Friday, January 23, 2015

Time wasters

Whether one is a bivocational pastor, a fully-funded pastor, or one who works in another profession, we are all faced with time challenges.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do all the things we need to accomplish.  Our to-do list is often longer than the hours available.  We are often forced to make compromises in our use of time, and sometimes those consequences can lead to personal, financial, or relationship issues.

Each year I teach a course in our region's Church Leadership Institute called "Personal and Family Health."  The purpose of the class is to help people better balance the demands between their ministries and their personal lives.  We cover a broad range of topics in the four classes that make up the course, but in the first class we address the time challenges common to everyone.

The student's assignment for the second class is to list on a form I provide everything they do for one week in 15 minute increments.  They are to write a two page report on their findings.  The purpose of the assignment is to help them see that there may be pockets of time that could be used more effectively.  With very few exceptions, students report that they have identified numerous places where they are wasting time that could be better spent somewhere else.

Time management is really life management, and life management is really priority management.  When we set priorities around the major components of our lives and focus on accomplishing those priorities, it becomes much easier to effectively utilize our time.  The reality is that each of us have been given 24 hours a day, and our challenge is to use those 24 hours to their maximum potential.  In order to do that we need to identify the time-wasters that we allow to creep into our lives.  Some of those time-wasters may be
  • Unnecessary meetings that have no agenda and no real purpose.
  • Procrastination
  • Television
  • Cluttered work areas
  • Handling paper more than once
  • Misuse of social media
  • Misuse of cell phones
  • Doing things that should be delegated to someone else
  • Doing things that are not aligned with your personal or organizational vision
  • Allowing other people to set your agenda
There are many more items that could be added to this list.  What would you add?  I invite you to do the assignment my students do and list everything you do for one week in 15 minute increments and see if you learn anything about how you spend your time.  If you do, I would love for you to share with me your findings.

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