People vs. The To-Do List
I was actually planning on blogging about something totally different this week, but God laid this on my heart today. I love it when He does that. People vs. the to-do list is a constant struggle for many of us in ministry. We all tend to lean naturally towards one or the other. Think about the pastoral staff at your church for a moment. You can probably go around the room and say if someone is more people-oriented or task-oriented. We all know that in ministry we have to do both. If we ignore the to-do list, have a coffee meeting every day, and only love on people, our ministries would fall apart. There would be no services, events, and nothing would ever get done. On the other hand, if we neglect people, close our office doors, and only work on our to-do lists, there would be no one to minister to. People are the reason we do what we do.
So, that brings us to the big question, how can we balance both?
I believe it starts with being intentional about tending to the side you don't naturally lean on. Take a moment right now and think about it. What do you usually spend more time with: your to-do list or people? I am naturally a task-oriented person. That doesn't mean I don't love people. It simply means that if I have a lot of items on my to-do list this week, I'm more likely to work on those tasks and say no to spending time with people. Unfortunately, there are too many busy weeks with FULL to-do lists to always say no to people. Whether you are task-oriented or people-oriented you need to learn to balance both to be most effective in ministry.
Here are some tips to help balance both:
1. Organize your to-do list.
First, if you aren't making a to-do list weekly you should probably start now. To-do lists are great for organizing all the tasks that need to get done, and they help us not forget anything important. Sometimes to-do lists can get super long and overwhelming. My suggestion is to set priority levels on tasks, write them in the order they need to get done, or even write the deadline next to the task. There are always things on my list that need to get done today, tomorrow, this week, and even next month. Obviously some of those items can wait until next week if I don't get to them this week. I just bought an awesome notepad from Target for $3, and it asks me to set my top 3 priorities at the top of the list. This helps me remember that if I don't get anything else done this week, I have to get those three things taken care of.
2. Set a day or days for no meetings.
I am still working on this one, but I feel like it is super important for me to have at least one day I can count on to be able to just work on my to-do list. The day that will most likely be my no meeting day is Thursday. You have to figure out which day is best for you. That's only the first step. Once you choose your day, communicate out to the staff and people in your ministry that you will not be taking meetings on that day. Do your best to stick to the same day or days and be consistent in saying no to meetings.
3. Put people on your to-do list.
For those of you who are more task-oriented, like myself, you may need to go as far as to put people on your to-do list. I know that may sound silly, but if you are more task-oriented this may be a trick that works for you. I put meetings with people and calling people on my to-do list so I prioritize them, and don't forget about them.
4. Delegate what you can.
I know this isn't new advice, but it's still something many of us need to work on, myself included. There are those items on your to-do list that only YOU can do, but there are plenty of tasks that someone else could do for you. Look at your to-do list and put an "M" for me next to the items only you can take care of, and put an "O" for others next to all the rest of the items. You will be surprised how much time you can free up if you don't try to do EVERYTHING all by yourself. That is time you can now spend building relationships with people in your ministry.
5. Just say NO!
I know some people who are great at saying no, and maybe even say it too much. I know a lot more people in ministry who tend to say yes to way too many things. We get so overwhelmed that we don't even enjoy ministry anymore, and there is definitely nothing left for us to pour into others. You can start with saying no to one thing a week, and go from there. Use your own common sense when saying no. There will always be things we can't say no to, but we say yes to a lot of optional opportunities as well.
I don't think it will ever be easy and effortless to balance tasks and people in ministry, but if we take some intentional steps in the right direction each week it will get easier.
What are you doing to be intentional about balancing all of the tasks and people in your ministry?