As the Christmas season quickly approaches its end, it’s time now to look ahead to the new year. With your to-do list filling up fast, you will want to be sure you have some good systems in place to maximize your productivity next year.
One of the top issues for many leaders is prioritizing tasks. The most productive people have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and when. They are able to put aside distractions—and they don’t confuse being busy with being productive.
Before you jump right into task-completion in 2024, pause to review these 7 productivity tips to help start the year out right:
1) Don’t use your email to dictate what gets done.
Do your phone dings, pings, and chimes draw your attention away from the task at hand? It’s easy to want to immediately investigate your email or text notification, but the reality is that the break in concentration is making us less productive overall.
Forbes describes emails as a “constant distraction that prevents us from engaging in proper, meaningful thinking.” Rather than constantly checking our email throughout the day or responding to notifications, it’s far better to have set times in our calendar that we consider “email windows” to check and respond to those messages so our focus can remain on what is actually most important each day.
2) Empower, don’t merely delegate.
There is so much that goes into leading your church. As a pastor, you often have a hand in almost everything that occurs within your building. It can be a lot of responsibility for one person to manage.
Many leaders are quick to delegate, but rarely will they empower their staff and volunteers to own a project start-to-finish. It may take a little more time in the beginning to support your volunteers and staff to ensure they are equipped to take on that responsibility. However, you’ll save a lot of time in the long run.
3) Get your inbox to zero.
Keeping a tidy inbox is one key to productivity. When too much goes unread, it can cause us to feel overwhelmed, misplace important details, or forget to respond to something that did require our attention.
Important information can be transferred over to your church management system and/or task management system so everything is in one place and not sitting in a collection of emails.
If something needs to remain unread for a portion of time in your inbox, make sure you archive those emails when the task is complete so it’s not continuing to occupy brain space when it doesn’t need to.
Most important is that your inbox isn’t the sole driver of what you get done in a day. Keeping your inbox at or near zero is a great way to make sure those are not in control of what’s top-of-mind at all times.
4) Utilize AI for first drafts.
AI can be a powerful tool when it is used the right way, and for tasks that are more administrative in the life of a church. If you are experiencing writer’s block on an email about an upcoming event, let AI create a first draft that you can edit, correct, and add to. The same is true of repeatable tasks like birthday cards, social media captions, or email responses.
We actually wrote an entire article about this topic. Check out “Can You Use AI Effectively and Ethically in Your Ministry?” for more!
5) Balance Strategic and Operational Goals
As a church leader, you need to find a balance between working on strategy and managing the day-to-day operations. Both are important, but each requires a completely different focus and discipline.
Let’s be honest: It’s a lot easier to just focus on the “fires” we have to put out in the day-to-day, but true traction is found when we look beyond the immediate and take time for strategy.
Succeeding in strategic roles requires you to say “no” to some tasks, even if they are easy for you to accomplish. You must become comfortable with being directly connected to every operational element of your organization—at least some of the time.
How can you block out time on your calendar in 2024 for more strategic, big-picture thinking?
6) Take time to rest.
LifeWay Research found that work-life balance is a huge challenge for at least half of pastors. There are times when working more than the average or outside of normal hours is unavoidable. But just as much as you need to work faithfully, you also need to rest faithfully.
Make sure you are following the biblical commandment to observe a Sabbath and have healthy rhythms of work and rest. This helps you be more productive, not less!
7) Break your larger tasks into smaller tasks.
If you have larger tasks that will stretch over several weeks or even months, one of the keys to staying on task is to break up that big endeavor into smaller increments, assigning dates to complete each of those milestones.
This helps break down your large task into more obtainable increments that will keep you on target, avoiding that feeling of overwhelm from something that feels too big to take on.
Do you need a church management system that can help you communicate with your congregation, organize volunteers, and lead efficiently? You can try One Church Software FREE for 14 days to see all the ways it can help you care for your members, empower your volunteers, and serve your community.