5 Practical + Proven Ways to Manage your Schedule BEFORE Your Schedule Manages You
Have you ever been overwhelmed before? Overwhelmed with the NEED and DEMANDS of ministry outweighing the time, effort, and resources you have? Well... many have felt the same. In any case, God CALLS you and I to be good stewards with what we have (not what we don't have) - and that includes our time.
I have found after 15 years of full-time ministry that stewarding our time comes down to rhythms, priorities, and calling. Below are some practical and proven ways that have helped me be at my VERY BEST for God (as HE has given HIS very best to you and I).
1. Have a plan
The goal for me is to have a 21-hour grid of time schedule. The goal was to work two blocks/day. Of course, my busy day was Tuesday where I usually worked three blocks but I would take a block from Friday to compensate. Here is what a typical week looked like for me:
I have always used a 21-hour grid of time. I have found this extremely helpful and flexible enough in the context of ministry. It also helped me stay focused on my priorities (see #2).
Wayne Cordeiro in his book, Leading On Empty suggest having a PDR (personal day retreat) once a month to reflect on the rhythms of life and ministry. For me, these times were four-hour retreats (once a month) where I would unplug from technology, go offsite, and take time to go deep with God. These times actually became very productive as it helped me understand what God wanted me to focus on and/or realign with.
Have a yearly schedule. Jim Collins book Built To Last suggests to prioritize your calendar around big rocks. In ministry, this is the same. Plan the big rocks, the non-negotiables, the things you need/have to do and then build your calendar around that. This would include events, retreats, conferences, holidays, training, and then regular rhythms (i.e., 21hr/grid of time). Here is a sample 12 month plan that I would use:
2. Schedule around your priorities
I worked in five areas as a youth pastor – administration, programs, pastoral, campus (outreach), and leadership. This helped me keep sharp in my calling and focused on what needed to get done.
Even to this day, I have a "weekly dashboard" to help me stay focused. Below are the goods:
What are your priorities? As you know your priorities - your calling -, you can build your schedule around those things to help to stay focused on what is important.
3. Share your schedule with your leader
Communicating your schedule is so important. It helps others understand what you are doing, shows that you are a good self-leader + manager, reveals what is important to you and what isn't important to you, and helps others to respect you (your time).
In addition to this, a good schedule helps align your goals, expectations, priorities, and time with your leader.
4. Expect the Unexpected
In my case, I only had 2 crisis where the situation trumped my schedule in 15 years of full-time ministry. With that said, ministry has to be flex. My schedule gave me the flexibility where I could to do things that needed me to be on DUTY. It is important to schedule the unexpected in your calendar when duty calls (as working with people ALWAYS has "interruptions" - this is a good thing too!).
Last, I would take time to reflect on my schedule. This was important to me at it helped adjust, realign, and praise God for what He has done. I would ask the following:
· Where did I spend most of my time?
· Was I productive with my time?
· How can I adjust my schedule? Where did I waste my time?
· Am I hearing “well done” from the Father?
Throughout Scripture, we are called to be productive and effective. We ALL have a limited amount of time to make a difference in this world. I hope this will help you, give you clarity, and gain perspective with your time so that you can make the most out of your time here on Earth.