a person the truth, even if it’s difficult—they’ll appreciate it more. Remember, the person on the other end of that call or email is probably just as busy as you.
  • Have a plan in place that allows you to say yes when you really want to say yes. This includes a plan for saying no when you need to say no. If your schedule is full of the “no” crowd, you’ve filled up the space that would be better used by helping the people you’d like to help. We all know this, but time is limited. You only have a finite amount of it. I love my family too much to fill my nights and weekends by saying yes to more unnecessary work and no to having fun with my wife and kids.

Time to Take Action

Where do you need to say “no” or “not yet” more frequently? How will you build in uninterrupted times to get the right things done?

Have questions? Email or tweet at me and I’ll do my best to help you get focused on doing the right work at the right time.

My Return to Fiction

The Realization

When I started working at Frontline Church in 2010, I knew I’d have to catch up on some serious reading. I came from a church background that mainly lived off of the Mardel Top Ten list. The men and women in leadership at my current church job have reading lists that might have topped Mardel’s Top Ten list in the 1500’s.

So, for the last ten years I’ve been packing in the deep reading. Calvin, Luther, Augustine of Hippo were some of the old guys. The modern crew includes guys like Storms, Keller, Stott, Packer, Sproul, and Piper, to name a few. Thankfully, I love reading and I’m a fast reader (not to toot my own horn too much) and I’ve really enjoyed the journey the Lord has had me on.

Sabbatical

In the summer of 2018 I was able to go on an extended sabbatical. Thankfully, the leadership of Frontline sees the importance of taking much needed physical and spiritual rest and recuperation after many years of solid labor.

During this break I spent a lot of time in my Bible. I woke up and read on my front porch, I studied on my bed, I even tempted fate and read the Bible on my Kindle in the bathtub. When you don’t have to get up and go to work, you end up have quite a few hours during the day available to you.

A Love for Fiction

After cleaning my garage out for the second time, I decided to head to the Kindle Store to figure out what more I could read and that’s where I rediscovered my love for fiction. Give me a solid thriller with a touch of mystery woven throughout and a bit of a love story and I’m all in.

Over the last year, I’ve been treating myself to a nice fiction read on a near monthly basis. Yes, I still have a lot of theological development to do, but I’m trying to keep a two to one rhythm rolling (two books for development to one fiction read). Why? Well, I find that I’ve had a few positive benefits that I really wasn’t expecting.

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

  • I sleep better after reading at night instead of watching TV, there’s no doubt about it.
  • Reading keeps me connected to my heart. I rarely cry or feel the ups and downs of any real emotion when watching TV or a movie. When I read books there seems to be a real connection to my feelings and this has a positive impact on how I interact with family, friends, and coworkers. A Rex that is tender is a much better one to be around. Feel free to ask my wife about that fact.
  • The stress of daily living is high, reading takes me out of that mess and I can tell that the stress is kept at bay. As a matter of fact, recent research shows that reading can reduce stress levels by 68%. That’s more than listening to music, drinking tea, and even taking a walk.
  • Reading keeps your brain in tiptop shape and can keep future deterioration at bay. I feel like I’m thinking more clearly, my memory is stronger, and I’m learning new words all the time.
  • Finally, I’m just so happy when I get to crack open a fun new read. Just today, I finished Odd Thomas and experienced the highs and lows of the final couple of chapters and am now excited to get into the second book.

Conclusion

If you haven’t read anything longer than a long-winded friend’s Facebook post in a while, pick up a good book. See if you observe any of the benefits that I’ve been seeing. When you do find that next great read, be sure to share it with me on Twitter. I’ll pick it up!

Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13

Renewing Your Mind | How to Pray According to God’s Word

I’ve elevated my study of the Bible over the last few years, but my prayer life is a place I have room to grow. The Renewing Your Mind Podcast had a great teaching by the late great R.C. Sproul today unpacking the impact of Luther on his prayer life.

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for over 20 years and have not heard the story of Luther’s barber asking him how to pray. Yes, Luther’s master barber that the whole town called Master Peter. The little book that Luther wrote him is so good and I’m going to work Luther’s plan into my prayer time. It’s gold.

Download A Simple Way to Pray (For Master Peter the Barber), it’s a quick read that could impact your whole life. Additionally, hit the title of the post above as it’s a link to the podcast episode from Renewing Your Mind.

Book Review – The Changeling: Victor LaValle

★★★★★

I didn’t know what I was getting into, I went into this read totally blind. I googled “top books of 2017” because I figured my library would have plenty of copies to read. I was right and I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

This is what you get when you cross an old fairytale set in modern times with a touch of horror, written by a man who is a real poet. That’s some mashup.

The first third of the book I was all in. The rest of the book was exciting enough to trade sleep for the conclusion.

I wish I could tell you more, but going in blind is the way to do it. Here’s all I’ll give you before you go and buy it, or check it out, like I did.

When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. Irritable and disconnected from their new baby boy, at first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go even deeper. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

The Changeling on Amazon

Old and New

This is me, I’m old. This is my family, we’re still kinda new as Stella is only eight. This is my first post on a new space I’ve carved out on an old, by modern tech standards, blogging platform.

I have an old itch that needs to be scratched and that’s putting new content out. Now, this new content won’t be great, let’s just get that out there now. It will, however, be moderately interesting if you like photography, theology, productivity, sports (Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, OKC Dodgers), and my family.

Documenting my life and thoughts has actually been a thing for a while, but I always reset. It’s time for that reset, but let’s take a look at the past iterations.

  • Scroll back in time on this site, it’ll take you as far back as 2014.
  • My original Tumblr – Goes back to 2007 and encapsulates some good and bad times in the life of a blogger and a lot of photos from my art show days. The further you go back in time the stupider it gets.
  • The ProjectOKC Blog – Chronicles the rise and fall of a non-profit I ran from 2009-2011. A social network for good. Theology was all over the place as I transitioned out of a church job and into the non-profit world.

Spending the evening looking over these old posts has been fun for me, not as fun for you, but it’s time for me to move forward and start something new. Maybe it can be fun for all of us from time to time.

Show Notes: Top Three Phone Battery Packs

Having a conversation over on Anchor.fm about what the top battery packs for our phones are. Wanted to post links to my recommendations.

The Jackery Bolt has over 600 reviews on Amazon and sits at 4.5 stars. It’ll charge your  phone a couple times through the day. It’s super legit because it can fuel your iPhone or Android phone as it comes with both Lightening and Micro USB cables built in! At only $27.99 it’s a dang steal. Fits in my hand like one of those fun colored iPods we used to all own.

When I go to conferences or on trips I like to whip out this bigger battery. This is the Anker Powercore 20100. People, it’s amazing. It charges my big phone about five or six times from zero percent to 100%. It can charge my iPad Pro, then charge my phone, each a couple of times. Fantastic deal at only $40. It has nearly 11,000 reviews on Amazon and sits at 4.5 stars.

Top Three Wireless Speaker Setups

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Transcript of The Maven’s Top Three Podcast

  • Hello, howdy, how you doing? What a week, what a week. I’m proud to announce that our little podcast is gaining traction. This is because of you, the fine listeners to this little station that could. The last episode had the most downloads yet, and we’re going to keep on rolling out great information and even better quality podcasts.
  • We’re recording live from the RV of enlightenment, my tiny home on the acreage, and have a great episode lined out for you. What are we talking about? My top three wireless speaker recommendations for whole house listening.
  • Weekly, I put out episode requests for topics you’d like to see me research. Last week Ryan, over on Facebook, what the best way to get music through his house was. Today, we will cover just that. Getting that delicious ear juice though you halls, into your bedrooms, and into your kitchens.
  • I wish I could tell you that there are tons of quality reliable systems that broadcast various streaming sources to recommend for you, but house-wide speaker systems matching that criteria are difficult to find.
  • I’m Rex Barrett with Maven’s Top Three and I do the hard work of gathering what’s best in media, tech, and fun then pass my TOP THREE lists on to you.

Segment One – Sonos Play:1

  • Do you have a Bluetooth speaker? I do, and when I’m listening to music it is constantly being interrupted by the notifications from my phone, like texts, calls, and various bings and dings. See, that’s the issue with Bluetooth, it’s passing on any sound your phone is making to the connected speaker.
  • This is why I’m placing the Sonos Play:1 at the tip-top of today’s Top Three. The Sonos speaker connects to the internet instead of streaming from your phone. Think about what this means, your volume isn’t paired to your phone so each speaker in each room can be at a different level. Big living room, BOOM, cranked. Tiny bathroom, little boom, not cranked. All of this driven through an app on any of your devices.
  • The Sonos also does a unified search through each of the streaming services when you’re looking for music. So, in my case, I have Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, MLB, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. I recently dropped Apple Music, but it does that too. Yeah, I have quite a few services. Guess what, Sonos streams every one of those and many more. You might not recognize the phrase “unified search” so let me explain it in an action you might use already. If you have a Roku or AppleTV, you’ve probably done a direct search for a movie, allowing the little black boxes to find which service the movie streams. Same with the Sonos and your music.
  • You won’t be able to add other speakers into the mix because Sonos keeps their little system locked down to just their speakers. This is not a bad thing, as they sound amazing and come in a handsome setup that will look good placed around your house. Oh, and these speakers won’t be obsolete anytime soon. Sonos keeps pumping out firmware upgrades to ensure that the speaker you buy will last a good long time.
  • The Sonos Play:1 goes for $199 per speaker, but if you’ve priced higher end Bluetooth speakers lately, you’ll immediately recognize that this price ain’t too shabby. I fully recommend you buy a house full of the Play:1.
  • Now, if you have richer tastes, you might want an even more powerful speaker. Let me introduce you to the Sonos Play:5. It’s literally four better. Well, actually it has six amplifiers with six dedicated speaker drivers, so it’s even better than that, actually. This guarantees a room full of rich sound. It’ll set you back $499.
  • You want a wireless soundbar for your home theater? Pick up the Playbase, it brags about giving you full theater sound and contains a 10 speaker array internally. Pair the with the Sonos Sub and a couple of Play:1s and you’ll have full surround sound. You’ll be rocking in under five minutes. Yeah, that’s all the time it takes to set these beauties up.
  • So, sure, these are a bit spendy, but come on, full wireless sound all over your house? Heck yeah.
  • Again, for those of you just looking to place a couple speakers around the house, you have the Play:1s at $199 each.
  • Head to http://Maven.Show to see the full transcript of this episode and I’ve put every link, affiliate, of course, for you to get your speakers on Amazon today.

Segment Two – Google Chromecast Audio Dongle

  • Want a cheaper solution? Well, it’s way less elegant and doesn’t stream the huge number of options that Sonos does, but it’ll get the dang job done.
  • The Chromecast dongle is a little puck that plugs into the minijack that the Bluetooth speakers you have all over your house probably sport on the back of them. At $35 from Walmart, you can pick up a few and use the speakers you probably already have. But, if you want to buy more speakers, just head to Amazon and pick up a few decently rated ones, place the setup around your house, and you’re playing tunes in no time.
  • There isn’t a slick app to do a unified search, instead, you open Spotify, for example, and send it to the Chromecast. Thus, the word “cast”. You’re broadcasting to the little wireless puck and the speakers you’ll connect. Now, remember, you’re casting it there, so you’re still not broadcasting from your phone, you’re streaming from the cloud. You’ll still get the cool benefit of not having your notifications ruining your music experience.
  • If you have an Android phone or use the Chrome browser on your computer, you can mirror your audio. Sorry, iOS.

Segment Three – Amazon Echo Dot

  • Now, this isn’t a house-wide solution, but it’s going to be one day. Hopefully. Maybe. String together five Echo Dots and music will play everywhere, this is the dream, but it is also the future. Echo synchronization is supposed to come sometime in 2017.
  • Until then, what’s a girl to do? Well, let’s connect some Bluetooth speakers TO THE ECHO DOT. Get one $50 Dot and a few JLab House Party Bluetooth speakers and you can add a room for $99, totally controlled by your voice.
  • I’m a huge Texas Rangers baseball fan, so I listen to sports radio out of Dallas, Tx.I just say, “Alexa, play The Ticket radio station” and I have instant sports radio. How about, “Alexa, play Motley Crue.” I’ll immediately hear Kickstart My Heart, much to the chagrin of my wife.

023 Wrap up and how to connect

  • Whew, that was a deep dive into wireless speakers for your whole house. There’s not $20 way out of this thing. If you’re looking for your house to be wonderfully saturated with sweet tunes, you’re going to have to pay a bit. But, this is why we work and earn money, right? We want to have nice things.
  • Again, I’m posting a transcript of this podcast onto my website at http://Maven.Show. There you’ll find the links to every little thing I mentioned today.
  • If this is the first Maven Podcast you’ve listened to, please look up past episodes. We’ve covered how to make cold brew, productivity apps, comic books, several that cover the best in fast food, and one of my recent favorites, top ways to get your caffeine fix.
  • Do you have any thoughts, questions, or comments? It’s easy to reach out…
  • Download the Anchor App in the App Store and call in to tell me about it. I might just publish your thoughts.
  • What to chat on Twitter? Find me @RexBOKC.
  • I’m Rex Barrett and you can Find Maven’s Top Three at Maven.Show or where all fine podcasts are distributed.
  • SEE YA