I wish I had more time.
I’ve been working in full-time ministry for almost 10 years, and since day one, my biggest complaint has always been: “I wish I had more time.”
I always find myself saying things like:
– If I had more time, I would make it to schools more often to eat lunch with my teens.
– If I had more time, I would invest in building relationships with parents.
– If I had more time, I would reach out to more potential adult leaders.
– If I had more time, I would equip young leaders to step up and lead.
– If I had more time, I would be at every football game, wrestling tournament, and theater production one of my teens was in.
– If I had more time, I would dream and vision for the future.
– If I had more time, I would develop a more thorough follow up procedure.
– If I had more time, I would just hang out with students.
Year after year, no matter what parish I was working in, I had the same struggle: Not enough time to do the kind of ministry I wanted to be doing. Just recently, I figured out why.
Here’s my solution…
Or, more accurately, my three solutions:
Batch. Delegate. Outsource.
Michael Hyatt describes batching as a simple “form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction”. The result of batching, he says, is that it “increases your productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while decreasing fatigue, procrastination, and stress”.
That sounds like exactly what I want: increased productivity and creativity with less stress.
So what is it? It’s grouping similar tasks together in “batches” and accomplishing them all in one sitting.
Here’s a few examples:
Returning phone calls and replying to emails. Start off everyday by dedicating time to returning calls and replying to emails. Focus in and get them all done first thing. Then don’t check your messages or your email again until after lunch (when you set aside time to handling any/all messages or emails that you got in the first half of your day).
Most people that object to this strategy do so because there’s a “delay” in your response to an email or phone call. But let’s be honest, it;s very rare that you receive an email that is so urgent that the 3 hours will make a difference.
Bills, receipts and check requests. Stick a box on your desk and drop in all the receipts, bills, or invoices you acquire during the week. Pick a day and time and make that your weekly time to process through all of those types of things.
Social media posting. Spend 30-45 minutes every Monday morning to schedule out social media postings for the week (at least on Twitter and Facebook – for Instagram you’d need to invest in a paid service like Schedugr.am).
Think through the receptive tasks you do every day (or at least weekly) and figure out a way to batch them together. Not only will you be more focused on getting those things done, but you’ll save time: studies show that it takes at least 15 minutes to refocus when you change tasks or get distracted.
You’ve got a wealth of talents at your fingertips. Between your adult volunteers, parents and teens, you’d be amazed by the skillset you have direct access to.
Here’s a headache-proof process for delegating:
- Make a list of all the tasks/jobs that need to get done that don’t require you to be the one doing them (filing, organizing, cleaning, shopping, cooking, collecting, copying, editing, etc).
- Make a list of any adult leaders, parents or teens involved in your ministry that have the drive and follow-thru to get things done without you having to micro-manage them (and that would be willing to help).
- Match up tasks and names – be sure to keep in mind the persons skills and availability.
- Call each person you’ve assigned a task and ask them for help: be specific about exactly what you need and why you chose them.
- Set a date/time for completion and let them go. Be sure to tell them you’re available to help or answer questions, but don’t micromanage them (you won’t be saving time that way anyway). If it’s a larger task, set milestones and check-in points.
- After they complete the task, thank them multiple times. Thank them right when they finish the task and again a few days later. If appropriate, thank them publicly for their help. If it’s a big task, consider giving them a token of appreciation: a $10 Starbucks card goes a long way.
Note: You’ll get a much higher success rate by asking people individually and specifically than by sending out a “I need help!” email.
Some tasks cannot and should not be delegated:
– You should be present for any tasks that involve the handling of money.
– Don’t delegate a task that requires a skill that your people don’t have (don’t let a technologically-challenged volunteer edit your videos, for example).
– Tasks that require a professional quality result should be outsourced not delegated.
There is no better way to free up some extra time to do ministry than to outsource the tasks that keep you from doing the ministry you want to do.
A quick comment on outsourcing in general: A lot of people associate a negative connotation to the word “outsource”. To them it seems fraudulent, lazy, or even un-American. They’ve got visions of six year olds in sweatshops or taskmasters banging drums. That’s not what I’m advocating. I’m all about hiring experts, paying them fairly, and taking things I’m not good at (or don’t have time for) off of my plate.
So what should you outsource? Who should you outsource to? How does it work? How much does it cost? And, most importantly, why outsource?
I want to hit the last question first:
You were called into youth ministry (or whatever other ministry you do) because God saw potential and gifts in you that are assets to your ministry. God wants to use you to reach people far from Him, serve those in need, equip and educate students who have fallen in love with Him, and empower people to live out their faith and share the Gospel.
God doesn’t call people into ministry because they have strong administrative skills, have an eye for design or a knack for organization. Those types of things are important, but they are NOT your ministry. You might be good at those things, but you are NOT the only one who can do them.
By outsourcing tasks that support and facilitate your ministry but ARE NOT MINISTRY, you’re freeing yourself up TO DO MINISTRY.
What if you had TWO EXTRA HOURS EACH WEEK to pour into your ministry, what would you do?
I asked that same question on Facebook, here were a few of the responses:
What? Who? How?
I’ve spent a lot of time working through those questions, and I think I’ve come up with a solution that works really well for my ministry – and I think it’ll work great for you. So…
I’ve put together a step by step guide to outsourcing for ministry – click the button below, and I’ll send it to you.
What about you: what would you do with 2 extra hours to focus in on your ministry?