Chuck Lawless gives fourteen useful tips over at Thom Rainer’s blog. They are not couched in the productivity language used by David Allen, but the GTD ninja with their antenna up will certainly note some similarities and cross-over. So for example, Lawless says handle each item once, and GTD processes (do it or context it).
Move papers one time. Stacks of things to do frustrate me. The only way I know to avoid stacks is to deal with papers and documents quickly.
Lawless talks about inserting breaks in the work flow, reminiscent of 43 Folders’ Merlin Mann and his (10+2)*5 productivity hack.
Take regular breaks. The break need not be long, but even a few minutes can help you re-focus your efforts. Take a walk, go to the restroom, call a friend, throw a baseball, read the paper, go outside – do somethingthat re-energizes you for the rest of the day.
Several good things to chew on. One simple thing that I could immediately envision paying off dividends had to do with body posture when somebody “drops by” for a chat:
Limit the duration of drop-by visits by standing. If you sit with someone in your office, your body language suggests you have plenty of time to visit. Remaining standing – even going to the door and standing in the office doorway – is a simple way to say, “I’m happy to visit, but I have only a few moments.”
In my “Midwest Nice” context, I can see this working very well! Of course, there are other things Lawless suggests that I would struggle to accomplish (“14. Clean your desk every day before you leave.” He’s joking, right?!)
Of course, there are a lot of other things that need to be said for helping pastors with time management. Some tasks are sacred – sermon prep, prayer & study, evangelism, and discipleship. Pastors will need to guard those in how they manage their schedules. I remember the first week serving my current congregation, and by Saturday night I had but in a 55+ hour week and hadn’t taken one minute for sermon prep. Thankfully, I had written several sermons previously, knowing about a steep launch schedule. But what was most distressing was there was nothing all that unusual about the busy week I had just completed – it would be easy to be that busy every week. Pastors must set careful priorities.
Recently, I’ve seen more and more pastors tout the virtues of a virtual assistant (here’s one example). Research firms have recently made news due to current debates in wider evangelicalism. The extent that pastors could enlist the help of such organizations is something that needs to be thought out more carefully before being embrace, in my opinion. What strategies do you think pastors need to think about with regards to wisely stewarding their time?
Read the whole thing: 14 Tips for Time Management.