This article is a A proven plan to organize your life and ministry.
30 Tips to Get Organized
By: Danny R. Von Kanel
Multiple hats. Varied tasks. Most ministers struggle at juggling multifaceted ministry functions. Usually it boils down to: poor organizational skills.With a full-time church, family, writing commitments, and civic involvement, I have had to stay ahead of the curve.
The following 30 tips are a systematic process I’ve used for 25 years of ministry to stay organized ... and it works. The first five tips allow space, time, and uninterrupted planning.
1. Set aside day to get organized
Choose your least busy day of the week. Set aside that day to get organized. Ask office help to interrupt you for any reason that day except for extreme emergencies. Most of us will not take a day unless we put it on the calendar and plan to do nothing else. Making this decision identifies getting organized as a priority. We tend to follow through on decisions we deem significant.
2. Clean you desk
When the day arrives, first remove everything from your desk. A clean desk provides space to begin organizing your ministry. Once clean, it gives a subtle reminder that you are starting afresh. The act itself is a way of telling yourself you are making progress.If items exist on your desk that must be dealt with, place them in a file to be addressed later in this process. Clutter removed equals order made easy.
3. Screen calls
Ask your secretary to take all of your calls. Accept only calls that are an extreme emergency. Interruptions are the biggest hindrance to keeping an organizational focus. Once completing this day long process, such calls are less a hindrance because you will have allowed for a certain amount. But on this day, your calls must be screened.
4. Screen mail
Again, ask your secretary to hold your mail on this day. Most of what we receive in the mail is junk. That which isn’t will not cause major problems if put off for a day. By refusing to look at your mail allows for uninterrupted time. Uninterrupted time provides opportunity to fully focus on the tedious task of organizing for ministry.
5. Limit appointments to emergencies
Just as in your mail and telephone calls, put a limit on personal visits on your scheduled “get organized” day except for extreme emergencies. Close your office door. Tell your secretaryto tell walk-ins you are tied up but would be glad to talk with them tomorrow. Schedule an appointment just not on this day. Unless a death or serious accident by a church or familymember, keep your appointment with yourself and get organized. Believe me, you will be better equipped to deal with all appointments, emergency or otherwise, if you handle your emergency of poor organization. The next 25 tips are designed sequentially. Some are more in-depth than others but all are essential.
6. Determine your values
As people we tend to do things in relation to what we value. For instance, if our relationship with Jesus Christ is what we value most, then we will not do anything that will hinder that relationship. Likewise, if family is important, we will keep them and their needs foremost in our planning, time allotment, and priorities. Take time to list in order of importance what you value most.
7. Review the past; eliminate actions that don’t fit your values
Once identified, these were your time wasters. Also, reviewing past actions reveals what you valued in the past. Use of time, money, and energy always gives a clear indication of what was “really’ valued. If this exercise reveals a wide discrepancy from what you wrote down in step 7, repent and ask God’s help in living out the new values you’ve chosen.
8. Use one calendar
Using more than one calendar is asking for a ministerial train wreck. Dates have a way of making one calendar but not another. Avoid this calamity by using only one calendar. I use the Franklin Day Timer system. Any will do as long as room is available to keep dates of events, appointments, and other information important to your ministry.
9. Do a yearly calendar
Using your values as a guide, include appointments with you and God (quiet times, personal retreats, etc.) by writing them in month by month. Do the same with family (birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, etc.) As a minister, these two values must be included first in yearly planning. Nothing else really matters if God and family lose significance in your life.Next, go through your calendar and write in every weekly or monthly meeting required of you. Write in pencil other events, activities, or meetings that will require approval by someone or group before it becomes official. Lastly, write in other events of staff members that my require your interest and/or participation. Complete the full calendar year.
10. Write a general skeleton of the first quarters events
This framework should include basic information: time and location. If approval is needed, also list from whom and a date to secure that approval.
11. Write out specific details of the first months events
Return to the first month and concentrate on details. If a meeting you’re leading, write out an agenda. If an event, double check prior plans. More than likely, the event being a month or less away has been in the planning stages for months. If others are responsible, double check with theone in charge.
12. Review and add finishing touches to coming weeks activities
This step is the “wow” step. Though you have written out and double checked details of the first month, this step request you to take a new look at each meeting, activity, and event with the intent of adding something creative -- something memorable. It may be a door prize, unexpected guest, unforeseen decision, or an eye-catching drama, song, or power point. It’s an attempt to leave those attending spell-bound.
13. Set aside the first of each week to do weekly planning
This to-do list making should happen at a set time. Schedule the time for this on your weekly calendar. Again, do according to what you value.
14. Set aside the first day of each month to do monthly planning
The first five tips apply to this planning. Schedule this planning day monthly on your yearly calendar. Use step eleven as your guide.
15. Set aside the first day of each quarter to do quarterly planning
Again, the first five tips apply to this planning. Schedule this quarterly planning on your yearly calendar. Use step ten as a guide.
16. Set aside the first day of each year to do yearly planningIf your first day of the church year is January, avoid New Years but do it the next day or so. Put into practice the first five tips. Use step nine as a guide. Put next years yearly planningdate on the calendar.
17. Set aside the last day of June and December to review values in relationship to how they have been supported through daily work schedule.
Schedule this date. Use the results to change your values or alter actions supporting them.When what we do is in keeping with what we value, we are happier and a more productive minister. Don’t skip over this step.
18. Make all phone calls in a single time allotment
Wasted time, energy, and focus is lost when phone calls are made haphazardly throughout the day. You are less likely to miss making an important call when you make them all back-to-back.
19. Complete all correspondence in a specific time frame
As with phone calls, valuable time, energy, and focus is lost when we have to switch gears in mid-stream in order to write a letter. Doing all correspondence in one sitting allows for a single focus. Enlist your secretary to handle non-personal correspondence.
20. Delegate anything that someone else can do betterMost things of which we are not gifted takes longer to do and is of a lesser quality. Maximize others gifts by delegating such matters. You will be less stressed and more effective. They will fulfill their role in the body of Christ.
21. Clean desk at the end of the day
A clean desk has a subtle way of telling yourself and others you are an organized person. Clutter leaves us feeling overwhelmed.
22. Complete a “to-do list” for the next day’s work at the end of the day.
Leave your office with nothing but your daytimer showing tomorrow’s to-do list. Believe me, you’ll leave excited about what the next day offers -- feeling organized.
23. Plan 15 minute breaks
Breaks will revive a weary body and spirit. Stopping to get a glass of water, coke, or cup of coffee will give your mind a rest. You’ll return refreshed.
24. Get plenty of sleep and rest
Staying organized requires one to be focused. Weary bodies are unable to keep such a focus. A good nights sleep will maximize the effectiveness of your organizational efforts.
25. Remove or minimize stress
Quiet times with our Lord are essential in handling stress. God has a way of quieting our spirits. Be sure you are not creating unnecessary stress for yourself. Most churches expect awhole lot less of us than what we expect of ourselves.
26. Take a vacation
Effective organizers I know take vacations. They understand the importance of a rested mind, body, and spirit.
27. Remove or minimize distractions
Telephone calls should be screened. I don’t talk to any salesmen. Limit time used by walk-ins by standing up and slowly walking toward your office door when a reasonable time has passed. Use tip five as needed to address a steady stream of walk-in interruptions.
28. Be accountable to someone.
Accountability is necessary. Those of us who tend to be organizers have a way of getting programs ahead of people. An accountability partner can help point that out. They can also assist us in staying organized. By knowing our values, they can point our lapses in our actions.
29. Avoid going to extreme
Yes, one can be too organized. If all of your time is spent planning, plotting, and promoting, you’ve lost site of why you should be organized. Organization is meant to free you tominister to people -- not to entrap you to an office.
30. Evaluate your steps toward organization once a quarter
This includes more than looking at how well your values match your actions. It also involves examining the degree of success in saving time and being effective. An efficient way of analyzing this is to look at similar events, meetings or activities you had the prior year before implementing these 30 tips and comparing it to events, meetings, activities after their execution.
These 30 tips do not guarantee organizational perfection. They do promise you’ll be better organized in ministry if put into practice. May that be the case for you.
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