Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making the Most of your Time

I am not the best person in the world at managing my schedule; I am sure they are people out there that do it much better than I do.  I am also not much of a person that likes to plan everything out but I have had enough times of entering meetings I wasn't prepared for, walking up to pulpit to preach messages I hadn't put enough study time into and missing out on family time due to work/school related circumstances.

The bulk of what I am about to share came about because of a catastrophic event that happened while I was in leadership.  May 2009 was the craziest ministry month of my life!  I found out that the founding lead pastor of the church I was high school pastor at was resigning due to a moral failure.  That meant that my responsibilities increased pretty much over night to help the church survive the blow.  Thankfully I was registered to take two classes that summer at Tozer Theological Seminary and one of those classes was Christian Spiritual Formations with Dr. Bill Randall.  Bill took some extra time with Charity and me to help me understand the need to make the most of my time in this situation of our lives.

Since then I have made some tweaks to how I make the most of my time but I do my best to schedule all my time to make sure that I am accomplishing what I want to do with my life (and what I feel God has called me to do).  If you need some help with your calendar can I encourage you to follow these steps:

When I first started planning out my calendar I would put in my weekly work duties, school requirements and pretty much everything else that I thought was super important.  That worked for about six months until my wife said: "Where is there time for me?"  That rocked me and revealed to me that I had selfishly been forgetting about my family while trying to keep the church alive and finish seminary.  Now that we have been doing this for over three years I start out my week with planning family time.  This includes taking my kids on a date, having a weekly date with my wife and making sure to block out some big chunks of my week for family time.

Now that you have taken some time to have a date with your wife, spend some time with your kids, make sure you are home for dinner or to be home for a family lunch once a week look for some time for yourself.  In his book As for me and my crazy house Brian Berry talks about how important it is for you to be a healthy leader by slotting some "Me" time.  This could be going fishing for a few hours on your day off, getting a coffee one morning or hitting the gym a few nights in the week.  This is vital to your personal health so make sure when you plan your week out you get some time in there doing some things that are going to make you happy and healthy.  There is a unique balance in this part of calendaring; I have learned that there are weeks I can get more time for myself and there are weeks that I have to fight for it (be prepared).

When you planning out your schedule make sure that you look ahead, a few months, to know what is coming your way.  Put big things on the calendar way ahead of time so you can make sure you are ready for them when the time comes!  If you have a mission trip coming up and need to schedule some team meetings this is the place to do that!  Our Community Life Pastor just emailed me with the dates for our Men's Retreat that is February and I immediately put that on my calendar.  It is unfair for you to call meetings the week of and expect that everyone will be able to attend.  When you think ahead it shows the people you are working with that you care about them and value your time.

My wife and I love to vacation!  This means that when we are doing our calendar we are looking for a place to put a get-a-way in there.  Now this doesn't always happen and its not always Hawaii (though I wish it was) but it could be thinking ahead to visit your family who lives a few hours away.  Thinking ahead also gets your mind out of the weekly grind to accomplish your dreams!

This can be the more difficult part of making the most of your time but this is a very important piece.  If you know that you are preaching this Sunday in Big Church than you need to carve out some big chunks of time to message prep.  Maybe you have some reoccurring weekly meetings that you need to prep for or you would like to get lunch with a key leader; this is the time to do that.  Figure out what needs to be done this week and put it on the calendar; then when you get a reminder about it you know its time to start working on it.

Also, when you do this leave some margin.  Leave some room between meetings so you are not rushing from one meeting to the next.  Leave some margin so if a parent calls and wants to talk you have the freedom to make that happen.  Leave some room so you can meet with an intern or catch up with a fellow staff member at the water cooler.

The way that this works best for me is to sit down on the couch on Sunday night for about an hour with my computer open.  I make sure that Charity and I get some time to talk through our week, then we talk through the month and finally I fill in my work week.  If you choose to start doing something like this give yourself some grace as you figure what works best for you.

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