As the holidays approach, so do the packed schedules. Am I right?! I personally feel as though I ran through November and am not wanting a repeat for December. Does anyone else feel like Thanksgiving possibly can’t be this week? Anyone?! Okay just me? Anyway…
As I’ve been pondering best practices of time management in my own life, I would like to share some of my thoughts on the subject in the context of financial partnership development. I’ve also added the advice of a few christian workers in the throws of intensely packed schedules.
If you have ever procrastinated partnership development in favor of getting the other thing done or just gotten tired of hearing the words “I’m busy” come out of your mouth – this post is for you! (in all reality, this post really is for me and maybe for you…)
noun: time management
the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work.
“time management is the key to efficient working”
7 TIPS FOR BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT
1. Keep a detailed calendar. Become familiar with the calendar on your smart phone (or computer) and start using it… EVERY DAY. Set multiple alarms (sometimes I set it to daily if it is urgent) for yourself so you are reminded of your tasks. If you aren’t a “scheduled type person”, strongly consider figuring out how to become one. Find some helps in the area of time management online if need be. Try out a daily method of entering calendar appointments and checking your calendar.
2. Get an accountability partner or a coach. It is easy to get behind on raising up a committed team. If you can find someone within your ministry context to hold you accountable. Ask that person to hold you accountable on multiple levels:
- Daily goals.
- Weekly goals (Sometimes it is better to commit to weekly goals instead of daily goals. However, some people work better with daily goals instead. Find out what works best for you and commit)
- Overall goal of when you want to be at 100% fully-funded.
Your accountability partner can be someone you work with, for, or even a good friend who can do a good job at motivating you. Try to be as transparent as possible with this person. As you go through highs and lows keep them involved and informed. Having someone to chat with about this season of life can be helpful in and of itself.
3. If you can cut back somewhere, do it. While raising your funds you may have other ministry assignments within your local church. You may also have multiple hobbies, small groups, or other things that take extra time out of your schedule. Find out which of those to keep and which of those to let go of in this season.
While raising up your team it may not be the time to say yes to joining the new softball team that your work is putting together. It may be time to ask your worship pastor if you can cut back on your commitment with the worship team to once a month. It may be the time for someone else to lead the small group at your church. Of course, ask God about your commitments. Realize that this season takes some time out of your schedule and is important to do correctly and relationally. If you can cut back on some commitments, do it.
4. White boards. Perhaps you are not so good about checking your iCal / Google Calendar, but you are a visual person. Enter the good ole’ white board! Find a space in your home that you see on a daily basis, and put up a dry erase board. Create weekly and daily goals to write up on that white board. Change the day goals daily and the week goals weekly. It always feels good at the end of the day to scratch things off the list!
5. Take a sabbath. Be kind to yourself during this season of life. Make sure to take time out for God, yourself, and for your family. Take one day a week for sabbath. Let it be a full day, and hop back in the other 6 days of the week.
6. Don’t do the thing I do. If I need to get a lot of things accomplished on my to-do list during a busy week, typically I work on everything but the hardest thing on the list first.
Consequently, if you are anything like me during a busy week or season of life, the first thing you’ll fall behind on is financial partnership development.
Let’s call that what it is: ole’ fashioned procrastination.
Here’s my suggestion if you have a problem with this: switch and reverse. If you START your work on the hard thing you will feel better than if you leave the hard thing for the LAST THING. If it helps, here’s some permission: you can still procrastinate! Just procrastinate the easier things instead of giving yourself mental trauma for a week by procrastinating the hardest thing on your list.
Warning: you may not like me much after this next one….
7. What’s your favorite Netflix show right now? If you can easily answer that question I may need to have a coaching moment with you:
NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR NEFLIX.
I know I know… hear me out though. As I mentioned in #3 and #5 – white space, flex-time, important commitments, and a weekly sabbath are all very important to adhere to during seasons of partnership development. I personally need scheduled white space in my routine. I also need to let my brain unwind after a complex week. However, scheduled productive white space is different than hours of Netflix binging.
To stay productive but to successfully unwind – watch out for time sucking habits such as Netflix or hours in front of Facebook. Try and limit the amount of downtime with those as your go-to’s. When you do seek out white space, seek out restful activities that are natural energy resources to you. For instance go have a cup of coffee with a dear friend, take a nap, go for a walk or a bike ride with your spouse or by yourself, play a board game with your family, work on a painting or home project, or play your guitar. Go with what brings life, energy, and fun back to you.
Also don’t forget, one of the most restorative things we can do with our time is spend time in front of God! Right?! Right.
Here are some other thoughts on Time Management from other itinerating christian workers:
TIPS FROM 7 OTHER CHRISTIAN WORKERS
Worker 1: I’m substitute teaching 4-5 days per week as I raise my budget. I did leave my super hectic reporting career because there’s pretty much no way I could handle all the nights and weekends while trying to schedule appointments and speaking engagements. So that’s something to consider – if you can, keep working but possibly cut back a little. Apart from that, prioritization is so key! Having a to-do list (I use the 2Do app) has helped a ton. I never get everything done that’s on my list, but it helps ensure I get done what has to be done on a certain day. And this may seem simple, but I also just started keeping my TV off for most of the day. I started looking for little time suckers and took steps to eliminate them. I didn’t sit for ours in front of the TV, but getting distracted here and there for a few minutes at a time added up!
Worker 2: Divide and conquer. It sounds so simple, but I feel like our generation can get so overwhelmed with huge tasks that we freeze in our tracks or don’t know where to start. Break your weekly tasks up into bitesize chunks. Send 5 emails. Get caught up on thank you notes. Make 10 calls, write newsletter. Write them down and cross it off the list. It really does help!
Worker 3: Lists are extremely helpful. Keeping a detailed planner that I take everywhere and being intentional with my time has also helped.
Worker 4: Say “Yes” to the planner! You never know when someone will call you back about an appointment and it’s best to have your schedule right in front of you. As a substitute teacher, I’ve had to have a planner anyway; I have a different job every day.
Worker 5: I am not a planner by any definition of the word but I have grown to rely on my online calendar very much. I do not make plans any more without checking it. And when I do make plans, I update it immediately. There is time in life, but sometimes we need to truly force ourselves to take advantage of it when it is there.
Never give up!
Worker 6: Know that it’s going to take time. More time than we’d like. We live in an instant society. Everything we do we expect immediate rewards or results. Don’t feel guilty if your fundraising journey takes longer than others, just don’t compare at all. Comparing more harmful/painful than helpful.
Remember God is using this time to prepare us in more ways than we even understand! So ask for patience, be content in all things, and rest in God’s timing rejoicing with others and not worrying about how fast or slow you get to the field.
Worker 7: I strongly recommend substitute teaching during support-raising season if you MUST work. With substitute teaching you are able to set MANY preferences. Specifically, which/how many days to devote to both subbing and support. At the end of the school day (for the most part) you don’t have work to take home with you! So many positives about substitute teaching, I could keep going, but won’t. (wink emoticon)
Do you have practices that help you in the area of time management? Share them in the comments please!