Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Guest Blogging on JustPastors.com

This week I'll be guest blogging over at JustPastors.com. They've asked me to write about Time Management for Clergy - specifically GTD. And I thought... hmm, that's what I do...

I'll also be posting those same entries over here (even though some of the information will be a repeat of what I've done here previously).


Today's Post - Finally Getting Things Done

Yesterday, as I was flying back from Minneapolis, the guy in the seat next to me was telling me how he was on the pastor search committee at his church and they were having a very difficult time finding just the right pastor. Everyone on that committee had a different idea of what the pastor’s job description should be.

And pastors are caught in the middle. There’s no agreed-upon job description for a pastor. So some pastors hide out and don’t do anything. Other pastors work so hard to please everyone that they end up losing their family, their sanity, or their sobriety.
A pastor has a lot of things to juggle - meetings, sermons, strategic planning, administration, training, evangelism, family, prayer, study, visitation, sudoku… Who has time for everything??!

The pastor needs to become an expert in time management and workflow, in order to get the low-level things done and make room for the more important things in ministry. Here’s a bit of my time management journey.

My supervising pastor (when I was an intern) had me keep all of my appointments in a calendar I kept with me all the time. I really think that was my first step to becoming organized.

Then I read Stephen Covey’s Personal Management Classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and realized that I needed to do the important things instead of just the urgent things. I picked up some tips and tricks about designing weekly roles and goals. And that helped me to say “yes” to the best things by saying “no” to other good things.

I read all of Kenneth Blanchard’s One Minute Manager books, finding The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey to be particularly helpful for empowering others, delegating tasks, and not micromanaging. I developed a set of “One Minute Goals” to keep me on track with my real priorities. All of these things helped me to focus more energy and time on mission-critical concerns.

Even though I had read some major personal productivity books, used a calendar and a day planner system, I was still disorganized.

A new PalmPilot helped me for a while (because it would beep at me, telling me when I needed to do the next thing). But frankly, I quit paying attention to the beeps and then I quit using it. And important ministry needs still slipped through the cracks.

My office was a mess. I had a paper inbox that was piled 8 inches high with articles, board minutes, mail, catalogs, etc. And I didn’t have a working filing system.

I constantly felt guilty. I was stressed out. It seemed like I couldn’t even keep up with myself, let alone the 50 or 60 families I was supposed to be shepherding spiritually. Every time the phone would ring, I’d get a sinking feeling of paranoia - just hoping it wasn’t someone I’d forgotten an appointment with (or someone asking me to help with something else). And the overload paralyzed me.

So we created ministry teams in the church and started writing procedures for everything the church did on a regular basis (thanks to 18 months of personalized coaching from the the Ministry Advantage Pastor’s Coaching System). It freed up my time, but it turns out “needing more time” wasn’t really the problem. I still felt guilty and paranoid about the things falling through the cracks in my ministry.

I turned a major corner about nine months ago when my wife gave me David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done (GTD). It is subtitled “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” It promised a “mind like water.” Before reading “Getting Things Done,” I had never been able to successfully use a productivity system (lists, PalmPilot, calendar, roles & goals, etc.) for more than a month or so before everything fell apart.

This book has truly revolutionized my ministry. GTD is not some expensive program or difficult new skill set. It’s merely a set of principles that integrate skills you already have (filing, making appointments, writing lists, etc.) into a seamless workflow of personal productivity and organization. You can use it at work or at home. You can use it with hi-tech PDAs or lo-tech paper planners.

Now I’m stress-free. Really. I remember all of my appointments. I turn in my worker’s reports on time (much to the amazement of my conference officials). I am productive when I’m at work. I’m doing better at making time for the important things like family and spiritual development. And I have a better sense of balance and priorities, helping me to see the big picture and do more effective strategic planning.

Over this next week, I’ll be writing about “Getting Things Done” for pastors. I’ve really come to see this as a major stewardship issue. Pastors must learn to master time just to keep up with mundane ministry tasks. If you’re not doing that, you can’t even begin to be faithful to the bigger picture visions and plans that God has in store for you.

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