It is safe to say that time management is one of the biggest needs for ministry leaders in the church. I know there’s tons of information available on the subject and I encourage you to take a look anytime you can. As for me, I have to brush up on my time management skills several times a year. Time management isn’t something you figure out once, then simply put it into practice for the rest of your life. At every new season, you have to re-calibrate.
Prior to being married, I booked music events, served as a youth pastor, attended school, had social circles, volunteered, and did various other things. As a newlywed, I still did those things, but also began adding in family schedules, trips, vacations, evenings together, bill paying, shopping, etc. Once we became homeowners, my semester mindset was replaced with a regular work schedule and on top of everything else, I had the added responsibilities of mowing the lawn, growing the ministry, preaching, singing, reading, leading and moving things forward.
Next came the first kid, then the second… and life really took a turn. I kept on doing most things, but also had to change diapers, drive to preschool, and spend afternoons and evenings playing, recording, scrap-booking, etc. What’s more, the ministry grew and even more responsibility was added in.
I think you get the idea. You may even have a similar story. Any wise person is always taking stock of their time and seeking to be a life long student of good time management principles. Then, after knowing what we should do, we must actually implement them.
I’m still honing my time management skills. Some weeks are amazing. Other days, I fall off the bandwagon. Some days I feel really productive. Other days, I feel like it’s 2 pm and all I’ve done is switched from one task to the next without completing anything of consequence.
Nevertheless, I will share these five common denominators on the days I feel most productive:
Up Early After A Good Night’s Sleep
There are always those nights when I’m traveling or we have a family event or some other reason this doesn’t work, but as much as possible, I have a routine. It may sound crazy, but I typically get things ready for sleeping as I am getting home in the afternoon. I straighten up the bedroom, pull out what I’m planning to wear, etc. Closer to bedtime, I help make sure everyone gets their teeth brushed and their beds ready before we do “one more thing together” which is different on different nights – either a board game, a book or whatever. Around 9:00 pm, I lay down, read a bit and then fall asleep quickly. The next morning, I usually get up a little before 5:00 am and just jump right into my morning routine, which I have listed out on my to-do list (and includes, prayer, scripture, reading, writing in a journal, writing, walking and listening).
An Organized To-Do List / Calendar
When I know what needs to be accomplished for the day, I feel the sense of “need to get it done” and I’m more likely to be productive. I typically try to have this list written out the afternoon before. I also try to make sure I schedule important things outside of the daily whirlwind. The possible systems to use for this are endless – but I currently use Google Calendars and Wunderlist – both of which are free.
I find that some of my most productive days are the ones when others are involved. When a team member, volunteer or paid, is a part of the goal with me, it seems like we work faster, harder and more efficiently. It’s the accountability and the synergy that help create great things. Learning to delegate is a key part of this process. I’m still trying to learn, but here’s one thing that helped me.
Something Planned At Home
When I’m looking forward to something planned at home, I usually get excited about getting the work done more quickly. On the evenings we are expecting company, working on a home project or have tickets to an event we’re attending, it always seems like I’m more focused during the work day. One time management principle I learned was to work like you are leaving on vacation the next day. We always seem motivated to get all the important things done before we leave – so work with that in mind. Having something planned in the evening helps provide that edge.
A Renewed Thought From Scripture
I don’t want to make reading scripture seem like reading a fortune cookie or something, but when I wake up and read the Bible – any little part of it – my mind is clearer and more focused for the day, compared to when I don’t read. Scripture from the Bible helps me put things in perspective, helps me work with people more gracefully, and gives me motivation to stay true to the call of being a disciple.
What about you? What makes your day most productive?
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