in the trenches
I (Kurt) am writing this article a bit early because on the day that you read my “office tips” I will be three hours away from my office camping and riding dirt bikes in the desert with my family and friends. So before reading any further, stop and admit that you are a little jealous that you are reading emails while I’m out doing manly stuff.
Confession time: I’m not an incredibly disciplined office-time kind of guy. However, I have developed a few tricks over the years that help me make the most of my time behind the youth pastor desk.
The first 30-minutes are the most important minutes.
I’ve learned the best way to maximize my time is to take time on the front end to strategically organize my day. What important tasks can I simply not afford to postpone one more day?
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What meetings do I need to prep for? What people need a few minutes of my time? What long-term projects do I need to work on? Planning my day almost always makes my day more productive.
Arrive early and/or stay late.
I’ve learned that the most productive hour(s) in the office are the hour(s) that nobody else is around! When the church phone isn’t ringing, the janitor isn’t vacuuming, and the copier isn’t humming I find myself way more focused and can usually get twice as much work done in half the time it normally takes.
Know your rhythm.
Everybody has a unique “rhythm” to which they most effectively march. Some folks are morning people; some are night people. Some folks like to tackle the tough projects right out of the gate, while others like to “warm up” with stuff that is more routine or mindless. Some of you need to get out of the office for lunch, and others do better if you bring a sack lunch and eat at your desk. Figure out your unique rhythm and try to work within it as much as possible.
Church office hours—what a great subject! And while this might not specifically apply to everyone getting the newsletter, we’re hoping there are some principles that will help everyone, whatever their role is in youth ministry.
I (Josh) am going to take on 3 things that I think can help make your office hours more meaningful and effective. Tomorrow Kurt will be back with his 3, too.
So how do you make the administrative side of ministry work? Here are a few ideas that have helped me a ton.
Learn how to have organized communication.
Make your preferred method of communication known.
If you are a phone person, put your phone number everywhere and on everything. If you hate the phone (like me!) make sure that everything points to the way you work best. In my case, email is the most effective way to manage the incoming streams of information, complaints, and requests. I still check voicemail occasionally and have learned to live with another inbox (thanks, Facebook) but I want to make sure people know where I’m most available and where they can get the best results. Otherwise someone may be expecting an immediate phone call in return when that priority is much further down on my list. Go public with how you tick.
Don’t let others manipulate your time.
Every meeting has a starting time; why shouldn’t it have an ending time as well? Meetings, committees, and unexpected drop-ins have a way of eating up an enormous chunk of our day. And I need more Facebook time (just kidding). So when you start a meeting, lay out the goals and the time they need to be met by.