How to Maximize Your Productivity in Ministry
Here’s a guest post from Steven Knight. Steven is a family and children’s ministry pastor in Dallas, Texas. Steven’s passion is to train and equip children’s ministry leaders. He is the founder of kidmintools.com, a website that is dedicated to keeping those in children’s ministry current and a frequent speaker at children’s ministry conferences.
Have you ever wished that there was more time in the day, or that you could find ways to increase your personal productivity to another level?
In ministry, there is never enough time to get everything done. However, there’s plenty of time to do the work that God has for us. As stewards of our time, we can honor God when we find ways to be productive when working. With this in mind, I am always looking at how I can increase my own ministry productivity, so after trying many different methods over the years, here are 18 tips for how to maximize your productivity in ministry:
- Keep a schedule (and follow it). Do you have a detailed ministry schedule? Think through your week – which days would work best as your meeting days? Try to schedule meetings on the same day(s) if possible. Do you need to prepare a lesson for Sunday? Block out an afternoon or two to work on it. That way, when someone asks if you are available during those times, you can share that you have a prior commitment already (assuming the request isn’t urgent), and you can schedule your meeting or task at a better time.
- Specific kinds of music.Have you ever tried to listen to music while working? It can be helpful, if you choose the right type of music. Try different categories of music until you find music that actually helps you focus (hint: if you sing along with the music, it usually won’t help you focus). Instrumental music can work wonders when you need to focus on specific projects.
- A timer.This works great if you have trouble sitting still and focusing on a task for an extended amount of time. Try setting a timer for 30 minutes, work the whole time, then when the timer goes off, allow yourself a 5-10 minute break.
- Walking break.Yes, you may need to do most of your job from a desk. However, taking short walk breaks will help increase your mental capacity and improve your health.
- Standing desk.I haven’t converted to the “standing desk only” approach that many people have implemented. However, I do have a few countertops that I’ll use on occasion to get a few minutes of work done while standing. It’s worth a try, since standing is healthier for you than sitting.
- Standing meeting.The next time you hold a meeting, take all of the chairs out of the room and meet while standing. Your meeting will go faster and you’ll still achieve the same results.
- Checklist.Make a checklist that is prioritized with your most important tasks at the top and stick to it! If you want to feel more accomplished quickly, make a “15-minute task list” with anything you can complete in 15 minutes or less, then take an hour or two to knock them out. You’ll feel accomplished and your to-do list will be much shorter.
- Simplify and organize.When you reduce the clutter and simplify your desk and office space, you reduce the time you spend searching for lost items. You’ll save more time than you would like to admit.
- Delegate.Are you working on tasks that your team could be working on? Could a talented volunteer help with a task? Is there someone who is better equipped for a task than you (and could do it faster/better)? Then consider delegating those tasks and focusing on the tasks that you are most gifted for. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t willing to do something (leaders should be willing to do anything they ask someone else to do) – it just means that you are working with other parts of the body of the Church toward the same goal.
- Eliminate distractions.Having trouble focusing? Log out of social media or turn your wi-fi off. Close the office door. Figure out ways to eliminate distractions and you’ll be much more productive.
- Focus app.Speaking of eliminating distractions, have you heard about the Focus app for Macbefore? It blocks distracting websites and your email accounts for a set amount of time, and when you go to one of those sites, a pop-up comes up with an inspirational quote. Brilliant.
- Change of scenery.Sometimes it’s just hard to sit in one place all week and get work done. If you’re able to, consider going to a local coffee shop or restaurant for a few hours to get work done. Find a local library or search for other venues with free wi-fi.
- Teamwork.Are you trying to come up with all of the new ministry ideas yourself? Hold brainstorm sessions with your staff and your lead volunteer teams. Together, you might just come up with better ideas in one hour than you could by yourself in one week.
- Find your productive time.What is your most productive time of day? Find that time and use it to your advantage.
- Small boost of energy.Whether you drink coffee or tea, work out a few mornings every week, or use other methods, find ways to give yourself small boosts of energy and increase your ability to focus well.
- Let it go.Sometimes a task needs to be completed rather than perfected. Spending too much time on something can distract from the rest of your ministry. Determine how you can complete quality work but avoid obsessing over it (unless it’s absolutelynecessary to do so).
- Say no.Do you have trouble saying “no?” It might be time to get some practice in. When you say “yes” to everything that comes your way, your main tasks will inevitably be affected. Say “no” more often and “keep the main things the main things.”
- Use the small gaps of time.Are you utilizing the small gaps of time in your life? If you have a 15-minute drive to work, that’s a great time to listen to a podcast or make a few quick phone calls. Waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting? Check your to-do list or answer a few emails. These small gaps of time add up quickly, so utilize them effectively.
Implement a few of these tips and you’ll increase your ministry productivity and save yourself some time. Are you ready to enjoy those benefits?