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Time Organizer Techniques

When you think about effective time management...time organizer techniques help you to be very concrete defining different blocks of time.

What do we mean when we talk about effective time management?

We can only mean the use of organization techniques with tasks that have to be done in a certain time period.

A recipe is a good example of time organized tasks leading to a a chosen and preditable result...a luscious chocolate cake! You set a goal...organize the ingredients you need (which may be scattered about)...and follow a sequence.

Voila!! Done!

So what are the techniques for time organization.

  1. You must know what it is that you want to accomplish...a chocolate cake or making a million dollars this year...or increasing the size of your congregation. This gives meaning and direction to your actions. This becomes a goal.

  2. You assemble the techniques...the things you need to carry out your goal. For example...you will send an email...make a phone call...write a check...mail a bill...etc.

  3. You act.
Easier said than done you say.

Actually it's as easy to do as to describe.

Procrastinators keep everything they need to do in their heads. They mean well but they have no time organizer techniques and never get around to

  • paying those bills on time...

  • balancing the checkbook...

  • checking out a new job...

  • calling that old friend who they heard was ill...

  • cleaning out those gutters...

  • taking down the screens...etc.

There is a very important reason for this... When you keep all your goals (things you need to do or want to do)inside your head...in spite of your good intentions... Your feeling of the moment will change the order of importance of everything.

And your feelings can change by the moment or the hour.

Effective time management becomes impossible when you discover you feel hungry...so that call to the old friend must wait until after lunch...

After lunch you discover that you feel sleepy...so the call does not get made.

Then other people start putting demands on your time by calling you...by stopping by to tell you to go to some interesting website...then the internet takes up the rest of the day and you make a firm decision... "I'll make that call to my friend Pete tomorrow."

When you make the call the next day Pete's wife tells you Pete had a stroke yesterday (while you were on the internet after lunch)and the funeral will be on Friday.

Keeping everything in your head is the main time organizer technique of highly disorganized people who work hard and accomplish relatively little because...your feelings of the moment constantly rearrange priorities so that nothing is important enough to do...except what you feel like doing right now.

And that may be nothing!

Another major characteristic of highly successfull people is they write down their long term goals and post them where they can see them everyday.

This helps to ensure that their short term daily goals and actions are relevant to the "big picture"...the place where they want to wind up in the long term.

The first effective time organization technique then is to get everything you want to do or must do out of your head!! But not into the bin of forgotten memories.

Where to I put these things? you ask.

You put them on a list
...which we'll talk about in a moment...so that you separate them from your feelings...just like the chef separates the yolks from the whites of eggs so that they can be recombined in a different way to achieve a specific kind of cake.

You may have heard that highly sucessful people make lists...to keep their actions on track toward their goals and manage their time effectively.

Highly successful people do not get burned out. They find they are continually energized...by their focused actions toward important goals.

What is it specifically about a list that gives it such importance in getting things done?

The first thing...as noted above...is that it gets things separated from your feelings of the moment.

The second thing making a list does is that...by writing things down you are imitating all of the other important things you do in your life...which you accomplish by writing them down.

For example, your write out the terms of any contract...you sign your marriage license...your driver's licence...your mortgage check...your letters...both personal and business...your write out the terms and then sign your Will.

For some of the most important things we do in life...we put pen to paper.

That is one reason why lists are so important...because we write down all of the important things in our lives.

So your brain...not your feelings...gets the message about importance and responds...Uh oh she's writing this down it must be important. And...of course...it is and it will get done.

The third reason why making a list is an important time management technique is that a list organizes things vertically.

Why is that important? you ask.

Because putting things vertically makes them into a hierarchy. By definition a hierarchy arranges things from the most important at the top to the least important at the bottom.

Putting things in a hierarchy is a procrastination buster.

But...if things remain only in your head the hierarchy keeps changing according to your feelings until nothing happens.

When you put things in a hierarchy...your list must engage your values.

You discover immediately what is important and what is less so.

Here's how to do it.

For most people who have not trained themselves to manage time with effective time management strategies...like what I'm about to show you...have their tasks organized in their heads in a way that is typical for them.

Some may have them organized horizontally so that everything is equally important.

You can hear the horizontal organization in the way they talk... "I have so much to do...I have to get a birthday card for Janet...I have to call my mother...I should call my sister-in-law who called me last week...etc."

It's like a long ticker tape of things to do that are all equal in their importance.

Then there is the person who thinks about things in a circular way.

You can hear it when they talk...they go through a variety of things to do and wind up back where they started...

 "I definitely have to get my oil changed...but I'm taking the car in for service in two weeks...then I have to look at the newsletter for our parish...then I have to think about whether to take the kids to Disney next summer...but the newsletter is sitting right here so I can't think about Disney now...but I don't think I should wait two weeks for that oil change that stuff looked pretty dirty last time they checked it."

Then there is the person who keeps their tasks in their head...in random bits... just the way data are stored on a hard drive...

"I don't know whether to see my son in Phoenix for Thanksgiving or go to my vegetarian daughter in California...at least my son would have a turkey...but my mother isn't well so I may have to stay here for the holidays...if I go to California the main course will be pineapple stuffed with pignolis or some such thing...the thought of a good sausage stuffing in a beautifully roasted turkey sounds great...but I'll start a family feud if I go to Phoenix and not to California...thank God mom isn't feeling up to par and she likes turkey...I'll probably just stay here." 

Unless things are put outside of your head there is no way to get them into a hierarchy...determined by your real values...so that you make a decision and do them. >

Want to test this out? 

Use post it notes...index cards...envelopes...anything you can move about and sort. 

Think about ten things you need to get done by the weekend.

Can't think of ten things? Then make it five or three. But don't make it less than three.

If you only have two things to put into a hierarchy you can get caught on the horns of a dilemma...I'll do this...no I'll do that...back and forth.

It's a rule...solving any task you always want no less than three options.

 But back to our hierarchy.

Next write each task down on a card or whatever you are using. Put the cards next to each other horizontally and decide which task is most important without moving the card...decide which is next in importance...etc.

You will probably notice that you keep wanting to change your mind.

Do the same thing by arranging the cards in a circle and then scatter them randomly. Just don't move them while you are deciding which is most to least important. Just the array of cards...horizontal...circular...or random will provide enough confusion while you are deciding on importance.

Now...move the cards...in any order...to a vertical column.

Look at the one on top...is it the most important thing to do now? If not move it somewhere else in the lineup. And look again at the top card. How about it? Is this the most important thing to do now? If not keep moving the cards until you say "bingo, this must be done this morning".

And tell yourself...out loud...WHY!!

Then keep arranging the cards until all are in the proper order of importance. Then put the cards in a pile with the most important task on top and the least important on the bottom. Then take action. 

When the task is done...and this is important...strike a line across the card and move it to the bottom of the pile

As important as it is to put something on a list...it is just as important to strike it off when you have done the task. 


Because when you see all those tasks crossed out you will experience

  • a sense of accomplishment...
  • a sense of how easy it was...
  • a sense of meaning in your life this morning...
  • and a sense of eagerness to get your next list up and going.

When you get a sense of how important a hierarchy is for you to take effective action in managing time you can try a simpler method... 

Keep a steno notepad handy all day and all evening. Keep it open to your current list page. 

It is amazing how many things you want to get done or have to get done will pop into your head while you are cooking or watching television. 

By the time you go to bed you may have 25 or 30 things on your list. 

No problem. 

Now that they are out of your head and not smothered by your feelings...and your previous success with lists has reinforced your eagerness to accomplish things...you will have cleared you list by the end of the next day. 

Remember to cross things out as you clear the list. This simple action has powerful benefits...the most important is that it keeps your brain from being cluttered with tasks that are already done

After one week you will be amazed at how effective your time management has become and how much time you have to do really interesting things. And even those pleasurable things you should probably write down on a list...like take a bubble bath...so that you do not procrastinate in doing the pleasurable things of life now that the administrative details are under control. 

You will not suffer burnout...

  • you will have time to think of new programs for your church...

  • write more meaningful sermons...

  • spend more time with your friends and family...

  • shake more hands to get donations for the new church roof.

Getting the adminstrative details out of the way effectively...with very simple time management strategies...allows you more time for the things that increase the quality of your life.

Make lists...cross out...then enjoy!

Protect God's work
Protect yourself...your ministry...

and those to whom

God sent you to minister

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