A Key to Getting Things Done: Do Less!

There’s always more to do in youth ministry isn’t there? Today I was reminded of a principle that I had learned a long time ago…But it was clear today that I had completely forgotten it:

Getting stuff done always takes longer than you think… Therefore, schedule less.

Youth Ministry To Do List

I know that reading the above statement could make you say, “Well duh, that’s obvious!” I am with you. It should be so completely obvious. But, when push comes to shove, if you are anything like me, I love to pack in as much as I can in my ministry day. I am ever the optimist of what I can get done and what can be accomplished by days end.

But, our overactive optimism causes us issues. Here’s why:

  • It messes up tomorrow. I frequently have to ‘carry over’ tasks to the next day and end up having to constantly restructure my schedule. No big deal, but over time this is frustrating.
  • It ends today on a down note. If you are like me, I like end my day feeling like I have accomplished a great deal and my enthusiasm is higher. I know we should not live and die by the task list, but when this is an ongoing issue, it is bound to get us down…
  • It clouds the future. Being too optimistic (and not realistic enough), will cause us to run so fast that we have little time to look ahead, plan, and create. Having greater margin and a more realistic schedule / task list helps us to breathe and look ahead.

So, given the million and one things you and we could potentially do, how are we to schedule less, when there is always more to do?

  1. Write a list of your absolute essential ministry priorities on a given week. For me, this is contact time, planning ahead, message writing, and admin. I set myself certain days and times to get these things done, and once time is up, I move on to the next priority. It forces me to be efficient! 
  2. Unplug the ‘time wasters’. Facebook, Twitter, sports, video games, you name it. Be honest with yourself and God, are you really using your time wisely?
  3. Make a plan for the next day at the end of each day. I try to use the last 15-20 minutes of my day updating a task list, checking my appointments and reconfiguring the next day to make it manageable. It allows me to hit the road running first thing the next morning.
  4. Be realistic and plan less! I know I have already said this, but it is essential you and I plan for less and plan with margin. Don’t forget the phone calls, side conversations, and family emergencies when planning.
  5. Plan rewards! Give yourself something to look forward that becomes the motivator to be efficient and use your time wisely. It’s surprising how these simple things bring the best out of us.
  6. Delegate, delegate, delegate. This should be a given, but sadly not always. I often find myself hanging on to tasks that my assistant or a volunteer could do quicker (and more cheerfully) than me. If we want to schedule less, we need to delegate more… (That sounds like a good blog post for some time in the future)?

So, again, to restate the principle and ensure we all get it:

When planning our ministry schedule, we need to remember that getting stuff done always takes longer… Therefore, ensure you schedule less!

What helps you get things done? How do you prioritize? What advice can you pass on to those of us who are struggling to keep our heads above water? 

Phil <><

  • http://www.smarterym.com/ Aaron Helman

    Two things:

    1. This post is great.

    2. I wonder how many people are making the even bigger mistake of not calendaring themselves at all.