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How to Create & Manage a Sustainable Schedule Online & Offline

It’s 3:00 PM. You have a lot of stuff left to do; more than you expected by now. Truth is, you had a lot of stuff do as soon as you woke up. Somehow it seems like all the important stuff is still stalking you, stealing your peace. And you’re left wondering what you can push off until tomorrow and how late you’ll have to work today to get what’s left, done.

What happened? The day started off with such optimism. Somewhere along the way, things popped up, priorities shifted, and the plan to accomplish great things was derailed.

Unfortunately, for church leaders, this is an all-too-common scenario. So many good excuses exist to get us distracted from work. People pop in, new tasks get added, bright ideas are incorporated, and before you know it, you’ve been forced to prioritize the urgent instead of the important. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. With proper church management tools, creating a sustainable schedule to help with daily church tasks is not as hard as you might think. 

For church leaders and staff charged with managing ministries – which are often multifaceted and ever-changing – it’s important to establish a daily or weekly schedule to keep your priorities straight.

Some people only need a general outline to keep them on track. Others need a detailed task list or they’ll get lost in the weeds with every shift in the breeze. If you’re one of those people who need a detailed task list, there are a lot of online and mobile apps you can utilize. Regardless of the tools you use, there a few key principles that will help you craft a sustainable schedule for your daily church tasks.

Always Wake Up Worshipping
To establish the right frame of reference through which the rest of the day will follow, we must put God first. By setting aside a time to worship and remember his greatness, we’ll remember that all our efforts, tasks, and troubles are his. It’s from this place that our priorities flow, and it’s his peace that stays with us through the ups and downs of a turbulent day, week, month, or year. Furthermore, it’s his wisdom that will allow us to arrange our days (Psalm 90:12) in such a way that His will is honored and our lives are blessed.

Three Main Times During the Day
As a general outline, it’s helpful to block out your day into three main “times” – as in, sections of time. You’re probably already familiar with these: morning, afternoon, evening. Nothing new here. But, what might be new – and helpful – is how to appropriate your efforts during those chunks of time so that your ministry management will be most effective. What works well for me is:

1) Morning Preparation: After you spend some time with the Lord, spend some time in your mind visualizing your day. Figure out what needs to be done, and put the most important items at the top of your timeline. If something doesn’t have to be done right away, let it slip away from your mind, for the time being. Otherwise, the nagging background thought of “everything” you have to do will always be haunting you, making you less effective at what really matters. This is where technological solutions can be a real help. Online calendars, schedulers, project management tools, and task lists can help you manage your schedule and priorities across all your devices; keeping you on track.

2) Afternoon Mingling: If at all possible, move your meetings to the afternoon (and afternoon could start at noon if need be!). There are two good reasons to do this: 1) you’ll be better in the meeting, knowing that you’ve already accomplished what you’ve needed to, and 2) meeting with colleagues, pastors, members, or whoever else is looking to you for something in the afternoon creates space for you to spend the necessary amount of quality time with those people. Remember, loving people is one of our utmost callings. If we don’t schedule our day in such a way that allows us to be fully present with people, we are shortchanging their needs. If you don’t have meetings scheduled, it could be a great opportunity to block out some time for reaching new people. If you have a good church management software you can search the database and reports to find the people you’ll want to interact with. If you’re moving them along a discipleship or assimilation plan, you’ll know exactly how to reach out to them to make that personal, meaningful touch.

3) Evening Family Time: A healthy ministry starts in the home. If you’re neglecting your family to “get more done”, you’re cooking a recipe for disaster. Disconnecting from the daily pressures is a great source of reward and fulfillment. It’s a time to turn off the devices, turn down the volume, and strengthen the things in your life that matter the most, your family relationships. Making unforgettable memories with your family or close friends will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever place as a priority.

However you decide to organize your day, remember that it all belongs to the Lord. Our job is to steward the responsibilities and the people He gives us, the best we can. The results are his.

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” – Psalm 24:1

Make a plan, steward well, stay flexible, keep the priorities straight; and you just might find that tomorrow is a little more productive than today.

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