How I Structure my Week

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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.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Jason Johnson on 5 things Christians should stop staying.

We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most…

David Romano on God, gays and advice.

As a Christian walking away from the homosexual lifestyle, I have some do’s and don’ts I’d like you to keep in mind when addressing this issue.

Tim Challies on Mobility, Pornography and Privacy.

Did you buy your children an iPod or iPhone or other mobile device for Christmas? You just bought them the major porn-consumption device. So what are you going to do to protect them from it? One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2013 concerned The Porn-Free Family. I will be returning to the subject in the new year, but for now, I want to point out an important fact: Most of our attempts to block pornography and to use accountability software are effective only or primarily on desktop devices.

5 ways to relax on your Christmas break.

So you’re off for Christmas, but some of you for sure are going to have a hard time winding down. I know I do. Being a driven kind of person, the idea of doing nothing but resting is unsettling for me. But rather than secretly doing email while your family isn’t looking, pacing the house because you can’t sit still or being agitated most of the time, there is an alternative.

Brian Howard on How to remember 2013 and set goals for 2014.

Welcome to the day after Christmas! Each year between Christmas and New Years I walk through a simple exercise to help me think through the past year and plan for the coming year.  I originally learned this exercise from David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, and have customized it over the years. My wife and I both walk through it, and I use it with those I coach as well. Allocating an hour or two over the next week to walk through this exercise will help you to start the new year well.

Jon Acuff on The empty shelf challenge.

Empty a shelf in your house somewhere. Every book you read from now until December 31, 2014 goes on the shelf. (Waiting until January 1st to do something awesome is stupid and fake.) At the end of the year, I guarantee you will have read more than you did in 2013. Best of all, you’re scientifically more likely to accomplish something when you have people working on it with you.

Justin Taylor on How to read the whole bible in 2014.

Do you want to read the whole Bible? The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Rebecca Watson on 6 ways to get more done. These are helpful ideas to be more productive.
  2. What churches can learn from Chick Fil-A.
  3. Thom Rainer on Millenials reject Christians fighting. I’m a pastor and I’m tired of Christians fighting, which makes me wonder how sick our culture is of it.
  4. 5 ways a pastor can handle people leaving their church.
  5. Will Mancini on How to reach 20-something’s. Great profile of what makes Austin Stone so strong.
  6. How Andy Stanley and Tim Keller preach to Non-Believers. Great profile of two great communicators.
  7. Brian Howard on How to find a great youth pastor. This is so true.
  8. An open letter to Mark Driscoll. This whole thing is sad that he would lie on social media to push his book forward.
  9. How to be leaders of meaning in an age of information overload.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Tim Challies on When God says to get drunk.
  2. One leader’s system for getting things done.
  3. Sam Rainer on Healthy churches are messy.
  4. How to craft a sunday service to engage those who are not engaged.
  5. Scott Williams on Why so many leaders are like Miley Cyrus.
  6. Reflections on planting 2 churches.

Links to End the Week On

  1. Charles Stone on Preaching sticky sermons. Great post. 
  2. Brad Lomenick on How to get things done. Super helpful. 
  3. 4 reasons to preach through books of the Bible. This sums up why we preach like we do at Revolution. 
  4. Leadership training that works
  5. Scott Williams 5 reasons you should tweet in church
  6. 5 books you should read if you preach or if you want to preach
  7. If you are a parent at Revolution Church, here is why you need to pick up the family bible study each week. 
  8. Using Pinterest for the glory of God