There’s no denying that there needs to be more time for pastors to get everything accomplished. They’re called to lead a church, minister to members, reach out to the community and manage daily tasks.
With their limited time, it’s hard to do everything without feeling overwhelmed. Through a variety of productivity techniques, pastors not only gain more time, but feel better too.
While it may take a few weeks to implement these techniques, it’s well worth trying. After all, who doesn’t want to get more out of their limited time?
Delegate Whenever Possible
Delegation is a pastor’s best friend. However, you shouldn’t make the common mistake of just delegating tasks you don’t want to do. Instead, focus on actual jobs that others may be more qualified to handle.
For example, many pastors hire a virtual assistant to field emails, handle calls, deal with daily administrative paperwork and so on. Larger churches may already have staff on hand to handle many of these jobs.
Pastors don’t have to handle everything on their own, though, no matter how big or small the church is. You already have so much to deal with and it’s not uncommon for pastors to feel unworthy because of it. Taking some time to go through all the tasks you handle each week will help you see what you can and can’t delegate.
Refusing to delegate just leads to burnout. Taking time to reach out to members and volunteers could give you valuable hours back each week. Offer to train volunteers who want to learn. Yes, it takes extra time now, but saves time later.
Schedule The Week Ahead Of Time
One of the easiest ways to get more time for pastors is to schedule the week ahead of time. Instead of just trying to hope for the best each morning, have your week planned before you even start. This is a great task to handle Sunday evening or Monday.
The way you plan your week affects how much you can get done. Senior Pastor Central breaks down exactly how to schedule a busy week for maximum results. It may take several weeks to get into the swing of things, but once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.
You can add or change things as you go, but starting each day knowing what you need to do helps immensely. You can even have a cloud-based calendar so others know when you have free time for meetings.
Finish Sermons By Monday
This might sound terrifying, but imagine if you don’t put off doing your sermon until Friday or Saturday. You put it together on Monday and all you have left to do is review it at the end of the week and once more on Sunday morning.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to follow a template. If your sermons follow a regular format, you’ll be able to put together impactful sermons in far less time. This leaves more time for practicing and ministering.
If you have trouble coming up with themes, ask your members to help. Ask them to submit ideas for upcoming sermons. You’ll have so many ideas that you won’t have to deal with writer’s block anymore. Plus, you’ll know your sermons are perfect for what your members are currently dealing with.
Take A Few Days Off
This point might sound counterproductive, but don’t you feel better when you’re well-rested? If you’re working seven days a week, you’re probably not getting the rest you need. Instead of being productive, you’re tired and aren’t able to give your best each day.
Of course, even God rested, so why shouldn’t you? Schedule your week to take one or two days off every single week. You can’t give your members and church family what they need if you don’t take care of yourself first.
With a few restful days each week, you’ll have a clearer mind and more energy for the rest of the week. This means you’ll get more done in less time.
For many pastors, Friday and Saturday make the most sense. However, schedule the days that work best for your needs. The last thing you want is for your days off to cause you more stress. Just make sure you don’t give in and try to sneak in a little work on your days off.
Tackle High Energy Tasks Early
As the day goes on, you tend to get more tired. This is just natural. In order to get more time for pastors, focus on high energy tasks early in the day. A task that normally should take an hour may take two or three if you wait until mid-afternoon.
Plus, every pastor has tasks they aren’t exactly excited about. Tackling these first means you don’t spend the rest of the day dreading them. Get them out of the way and you’ll feel more accomplished. This leads to more energy and the ability to accomplish far more than you thought you could.
Shut Out Anything Unnecessary
Much like everyone else, pastors are guilty of getting distracted easily. Maybe you’re trying to keep track of every comment on your church’s Facebook page or responding to every ding when a new email comes in.
Have set periods throughout your day when you turn off all notifications. You can’t stay focused when you have notifications constantly going off on your phone and/or computer.
The same is true for people coming in and out of your office. Place a sign on your office door that you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an absolute emergency. It may take a few weeks before people realize the difference between an emergency and just a regular question.
When you have limited time available, you can’t afford distractions. In fact, it takes over 23 minutes to refocus and get back into a task after a distraction.
Minister Remotely When Possible
Thanks to the Internet, it’s not possible to minister remotely. Whenever possible, try to reach out to people without having to drive all over town. Schedule those trips for specific days or in emergency situations.
Instead, blog about issues that your members and website visitors may face. This allows you to answer questions and guide people 24/7 as they read your blogs. Post on social media with suggested reading and inspiring messages that help people find their way.
Of course, don’t forget that you can use technology to minister live. Host live streaming events on Facebook for free. You may find that more members would prefer to participate in these versus individual meetings. This frees up more time for pastors.
While face-to-face time is still vital, doing some ministering online gives you more time in your day for meetings and preparing your sermons.
Learn To Say No
Pastors often feel like they shouldn’t say no. Their job is to help others, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your health and well-being. A shocking 77% of pastors feel that their job places unrealistic demands on them.
However, some of those demands simply come from people expecting their pastor to always say “yes.” As hard as it may be, you have to say “no” sometimes. If you really don’t have the time or it’s something someone else can and should be handling, say “no.”
Offer a reason why if possible or ask them to speak with someone else about it. It’s impossible for a pastor to do everything everyone asks. You can’t please everyone.
Whenever you delegate jobs to others, add their names to a list along with their job description. This will help people know who to go to so you don’t have to say “no” as often.
An easy way to gain more time for pastors is to automate tasks. Everything from emails to scheduling can be automated. Many of the time-consuming administrative tasks can be automated. Anytime you can check off to-do lists items without having to lift a finger, it’s a win for your ministry.
For Ministry Resources lists five common things pastors can automate, such as welcome emails, email responses and volunteer scheduling. You can also automate social media posts, blog posts (at least scheduling multiple posts in advance), assigning team tasks and prayer requests (set an automatic trigger to notify you when someone sends in a prayer request).
Even though each automated task may only save a few minutes, those minutes add up to hours every day.
Teach Others To Minister
A common mistake pastors make is not teaching others to minister. Pastors have to have disciples. These are the people who help take on jobs from the pastor to give more time to pastors.
Your church’s members can become disciples with the right training. Take those who are interested in ministering to others in the community with you as visit sick or grieving members. You can share some of the ministering duties with these new disciples.
As you train them, they’ll become invaluable in helping you do more. From working with other volunteers to handling issues between members, teaching others to minister saves you time and boosts a sense of community and faith among your members.
Reduce And Shorten Meetings
Meetings always take way too long. In fact, reducing the number of meetings each week is one of the absolute easiest ways to give more time to pastors.
Take a look at the meetings you attend each week. How many of them actually require you to be there? For instance, volunteer meetings don’t really need you there. Another staff member or a head volunteer can handle those.
Eliminate any unnecessary meetings from your schedule. You may find that some weekly meetings are better off as monthly meetings.
At the same time, set a time limit for meetings. It’s not unusual for church meetings to turn into social sessions. Your time is limited, so state that you’ll only be able to attend for 15 minutes versus the usual hour that it takes for everyone to socialize.
Spending less time in meetings gives you more time to focus on more important tasks. While some meetings are necessary, they usually don’t have to take nearly as long as they do.
Use Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools save endless time on back and forth emails. Your entire church staff and volunteers can use collaboration tools to handle projects, save data to avoid meetings, share important information and stay up to date on everything going on in the church.
The best part is people can schedule meetings online without having to meet at the church. This not only saves pastors time, but everyone else too. A few great tools to consider include:
Organize The Office
This one might sound overly simple, but a disorganized office is a major distraction. Not only do you waste time searching for things, but the environment itself hampers your productivity.
Have set boxes for different types of forms and requests. This makes it easier to focus on one set task at a time, such as responding to prayer requests.
Take a day to simply organize your office. Ask other church staff members to handle your daily tasks for day so you can set yourself up for success. You may also want to clean out emails and even set up filters to organize your inbox to make it easier to tackle emails when they come in.
Ask For Help When Necessary
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help when necessary. If you feel like you can’t possibly get everything done, ask someone to help out. Gaining more time for pastors isn’t a new problem. Simply reaching out lets others know that you want to do more, but simply can’t.
This makes it easier to delegate certain jobs. Others may have ideas on things you can automate or how to do certain tasks more efficiently. When you have the time, learn from other church leaders via podcasts, blogs and social media.
They’ve all been where you have. Don’t reinvent the wheel or deal with burn out. Instead, let others help you and show you that you’re not alone.
Having a church website helps you save time while still connecting with your members more than ever. Contact us today to find out how we can help.