Successful Scheduling Using Reality, Not Rules

Over the course of my working years, I’ve run the gamut of various jobs. In the world of 9-5 jobs, I’ve stocked shelves, worked in a machine shop, worked in a funeral home, team leader for the 2000 Census Bureau, and director in a large publishing/resource company. In ministry, I’ve served as a youth minister, single adult pastor, education minister, church planter, pastor of established churches, consultant, conference speaker, and currently as a director with the Baptist World Alliance. Each position gave me the opportunity for personal success and ministry fruitfulness. But, at every turn, it requires discipline.

Sometimes, I had it. Many times, I did not.

In this new season of work with the BWA, I’m covering a lot of territory in both my work responsibilities and in my travel geographically. To maintain my sanity, I’m moving into a more intentional schedule of life. It’s not perfect and I’ll adapt it along the way. Knowing that we’re all looking for a life hack that will increase our effectiveness, here’s my latest go at scheduling for success.

Daily Schedule:

  • Rise early for exercise, private devotions, and writing. The older I’m getting, the closer to 5:15am I awake. For exercise, I currently aim for either cycling (four-eight miles) or just grab my jump rope (can get in 500+ jumps in no time).
  • Get ready. Even though I office from home, I get ready because it sets me into work mode.
  • Make a list. Whatever I need to do, I decide to get it done. As others have said, eat the frog first.
  • Tackle the first round of emails for staff issues.
  • Late mornings are for phone calls and emails to church leaders.
  • Short lunch break.
  • Early afternoon is all about logistics for upcoming trips or events.
  • Late afternoon is the time to return emails, phone calls, and reading.

Project management: Asana is my go-to for project management. I use Evernote to keep up with random information when it comes up. It allows me to have it digitally and not transfer from handwritten to digital everyday.

Meetings: Given my current work, meetings happen with pastors and church leaders at various times. However, it’s usually coffee shop or lunch meetings. Meetings with people trump logistical work. My advantage is that I work from anywhere so my laptop can come with me along with Asana, Evernote, and all the rest of the World Wide Web.

Reading:

  • Daily reading includes websites on world news, what’s happening in the church, life among the Baptist family, and blogs by church thought leaders.
  • Weekly reading focuses on the major topics are ministry leadership, business leadership, financial advancement, and missiology.
  • Monthly reading is for fun. I have a novel going but I use the entertaining reading generally for flights (becoming more numerous) or off days.

When travel happens: I will generally take two domestic trips a month and three or four international trips a year. Obviously, this throws all of my schedule up in the air. But because I work remotely, I maintain a semblance of my schedule no matter where I am in the world. It is tough but doable.

Walk away: I need to physically walk away sometimes. It is for both a break and for clarity. Often, it is is just to get the blood pumping. But sometimes it is to clear the mental cobwebs.

… and now for one bonus idea that will help pull it all together …

The key is to be intentional instead of being legalistic.
No one but the leader of a large organization that has an untold number of minions can have any control over their schedule. Even then, it’s an illusion. As my friend Brian Daniel said to me once, “Anyone who has your email address is your boss.” It’s true in so many ways so be intentionally flexible with yourself and people. Be intentionally focused on what you want to accomplish. Be intentionally willful about the vision for your work. Intentionality is not the same as rigid legalism. Use your work to help the people involved. Never use people to get your work done. Then, you’ll find your way on a clear path of a successful personal schedule.

> Read more from Philip.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Scheduling: An Active Way to Pursue Obedience to Jesus

I have grown to love my personal calendar.

I know different people treat their time in different ways; I’ve found that I thrive most in a structured environment. So I’ve tried in the last few months to take a more proactive role in structuring my time, particularly at work. Rather than simply having a “to do” list of tasks, I have begun to transfer those tasks to blocks of time on my schedule. So I break the day into segments, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, and assign particular tasks for that given period of time.

For some tasks, it means multiple blocks of that time during the week. I might devote an hour on Monday, then another on Tuesday, then 30 more minutes on Friday. And at the end of each day, I evaluate the remaining days in the week and adjust the blocks of time according to what I was able to accomplish during that day… and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that it sounds pretty obsessive. Maybe even a little compulsive to go along with it.

For me, though, this is more than a helpful time management practice; it actually has a spiritual component to it.

From time to time, I feel overwhelmed when faced with a laundry list of things that have to be done. I start to worry about the time it will take to get it all done; I begin to feel anxiety about what’s before me. And when I do that, I have to realize that my worry and anxiety is not only unhealthy; it’s actually disobedient:

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).

So said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He continued to hold up birds and wildflowers as those God provides for, making the point that we, as His children are much more valuable then these things. Then Jesus reminds us that worry and anxiety over the stuff of life is the characteristic of idolaters:

“…the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:32-34).

It’s that last statement that gets me – tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. My problem is that I tend to bring the worries of tomorrow into today. But this is also the point where keeping a schedule can actually be of great aid in our obedience to the command of Jesus to be free of worry.

If we are proactive in time management, scheduling out time can help us leave the worries of tomorrow until tomorrow. So, for example, let’s say you have a massive project you have to get done at work, and you find yourself disobediently worrying about getting it all done. But you very much want to obey what Jesus said. Perhaps a practical step in the right direction would be to break up that project into smaller chunks and then schedule time into the next several weeks to accomplish each one.

You have task 1 to do on Monday. You don’t have to worry about task 2 because you know you’ve already allocated time to get that done on Tuesday. So you move forward, one step at a time, treating the day you have before you as a single day, and you’re able to put down the phone and lay your head on the pillow knowing that tomorrow you can do the exact same thing. The point of the exercise, though, is more than finding a way to get things done; it’s an active way to pursue obedience to Jesus.

And I’m finding more and more that these small, seemingly insignificant choices are the nuts and bolts of what it means to truly follow Him.

> Read more from Michael.


 

Would you like to learn more about scheduling and productivity in your organization? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.