Influence

 the shape of leadership

Five Ways to Strengthen Your Time Management Skills

Make space in your week for what matters most

David Reneau on February 13, 2018

Working in a smaller church as a kids’ pastor, I wear a lot of hats. These responsibilities can include building maintenance, pastoral care, event production — the list goes on and on. With all these other responsibilities, focusing on children’s ministry can be difficult. I’ve heard many first-year children’s pastors ask, “When do I actually get to work with kids?”

The truth is, within a 40-hour work week, you may work with kids anywhere from two to six hours per week, depending on how many services your church runs. That’s about 10 percent of your time spent doing what you love.

Over the years, I’ve discovered some time management strategies that have helped me maintain ministry excellence, while also getting everything else done.

1. Establish Priorities

When I ask some people their priorities, they say, “Everything!”

Unfortunately, we’re not from planet Krypton, and we can’t do everything. One time, I triple booked myself for the same Wednesday night. It was a mess, and a lot of apologies had to be made.

Take some time in prayer, and write out five to 10 priorities. Then put them in order of importance. You must decide now what’s most important, so when the distraction comes, you’ve already made the decision.

2. Map out Your Week

On Sunday night or Monday morning, I sit down and make a to-do list for the week. I look at my calendar and consider what’s coming, what I need to work on, what I didn’t get done last week, and what I want to do this week. It takes only a few minutes once you have a system.

I keep my to-do list in Microsoft OneNote, so I copy and paste from the previous week. This way, I’m not rewriting the same things every week, or frantically looking for a list that got buried under last week’s receipts.

3. Find Your Rhythm

In his autobiography, Colin Powell says he looks ahead every day to identify the three interactions that can make the biggest impact.

The most successful people make time for what matters and can bring the most impact.

I can’t say I do this every day, but I do organize my week into rhythms. Monday is meeting day, Tuesday is writing day, Wednesday is project day, and Thursday is prep for Sunday. I have found that knowing the theme of the day makes planning at the beginning of the day easier.

When someone on Monday asks me to help them with a project, I tell them I can help on Wednesday. I’ve already made the decision before they asked, and it lets me focus on what I need to do that day.

4. Set Appointments With Yourself

There are always people needing help, emails to respond to, phone calls to make, and other things begging for your attention. Set aside specific times when you don’t want to be disturbed. Choose times when you tend to be most productive.

If someone asks for (fill in the blank), you can explain that you have an appointment, and offer to help later. Most people won’t ask what your appointment is, and you get to work in peace and accomplish something.

5. Evaluate Your Week

It’s great to set priorities and plan your week, but if you never go back and look at how you did, you’ll never know how to improve.

As I said earlier, I use OneNote to track my to-do list. Another free option is Evernote, which I highly recommend. At the end of the week, you can go back and see what you accomplished and what you didn’t accomplish, and adjust for next week.

I also use an app on my computer called RescueTime. It keeps track of everything I do on my computer and categorizes the items on a scale from “unproductive” to “very productive.” On Sunday night, I get an email telling me what I spent the most time on and how productive I was throughout the week.

Whatever you do, use what works best for you. No matter who you are, you only have 168 hours in a week. Some people run international companies. Others wonder where their week went. The most successful people make time for what matters and can bring the most impact. We should do the same.

I think Jesus said it best in Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Be faithful with the small things, and watch God bless you with far more.

This was originally posted on, and is adapted from, the Healthy Church Kids blog.

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