This post was written by Melissa Hendrickson, an INCM Blog Team member.
Time management looks different for everyone, but these three rhythms can help simplify any schedule.
1. Yearly Planning
When thinking about how best to manage your time, it is helpful to begin by mapping out what the year ahead will look like for you and the ministry you run.
Your personal life and professional life intersect, and this means both areas need your attention to maintain balance and rest.
We can’t know everything that will happen in our lives or ministry over the course of a year, but we can name what we do know and use that as a launching point to manage our time well.
What things will happen in your personal life this year that you know will take more time than a line item on your calendar?
These are the items that we put on our calendar from 2 pm to 5 pm on a specific day, but for which the preparation leading up to that event might actually take days, weeks, or even months to accomplish.
- New Baby
- Milestone Birthday
The mental, emotional, and physical energy required to prepare for these events is significant, so it is important to consider what days and times you need to block out leading up to these events.
Planning annual events for your ministry means checking in with the other leaders in your organization so the events you are planning don’t overlap with other departments.
You want the members of your community to be excited about upcoming events, not dreading an overfull schedule.
It is also important to know what is happening in the schools your families attend.
- What sports season will your event fall during?
- Do you need to choose a different day of the week for your event so that it accommodates more families?
- Is there a big community play happening on the same night as your scheduled event?
As you plan out what ministry events you want to do throughout the year, you can look back at your personal life events and see if you need to rearrange any of your proposed dates to better balance your personal and professional calendars.
2. Monthly Planning
Once you have your year mapped out, you can begin to look ahead and consider the time needed to prepare for each scheduled event.
Go event by event and estimate how much time you think it will take for you to arrange all the details for each activity or meeting.
This is where your monthly planning will come into play.
Some events, like VBS, will require six months of preparation, while a quarterly meeting with your volunteers might only require a couple of hours of preparation.
One way to make the most of your time is by planning ahead.
If you know your VBS will be in July and it will take six months of preparation, then it should be on your monthly calendar for January-June.
Each month should include details and deadlines for what needs to be done.
3. Weekly Planning
Those monthly plans will then be broken down into weekly goals.
These weekly goals should be clear and measurable.
For instance: “Buy VBS curriculum this week.” Whose job will it be to get this done? Yours? A team member?
Using a weekly checklist can be helpful to check off each task that was completed that week and to note any tasks that need to be added to next week’s list because they aren’t done yet.
If you have mapped out your schedule, been honest about how much time things take, and planned out what needs to get done each week, but you still find yourself with too few hours in the day, it is time to assess what is happening.
- Are you carrying more than is yours to carry?
- Do you need to add members to your team to help shoulder the work?
- Do you need to take events off the calendar to increase your margin?
- These questions need to be asked about your personal life and your professional life.
- Rest and margin are essential parts of time management. You are one person with a full life. It is important for you to know your boundaries. When do you work? When do you rest?
Managing your time well begins with knowing how much time you have available and then being wise with how you use that time.
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Melissa Hendrickson has served children and their families for the past 26 years. She recently founded holyformed.org and is writing and teaching on Spiritual Formation. Melissa has been married for 21 years and has two sons. The oldest is in college, and the youngest is in high school. Melissa loves to read a good book, enjoys a nice cup of Rooibos tea, and always looks forward to traveling with her family.