Last week I talked about basic time management in your youth work or youth ministry and how it can help improve your relationships. Today, we have a few practical ways you can improve your efficiency in your own tasks and workload through personal time management techniques.
1) Make a to-do list
It doesn’t matter if you make it on paper, MS Word, your Outlook task list, Evernote or on your hand. Make a list. When people go to job interviews and they’re asked how they manage their time, they often say ‘I make a list and then I put it in order of priority…. etc.’ Except that most people don’t actually do that.
They know the right answers for time management but they often don’t do the steps involved to make the most of their time.
2) Review and Prioritize
Decide what’s urgent, important, both or neither. Do you have a deadline looming? Or did someone come to you in their own inefficiency and expect you to drop everything to assist them?
Often we confuse what’s urgent for what’s important. And sometimes, other feelings come into play – we want our colleagues to like us, our boss to be proud of us or we just don’t want to do what’s boring but important, so we do what seems urgent first.
Make cuts and be honest about your workload, with yourself and others. There’s no gold star for being exhausted and overworked – you just begin to let your performance slip in other areas. And in youth work, it’s often shortness with our youth and volunteers and poorly planned programming.
3) Schedule when to complete the items on your to-do list
Some people like to work through their list and cross items off. If that’s a system that works for you and you do it – fantastic! Keep it up!
I like to use my Outlook Calendar (don’t have Outlook? Use Google Calendar) to schedule when I’m going to complete something. I estimate how much time it should take and put it in a slot in my day. I plan out my week on Friday afternoons since Monday morning is always full of fires to be put out. I tend to leave the first hour on Monday for work that’s not as important/urgent, so that when something urgent comes up on Monday (and it always does), I can move my less important work back and it doesn’t really affect my output.
When you use your calendar and something changes in your day (a meeting, more pressing deadline, etc.), you can just move the blocks of time around easily and re-prioritize and schedule your time. I mark the time that I’m doing tasks as ‘free’ on my calendar, so people scheduling meetings with me don’t think I have meetings everyday, all week long.
Find a system that works for you with workload time management. It’s about working smarter. If you have colored stickies or a notebook and these work for you, keep using them. But if you’re constantly missing deadlines, feeling overworked and wondering where the day went, you may want to consider a new time management solution.
Question: How do you manage your time as a youth worker? Let us know in the comments below.
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