Yesterday we talked about the big rocks that must be added to your calendar...first. If you missed that post, you should go back and read it.
Today, I want to spend some time talking about the time traps that often catch small group pastors. I refer to them as traps because unless you are careful and proactive, they will catch you and control you and your time.
Peter Drucker said that "Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed." There is great wisdom in those words.
Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, once wrote, “Just as you would not permit a fellow employee to steal a piece of office equipment, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with the time of his fellow managers.”
Time management is a stewardship issue. If you want to be a good steward of the time you've been entrusted with, you will have to avoid these four time traps.
4 Time Traps that Catch Small Group Pastors
Your calendar is a very crafty and determined trap. Because it is an expected part of normal ministry life, it may seem like something that cannot be avoided. And that may be true, but you play a key role in determining who controls your time.
Here are a few ideas to help:
- Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Even better, start planning your day at the end of the previous day.
- Look over your calendar and add blocks of time for projects that need to be completed or meetings that you want to schedule (for example, a standing time that can be spent meeting with coaches or leaders).
- Don't allow other people to fill your calendar with their agenda. A key to ministry effectiveness is developing the skill of saying no. "I'm sorry, but I have another commitment."
Assignment: Develop a habit of planning your day immediately after your early morning quiet time (the habit cue to plan your day could be putting away your devotional reading and taking out your calendar device).
Meetings are another very difficult trap to avoid or control. Some of them are completely out of your control (but over time, you may be able to influence their frequency or length). Others are in your control, if you are proactive and forward thinking.
Manage your meetings. At least the meetings you schedule can be purposeful and the necessary length. Don't let your calendar app determine how long a meeting needs to be (Mine automatically sets 30 minute time blocks). Never hold a meeting without an agenda.
Assignment: Review your standing meetings and shorten the time commitment. Check each standing meeting for purpose and required frequency. Build in a buffer between meetings or commitments. Write an agenda for each of your meetings this week.
Depending on your role, email may be the deadliest trap. If you let it, email will soon control you. If you are forward thinking, you can set practices that position email to serve you and not the other way around.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Don't check email first thing in the morning.
- Develop the practice of writing short emails. Encourage everyone on your team to do the same.
- Check your email for clarity and tone BEFORE you send it. Clear email leads to fewer questions in the reply.
- Never say in an email what should only be said in person.
Assignment: Establish an email discipline. Determine set times you will process it. Disable notifications and establish an alternate method of quick interaction if necessary and appropriate.
4. Social Media
Social media itself isn't the problem. While the habit of checking social media can be addictive, it doesn't need to be. Discipline on your part is essential.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Don't let social media control your time. Instead, set times you will check it.
- Turn off social media notifications.
- Make it your practice to focus your attention on the conversation or meeting for which you are actually present.
Assignment: Review your social media participation. Set times. Turn off notifications.
Image by Royalty Free
Resources I've Found Helpful
- The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
- Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
- 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman