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Getting Organised

If there's one thing that will hinder your ministry and seriously reduce its effectiveness and fruitfulness, it's being disorganised. I wish I could say otherwise, but in my observation, disorganisation among pastors and leaders is a very common problem.

Here's a list of questions to help you decide if you're disorganised:

If you answered yes to some of these questions, you may be suffering from disorganisation. So let me give you some reasons why you need to get organised:

Hopefully, this amazing list will be enough to motivate you to do something about getting organised. but if that's not enough, let me give it to you straight. God says that He wants us to "redeem the time". (Eph 5:16; Col 4:5) He wants our time to count, even if we don't! And that means being organised.

So, if you're willing to take the plunge and get yourself on track so that your time really counts, then the first thing you need to understand is that being organised is all about systems. A system is simply an organised procedure, and its purpose is to keep you on track.

The reason why so many people fail to achieve their real potential is that they don't have any system in place to ensure that they do. I want to give you a couple of simple systems that will help you immensely in getting organised.

1. Buy A Diary

If you already have a diary, that's great. But the next step is to use it effectively. It seems to me that some people only get a diary so they can use it for taking notes! That doesn't help you much. That's what notepads are for. But there are a couple of ways of using a diary effectively.

First, put your appointments in there. This may sound basic, but a surprising number of people make appointments and then forget to put them in their diary. When is the best time to put an appointment in your diary? Immediately! If you leave it till later, you will likely forget.

And by the way, never keep two diaries. That's a great recipe for disaster. Too many leaders forget appointments because they've got a work diary and a home diary. It may sound like a great idea, but in reality, it's too easy to have an entry in one diary that's not in the other. This leads to double booking or broken appointments.

Next, consult your diary at the beginning of every work week. This means that early Monday morning (or Tuesday, if Monday is your day off), you should check through your diary for the whole week. What does that do? It gives you a mental picture of what your week is going to be like.

This way, there should be no surprises during the week. You should not get to Thursday morning and suddenly discover that you have an important meeting you need to attend. If you are the speaker at that important Thursday meeting, your diary will have reminded you of your responsibility already at the beginning of the week. That would have given you time to prepare, instead of doing a shoddy, last-minute job.

Each morning, check your diary for that day. This refreshes your memory for that day's appointments. Now you can plan ahead and make sure that anything that needs to be prepared actually gets prepared.

This system in bullet point form:

2. Diarise Daily Tasks

This is another system for which diaries are commonly put to use. Enter into your diary any jobs that need to be completed on the particular day where they need to get done. No matter how seemingly unimportant or small, write it in.

The next step is to prioritise those tasks. This is not very difficult to do. You simply decide which are the most important things that need to get done on any given day. Which of the items on the list do you have to get done that day? Then put a number next to each one to indicate its priority.

For instance, if you really are speaking on Thursday, you might put speaking prep on Tuesday's list. However, since you're not actually speaking the very next day, it may not be very high on the list unless the other jobs are fairly unimportant.

Cross things off your list as you do them. This might make your diary look very ugly with all those pen lines through everything, but it can give you a great deal of satisfaction as you see your list systematically getting whittled down.

At the end of the day, transfer any uncompleted tasks to the next day. This makes sure that things actually get done and that you don't just forget about them. You'll eventually get sick of writing out the same thing since that task is just going to keep reappearing on your list till you finally get it done.

If you didn't manage to get your Thursday meeting's speaking prep done on Tuesday, then it gets transferred to Wednesday's list. Of course, now it will have shot to the top of the priorities list. After all, you don't have unlimited time in which to prepare.

This system in bullet point form:

3. Setting Up A Task List On Your Computer

This is the system I prefer. And the reason I like it is that it works. At least, for me.

First, you prepare what I call a Weekly Task List. It's easy to draw this up in Microsoft Word, but to save you the trouble, you can download a template by clicking here. Just in case you don't have the latest version of Word, I've made it available as a Microsoft Office Word 97 - 2003 document.

Into this list, you put everything that you might possibly need to do in any given week. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, put it in the list. If it isn't in the list, it probably won't get done. Your Weekly Task List might look something like this:

Weekly Task List

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

Visitors' Service flyer

Auditor

Church sign & sandwich board

Ring X re leadership training

Sermon prep

Contact unsaved person

Coffee with X

Survey

Events Coordinator - men's events

Strengths Assessments

Sunday School planning

How can we reach people like us?

Hospitality list - X, X

Ring X re leadership training

Leadership Team prep

Leadership Team minutes

Leadership Team Celebration points

Newcomers Afternoon Tea / Newcomers Roll - X, X, X, X

Visitors' letters

Print copy of visitors' brochure (different paper for title page)

Project Control Calendar

Ring school

Audit return - form in "Current" file

E-Newsletter: Hall unavailable 6-12

Magazine article

Update visitors brochure - p11

Print run sheet (missions Sunday - last week, offering vs, Vision - what our church is about), my run sheet, praise report

New song - slide, lyrics & music

Worship: list (X / X / X / X), songs in folder, slides

Pay bills

Print hamper letter

Ring X, X

Update name & address list

Bible readings - jan / feb X 20

Ministry roster

Car service

Mission statement bulletin

Risk management policy


Although this Weekly Task List isn't exactly the same as mine, I've based it on mine. So let me explain a few things. First of all, notice anything about the list? Hopefully, you observed that it only goes from Monday to Thursday.

There's a reason for that. Sunday is a workday for me. So I take Fridays off. And to make sure that I actually take it off, I don't even include it in my Weekly Task List. Most pastors that I know take Mondays off. But Monday is actually not a great day to take off as many pastors fall into a slump after they've expended so much emotional and spiritual energy leading and ministering the day before. That means they don't get the full replenishing value of their day off. The best thing to do is to work Mondays, do stuff that doesn't require a lot of effort, and take a different day off.

So what about all the Xs? Each X stands for the name of a person. Obviously, I don't know the names of the relevant people in your church, so you'll have to settle for an X. And if you download the Word document, you can insert the names yourself.

Now before I explain any more, let me give you the next step in this process. Copy your Weekly Task List into a separate Word document called To Do List. So, now you've got two separate lists - the Weekly Task List and the To Do List - in two separate Word documents called by the same name as the list they contain.

Of course, if you're just downloading the template from this site, all you need to do is download the template twice, and call one of them the Weekly Task List, and the other one the To Do List. Your To Do List should look like this at the beginning of your work week:

TO DO LIST

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Visitors' Service flyer

Auditor

Church sign & sandwich board

Ring X re leadership training

Sermon prep

Contact unsaved person

Coffee with X

Survey

Events Coordinator - men's events

Strengths Assessments

Sunday School planning

How can we reach people like us?

Hospitality list - X, X

Ring X re leadership training

Leadership Team prep

Leadership Team minutes

Leadership Team Celebration points

Newcomers Afternoon Tea / Newcomers Roll - X, X, X, X

Visitors' letters

Print copy of visitors' brochure (different paper for title page)

Project Control Calendar

Ring school

Audit return - form in "Current" file

E-Newsletter: Hall unavailable 6-12

Magazine article

Update visitors brochure - p11

Print run sheet (missions Sunday - last week, offering vs, Vision - what our church is about), my run sheet, praise report

New song - slide, lyrics & music

Worship: list (X / X / X / X), songs in folder, slides

Pay bills

Print hamper letter

Ring X, X

Update name & address list

Bible readings - jan / feb X 20

Ministry roster

Car service

Mission statement bulletin

Risk management policy


Notice anything about the To Do List? No, not the day off! You've already noticed that! What you should have noticed was that it's exactly the same as the Weekly Task List. That's important, because at the beginning of every work week - hopefully Monday - you'll open both of your documents. You should then copy the contents of the Weekly Task List into the To Do List.

Now let me explain some of the details of the Weekly Task List. First of all, let's say that the beginning of your work week is Monday, the same as mine. You've just copied your Weekly Task List into your To Do List.

Close to the top of the list, there's an item called "Auditor". That's because in our church we have to have an annual audit. Notice that I said "annual"? That means that, unless it's that time of year where the audit needs to take place or something has to be prepared for the audit, I can immediately delete that.

There are other things on the list like that. They are there because they need to get done, but they don't necessarily need to get done every week. Other examples of tasks that I can often cross off the list immediately are Visitors' Service flyer (monthly), Leadership Team minutes (monthly), Bible Readings (the same ones you can download free off this website by clicking our Daily Bible Reading Planner), and others.

"New song" is there because we try to teach new songs regularly. And it's so easy to forget to do one of the necessary tasks associated with teaching a new song. The last thing I want to do is turn up at church, ready to teach a great new song, and find that we forgot to do the slide for the data projector.

The run sheet is our order of service. Several key people need to have one of these. Also, you'll see X popping up in various places. In my list, that's the name of a person, but you don't really need to know who they are, do you?

Also, there's a task called "Contact unsaved person". If you're a busy pastor, you can probably understand why I've put that there. If we want our people to reach out, then we have to lead the way. Sadly, church leaders often become isolated, and the only contact they have with non-Christians is if they happen to pop into a Sunday service. Keep this one on your list. It will help you keep the main thing the main thing.

One more thing: You probably noticed sermon prep on Monday. I don't really do my sermon prep then. As explained above, I just try to do things that don't require a lot of thought. However, I do want to start thinking about my message as soon as possible during the week. I like my messages to percolate. That way, by the time I get to Wednesday or Thursday, I don't have to come to my message cold. I've already got ideas.

Most of the other entries should be self-explanatory. Anyway, the download has all of these items left in just in case you can use them. Just delete what you don't want. And if you can't use any of it, delete all of it and start your own list afresh.

Next, delete from the To Do List any items that don't need to be done that particular week. If you have every potential task listed in the Weekly Task List, then at the beginning of your work week, you'll have a whole bunch of things you can immediately delete. That ought to make you feel good just thinking about things that don't need to be done.

Now work your way steadily through your list, and as you complete your tasks, delete them.

It's important that, as you progress through your work week, if you think of anything that needs to be done, you should add it to one of your lists. If you don't think you'll get to it in the current week, add it to the Weekly Task List. Otherwise, add it to the To Do List.

The reason for this should be obvious. When you begin the next work week, you'll copy everything from your Weekly Task List into your To Do List. That will immediately wipe anything that was still in your To Do List. If you do that, and you haven't added it to your Weekly Task List, it's yet another task that probably will never get done.

This system in bullet point form:

General Time Management Principles

This may at first seem a little overwhelming, but if you get into good habits, it will take a lot of pressure from your life. Being an organised person pays big dividends.

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Spiritual warfare is an area of Christian life that is easily relegated to one of two extremes. It is either seen as irrelevant in our enlightened times and therefore ignored. Or it is viewed as an activity to be engaged in on special occasions when the church participates in a spiritual warfare meeting. That's just what the devil would like us to think. This book is based on sound Biblical teaching that every Christian, like it or not, is involved in warfare daily. If you're serious about overcoming the devil, read this book. Topics covered include: Satan's greatest weapon, overcoming temptation, God's Word and other spiritual weapons, how to use the whole armor of God, the real meaning of "in Jesus' name", the power of the blood of Jesus, and more.

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