Youth ministry productivity is a tough thing to manage.
Time management is an issue for any youth pastor, and the best way to stay organized is by utilizing to-do lists.
To-do lists help you stay focused on the days and weeks ahead, and guard against forgetfulness when juggling multiple things. I highly recommend the Getting Things Done Method. See flow chart for details. (I stole this flow chart from Rhett Smith a few months ago). I currently have the software application NextAction on my blackberry, which greatly helps me organize my projects. There are also a lot of great productivity iphone apps out there.
It is essential to write out both your long and short time to do lists. Here are a few other to do lists:
Ta-Da Lists – http://tadalist.com
– Backpack – http://backpackit.com
– Remember The Milk – http://rememberthemilk.com
Another great productivity habit is to track your time. Find patterns in your youth pastor and youth ministry productivity. When during the day are you most productive? Find times in your day where you are most productive. When are the best time for you to have office hours?
For example here is a good example of how I use my time as a small church youth pastor:
15 hours a week youth programs (including before and after time)
8 hours a week preparing for talks / sessions/ programs
2 hours a week think about small church youth ministry strategies and future planning
4 hours a week meeting staff
4 hours a week doing 1-to-1 stuff
hopefully 4-5 hours a week doing admin stuff, in reality probably a bit more.
Here are some slick websites that can help a youth pastor track his or her time:
– SlimTimer – http://slimtimer.com
– Tick – http://tickspot.com
– Harvest – http://getharvest.com
– PunchyTime – http://punchytime.com
Dealing with Distraction
If a youth pastor can learn how to deflect, delegate, and listen to their distractions, then he/she will be very effective and productive. The goal is to take immediate action. The GTD flow chart greatly helps with how I know what to do when things are distracting me.
• Starting the day on the right foot
Start your days strong. Get up early, have your cup of coffee and your quiet time, and get your butt in the office and get ready to work.
A morning routine might include waking up at a reasonable hour, having a shower and getting dressed, and being at your desk before 9am. This will help you avoid procrastinating on the couch (or in bed). Get up, get your day in motion, and don’t dink around.
• Strict deadlines
Don’t be lazy. Bottom line get the job done. Set up real deadlines.
• Set regular office hours
Set up specific office hours where you will be available to return phone calls and emails. Make sure you notify not only the church secretary of your office hours, but also the parents and students. Setting up strict office hours reinforces that you have great boundaries. People know when and when you aren’t available.
• Have a set day off.
Give yourself a day off and do nothing productive. (this will be tough for you type A personalities) By giving yourself a day off, will greatly contribute to the rest of your week’s productivity. If you are well rested and relaxed, more than likely you will have more emotional energy and determination to get things done.