Burnout is Rampant Among Church Leaders During the Holidays

Date Posted: 11/29/2012

When asked about his favorite time-saving tips, Dr. Elijah Stansell, TAC Connectional Resources Director and Treasurer shares these suggestions on how to maximize productivity while maintaining balance. "I chose to start my day early because my best performance time is in the morning when I am uninterrupted by people, digital communications, space sharing and the like. Therefore, my check list usually flows as previously planned." He adds, "I intentionally multi-task every chance I can, while trying not to neglect genuine personal face time. Some tasks can start with a text or other non-time-consuming method. Getting to the core concern around an inquiry before personally engaging in the solution can save an enormous amount of cumulative hours." Dr. Stansell gives himself permission to prioritize daily assignments and meeting scheduling, knowing that on any given day there will be tasks that must go unfinished or reassigned to the next day. "Only you can best discipline and monitor you."

Other Time Management Insights:

The holidays bring Christian life into the spotlight across the globe, this Advent season offers churches and Methodist leaders the opportunity to bring hope into a hectic world. As the pace ramps up, take a minute to assess your schedule and how you might more effectively squeeze a few extra minutes or hours during the holiday season – and beyond.

The first step in improving time management skills is to see the need to proactively “manage” time. By fine tuning your time management tendencies, maybe you can reduce pressure, avoid feeling guilty or taking work and worry home, and quit attempting too much.

Time Management Evaluation Quiz:

In general (Yes/No):

1.   Does it take me 5 minutes or less to find an important document?

2.   Do I prioritize my activities daily?

3.   Do I effectively control interruptions?

4.   Am I starting projects on time rather than procrastinating?

5.   Do I have and take enough personal time for spiritual reflection?

6.   Do I have and take enough personal time for recreation and downtime?

7.   Have I avoided speeding tickets or paying late charges for anything in the last 6 months?

8.   Do I complete all the TO DO items on my daily lists?

9.   Am I able to stay current with my reading?

10.  Is my workspace organized?

The Scripture commands us to manage our time wisely in Ephesians 5:15: See that you walk circumspectly (aware of surroundings/no tunnel vision), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. And Proverbs 18:9 warns us, “He also that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster.”

Brain teaser alert: choose effectiveness over efficiency. Efficiency is doing the job right vs Effectiveness is doing the right job. Doing the job right is only powerful when you are doing the right job. Never confuse motion with action. What is on your personal productivity pyramid? It is better to schedule what you want to happen than to go with the flow and react to them in crisis mode.

Reassess Your Values

1.   What are you willing to walk the plank for?

2.   What activities have the most importance to you? What do you really enjoy doing and sharing that will motivate you to carve time out for those things?

3.   What are you doing when you feel a complete sense of God’s approval and peace?

Turn your “To Do” List Into a Plan of Action

·         Invest 15 minutes in planning (bringing future events into the present so that greater control can be applied) and you will get it back later. If you “think” it, “ink” it – don’t depend on memory.

·         Are the items urgent or routine maintenance (daily floaters you’d like to do)? Place them in priority order and place in discretionary time slots. Better yet, indicate the status (completed, forwarded, delegated, in progress) so nothing slips through the cracks.

    Handle “Plan Busters”

·         For meetings, always have and circulate an agenda, a moderator, time limits as well as a beginning and end time with follow up action items assigned with due dates.

·         To help manage interruptions, use time blocks. Try scheduling time with yourself first – in isolation. Group your calls into an hour time slot, email management into another hour slot. Break big jobs into small tasks. Use one planner.

·         To avoid time shortages, delegate, manage your own expectations, and attack the higher priority tasks ahead of the lower impact. Delays often creep in when the task is unpleasant or too big or there is a lack of information or skill. “Perfect” is the enemy of “good.”

·         Avoid procrastination by focusing on the objective every day, consider the reward and set self-imposed deadlines. Do now what can be done tomorrow.

A successful life is a collection of successful years, which is a series of successful months, namely – successful days. The Apostle Paul says: Be not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.