As Peter Drucker—my favorite mentor that I’ve only connected with a few times—has famously said on ensuring time is well spent, “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”
It’s surprising how much of good leadership relies on good time management. There are always many, many possible things to do, and many demands on the time of ministry leaders. Yet we must all make decisions about how to best use our time during particular seasons of ministry. There are certainly times for putting out fires or dealing with crises or taking on difficult challenges, but if we are spending most of our time that way, we don’t have the availability for long-range planning for the development of the ministry and its health—or our own development and health.
Deciding how to spend your time
It’s a matter of choices and priorities. Each leader may make somewhat different choices, depending on his or her gifts, best contributions, and season of life and ministry. Here are some questions to help you determine the best use for your time:
- What will make the most difference?
- Who else can do ____________?
- What can you stop doing without anyone even noticing?
- Will doing _________ further the overall mission most effectively?
- What are you sensing from the Holy Spirit?
Assess how you use your time
Start by taking an inventory of how you spend your time. For one week, write down at the end of each day how much time you spent on various activities. Keep a record, and then at the end of the week, assess it. Think you are too busy to keep track? There are apps to help! We recommend the free basic plan on Toggl.
- Where is your time going?
- What surprises you?
- To what degree does your time spent align with your priorities?
- What might need adjusting?
Talk with a friend or a coach about how you can make changes to better use your time. Then meet with them periodically for accountability.
Also recognize that you will need to make changes and adjust as you go. The best and most effective use of your time now may look quite different than it did five years ago… or than it will five years from now.
Strategies to assure your time is well spent
- Keep a record of how you spend your time.
- Assess that record for alignment with priorities.
- Assess that record for effective accomplishment of goals.
- Make adjustments where needed.
- Be intentional about how you spend your time.
- Be accountable to someone else about how you spend your time.
Prioritize the priorities
However you choose to use your time, be intentional about it. You want to spend more time on items that are more important and that move you closer to your goals.
As a ministry leader, you need to keep your family relationships, health, spiritual lives, and ministry work on track so your life pace is sustainable and effective over the long haul. A big part of that is managing your time well and ensuring that you spend it in line with your priorities. Let how you manage your time reflect the reality of your true priorities.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Making sure your time is well spent can mean the difference between success and mediocrity, whether in your career or your life outside of work. Imagine the difference that being able to achieve more–with less stress–could make! If you are ready to get serious, we highly recommend the following resources:
Time Management Profile: This competency-based questionnaire has been designed to help you understand more about your relative skills or abilities in seven categories that contribute to effective time management. This will help you determine where you could make changes to improve your ability to effectively manage your time.
Time Management Skills Builder: Managing our personal time to get the most out of our work day – and of course, our life – involves using the minutes in each day as effectively as you can. This booklet will help you to do that.
Time Management Coaching Guide and Storyboard: A fantastic resource for coaches looking to help their clients with time management.
An Undivided Heart
An undivided heart is not something you can force on yourself or others and this book, An Undivided Heart: Living and Loving like Jesus, isn’t an instruction manual with step-by-step procedures. It is a journey, unique to you, that begins with your unique relationship with Jesus. Living with an undivided heart will naturally lead to living an undivided life. Cultivation of the heart flows into action.