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.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Finally Starting to Get Things Done

I've been on a personal productivity journey for a long time. As a pastor, it seemed that everyone and everything "needed" my attention - NOW!

I had 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" that I'll talk about in a later post. All of these things helped me to focus more energy and time on mission-critical concerns.

I used a paper calendar and day planner system. But I was still disorganized. A new Palm Pilot helped me for a while (because it would beep at me, telling me when I needed to do the next thing). But frankly, I didn't keep up any kind of cohesive organizational system. And things 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).

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 time wasn't really the problem. I still felt guilty and paranoid about the cracks in my ministry.

I turned a major corner about six months ago when my wife gave me David Allen's Getting Things Done. It is subtitled "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity." It promised a "mind like water." Before reading Getting Things Done, I had never used a productivity system (lists, Palm, calendar, roles & goals, etc.) successfully for more than a month or so before everything fell apart.

Getting Things Done has truly revolutionized my ministry. It's a whole seamless system 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. I remember all of my appointments. I turn in my worker's reports on time (much to the amazement of my regional denominational office). 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.

I'll be writing about what works for me. I'll write about balancing work and life, sermon planning and preparation, Getting Things Done, developing vision, the pastor's spiritual life, prioritizing, accountability, family life, church administration, and time management. I'll be sharing tips 'n tricks as well as documents, processes, and worksheets.

Visit the Juggling Sheep Bookstore to look at some great time management and personal productivity resources for pastors.

If you leave comments about what works for you, we can make this blog a great resource for others.