I get asked by a lot of pastors or church planters how I structure my week and when I do things. I have tried systems and using an ideal week, but no one system has really fit my style the best. I’ve kind of blended things together.
While this won’t be as neat as a laid out calendar, here are principles that I use (not in a particular order):
- Determine what is most important. This is something that Brian Howard helped me with. Determine the top 8 things for your job and then determine how long those tasks will take and how much time you want to get give them. Stick to that.
- Do what is most important when I’m most awake. For most people, this is the morning. Reserve this time for the most important thing on your list of 8 things. For me, this is sermon prep. It is when I need the most brain power, need to be the most alert, so I do this then. During this time, turn off social media, email, your phone and alerts.
- Check email twice a day. Email is a destructive, helpful, necessary force. It is great but can be a time sucker. Do whatever you need to do so that you check email only twice a day, at lunch and then right before you leave. What if someone calls or stops by your office and asks, “Did you get my email?” Say, not yet, I’ll check it in an hour. You may want to put an auto response to let people know what time they can expect a response, but don’t let email control your day.
- Take breaks every 90 minutes. This is helpful. Every 90 minutes, stop what you are doing and walk around, stretch your legs. This helps to move your blood, wake you up, and bring more creativity to the task you are doing.
- Make meetings matter. Meetings are also necessary but can be a huge time waster. Here’s how to make meetings matter: stack them back to back so you get into meeting mode, always know the agenda of every meeting you go to (it is amazing how many meetings you could skip or could be phone calls if the agenda is clear), keep meetings to no longer than 90 minutes (at 90 minutes your brain is toast so end the meeting for your break).
- Nothing before my sermon prep. Or your most important task. On the mornings I do sermon prep, I have no meeting before that. If I do, I’ll spend the whole sermon prep time thinking about the meeting I had. I want to wake up with a clear head and dive right into my sermon.
- Stick to hard deadlines. Everything has a deadline and an end. My sermon needs to be done at a certain time. Make a deadline for the end of your day and get out of work on time. Nothing is worse than things being passed til next week because you mismanaged your time or getting home late because you didn’t prioritize. Think about what happens the day before you go on vacation, you get everything done. Now, do that every week.
- Everything that is important gets put on the calendar. No matter what it is, it gets a minute on your calendar. I get asked how I motivate myself to workout, one answer is that it is the next thing on my calendar. If something is going to get done, no matter what it is, it needs to have a minute on your schedule, otherwise, it will get passed.
- Start with bible reading. First thing in the morning, meet with Jesus. This changes the mood and feel of the day.
- Then, spend 1 hour on reading for yourself. If you can work it into your schedule, read to grow for yourself. Read books that push your thinking on the gospel, leadership, theology, church, being a man or woman, whatever you need to grow in. Again, if you want to grow, it needs to have a space on your calendar.