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We can all agree that there are not enough hours in the day, and we often wonder how the day gets by without being able to accomplish more.
Time management is a skill that is difficult to master but can be done with a little planning, focus, and sometimes, technology can help.
As church leaders and employees, we know that our salary is paid through the tithes of others. This fact makes it even more important to manage our precious time.
This can be particularly challenging because of the unique nature of a church and the unexpected member crisis that needs to be dealt with.
Learning some time management secrets can help keep the organization focused on achieving its mission and strategy – and get more done!
8 Time Management Tips
1. Know What Needs to Be Done
Many people do not know what is expected of them and what they are trying to accomplish.
This ambiguity results in performing tasks that may or may not be helping to achieve what is most important for the organization’s success.
Every organization should have a strategic plan that results in goals to achieve its strategy.
Employees should have goals that support the organization’s strategy. Those specific employee goals will help to create a job description and task list of what needs to be done.
2. Prioritize What Needs to be Done
Employee goals should then be incorporated into an employee’s daily task list that is prioritized by identifying those one or two things that are the most important to get done.
Constantly ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I can do today to get me closer to accomplishing my goals?”
For instance, let’s assume you have goals for the Volunteer Coordinator. One goal might be improving the volunteer experience and improving volunteer satisfaction scores. The volunteer coordinator might add a daily task of contacting 3-5 volunteers and trying to learn from their experience.
3. Do the Most Difficult Task First
Most of us are guilty of avoiding those challenging tasks that require difficult or unpleasant steps. Identify those tasks and do them first.
If you are a morning person, tackle those difficult tasks when alert and fresh.
For instance, let’s stay with the Volunteer Coordinator example. If you find making phone calls easier in the morning, schedule the time before noon to make those essential phone calls.
After you have completed that required task, you will find that all other tasks go much quicker and easier.
4. Stop Multitasking
Some people think multitasking is a great skill to have. However, too much multi-tasking can significantly impact productivity and work quality.
Target the most important task and focus on that one thing until it is accomplished.
Close all programs on your computer except the one you use to complete your most important task.
For instance, if you are working on the annual report due in a few days, focus on that project and turn off email and all other programs to give all your attention to the project at hand.
5. Identify and Eliminate Time Wasters
Time wasters are things you don’t plan to do but consume much of your time.
For instance, a time waster may be reading emails, text messages, social media, blogs, hallway chatting, and research rabbit trails – to name a few.
Take time to reflect and create your own list of things that rob your time. Once you identify them, commit to eliminating them while working on prioritized tasks.
Someone said, “Your email is not your to-do list!”
Once I got that revelation, it changed how I managed my barrage of daily emails!
6. Schedule Time for Time Wasters
Be realistic. Some of those time-wasting habits give us pleasure. Create a schedule with a limited period of time for those time-wasting habits.
Like budgeting money, you should budget time to do those things that make you feel good.
Things like checking out what the new baby is doing on Facebook or reading those joke emails should be scheduled for specific times during the day, not during your productive time.
This requires some discipline, but if you can master it, you will discover how much more you can accomplish.
Don’t open those pages on your computer while trying to accomplish other tasks.
7. Identify Those Things You Need to Stop Doing
We all do things that might have been important at one time but may no longer add value or help achieve goals.
It is vital to constantly evaluate what needs to be done and think about why it needs to be done.
For instance, let’s say you are collecting data on the volunteer application process. You are measuring the time it takes for a volunteer to be screened and placed into a role from when an application is received.
You may have your assistant track this information for six months while you work to improve the process. Let’s also say that you successfully improved the process and shortened the application time to three days.
While it is important to monitor this new process continually, the need to collect ongoing data may not be. You find a year later that your assistant is still spending time on a task that no longer adds value.
Managers need to be aware of what employees are working on to eliminate tasks that no longer add value.
If it doesn’t support the overall strategy and mission of the organization, stop doing it and spend time doing those things that do.
8. Time Your Tasks
I have found that when I determine to complete a task in a certain period of time, I can usually get it accomplished in that time. This isn’t always the case, but very often it is.
Set a timer and determine to get XYZ accomplished within 20 or 30 minutes. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you focus!
Our Time Is Our Responsibility
We all have different social styles, which makes us each unique in how we approach work. However, even with these differences, we are responsible for doing our job and getting the most out of our time at work.
Take some time to reflect on your time, and you may discover some ways to improve your time management skills.
There will never be enough hours in the day, but if we are diligent, strategic, and focused, we can accomplish more by being smarter with our limited time.
What are your secrets to time management?
Learn more tips to help you manage your church by enrolling in our Fundamentals of Church Administration course.