In essence, it’s quite simple. God created one major thing every day, and he makes a case that we work better as well when we can focus on one major event per day. This is not quite possible for all jobs out there, but I’ve been practicing and honing this for a few years now, and wanted to share how I’ve been doing and what my schedule is like.
Monday: Follow up and visitation
On Monday, I come into the church office and deal with all the responses from the weekend and also work on connecting with those I haven’t seen/heard from in awhile. Carrollwood Church is a relatively small church, but we typically have about 10-15 responses every weekend. There’s a certain “assimilation process” that we follow, and I’ll spend time working through the process. You can read more about it here. This typically takes me a few hours between praying over them and following up with the responses.
Every week there’s a few people that help me to keep track of who they’ve seen and haven’t seen on a particular weekend. So I spend time calling people and catching up. I also may swing by and see one or two people face to face in the afternoon.
That’s how my mondays usually go.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Sermon Preparation
On these days, I focus as much as possible on preparing for my sermon for the weekend. My goal is to be completely finished with my sermon by Wednesday evening. So on tuesdays I focus on research. And my goal by the end of that day is to have a title, outline, and main idea of what the sermon will be about. I plan out my preaching series’ about eight months ahead of time, so I’ll usually have a rough title or idea that I want to focus on, but on Tuesdays, I finalize the title. On Wednesday, then, I spend the day putting some “meat on the bones.” Once I have the outline and other info, this process usually flows quite quickly and easily. The Tuesday work is actually much more difficult.
Thursdays is “development” day. What happens in most people’s schedules is that they focus so much on the urgent, that the important gets cast aside. They’re always putting out fires or working on things that come up, so they never have time to look into the future. I noticed this was happening with me as well, so I took steps to address it. On Thursdays, I spend time working on “future projects.” I may work on a seminar that I’m planning for. I’ll spend some time doing extensive reading and research related to a project. I’ll spend time thinking about our future and vision.
Fridays: Administration/ Tying up loose ends
Friday is an “open bucket” day for me. Usually there are lots of other kinds of calls or administrative issues that have to be dealt with. I always leave these for Fridays. I’ll also spend a little bit of time in the morning reviewing my sermon.
Saturday: Church day
As a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Saturday is my church day. So I preach, often in the afternoons there are various seminars or classes. All in all, it’s usually a pretty big day
Sunday: Day off
This is the day in which I relax and completely disconnect. It’s my day off and I try to go out and spend time with family.
So let me take a step back, now, and tie it all together.
Usually on Sunday evening, I’ll take some time to plan out my week. I review appointments that I have coming up. And I try to spend time thinking about every single thing that I need to do. That includes people to call/visit, projects to work on, and emails that need to be sent, for example. As things come to my mind that I need to work on, I just funnel the items to their appropriate day. So some projects or calls automatically will get funneled to Mondays or Fridays, depending on the type of project. If things have been a little crazy, my first thing on Monday morning is to write out that list and schedule things for the appropriate days.
By the way, planning out your day the day before is one of the best time management tips I’ve ever implemented. Bob Franquiz wrote about this principle in his blog one day. That way you can hit the ground running as soon as you get to your desk and don’t have to waste time and wonder what you’ll be working on.
I used to try to do a little sermon prep, for example, every day. But I’ve found that by just focusing on one major thing per day I’ve been less stressed and have been able to accomplish more.
By the way, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote an excellent piece called “How Batch Processing Made Me 10 Times More Productive,” in which he elucidates this same principle, but coming from a different industry. I highly recommend it.
What about you? What has helped you to maximize your schedule?