Does Effective Time Management
Mean Being Available 24/7?

It's true that effective time management is one of the supporting pillars of success in life...whether you're a minister or some other kind of CEO. If you click on the topics below you will find out interesting things about who and what causes poor time management and burnout...and what to do about it.
  1. You will discover that being a nice guy can be too much of a good thing.
  2. You will learn why you must think vertically and not horizontally. And...
  3. You will learn how a crowned minister, head of the Church of England, keeps her church and her empire moving along with a certain kind of command that you can use too...and have everyone love you for bossing them around!
What is effective time management?

We all have some sense that effective time management is about getting things done...but for time management to be effective...

You have to produce the results you want...on time!



Effective time management is...

An arrangement of tasks...

in a hierarchy of importance.


What's important here is the hierarchy. And that's vertical...top to bottom. There will be no effectiveness without a written hierarchy.  Otherwise there is no way to distinguish most important from least important.

And trying to keep things in hierarchical order in your mind is like trying to herd a bunch of cats.



Ministers, not circumstances,cause burnout!

Burnout in ministry is often the result of poor time management.

So...it follows that ministers, not circumstances, cause their own burnout, and only they can manage their time well to prevent burnout.

Here are some symptoms that suggest burnout is lurking not too far in the future...

  • Do you feel like you're struggling to keep your head above water...just to get the minimum done each day?
  • Are demands on your time coming from every direction...or just from a few very persistent people?
  • Do you find yourself avoiding situations and people?

Those are internal responses to stress from time getting away from you.

And internal stress is dealt with differently than external stress. How about these examples of external stress...

  • Do squabbles among lay ministers take up too much time. Like when the children's choir director and the adult's choir director can't agree on the Easter music?
  • Do different program directors want you to micromanage them because they ask your input on everything?
  • Do some lay minister's disagree with you publicly so that you have to spend time doing damage control?

Effective time management is definitely up to the minister.

Very few people in a parish are going to say "let's not bother father with that?

To the contrary...everyone who puts a demand on a minister's time feels that his or her issue is the most important.

The trouble is most ministers want to be perceived as nice guys.



How the 'nice guy' syndrome causes burnout

Ministers who want to be known as 'nice guys' allow themselves to feel that everybody's case is equally important. And this paralyzes them because everything is of equal importance...which is the opposite of having priorities arranged in a hierarchical order.

Now some ministers are happy to have demands put on them...they have no goals...or very few goals...of their own for the day. These are the ministers who love to feel needed.

But that isn't ministry. It's a recipe for management by crisis.

Being needed is not a ministry. Neither is trying to meet everyone's needs...as people pleasers try to do.

Ministry must always be religious in nature...religious actions with the specific purpose of bringing people...and the minister...closer to God. The rest is not ministry!  

And ministers who neglect what they ought to be doing for themselves and their ministry...motivated simply to gain someone's approval...are not doing ministry. They are promoting themselves.The minister who loves to be needed falls happily exhausted into bed at night after a day of being constantly needed.

Such ministers don't feel pressured as much as they feel central to the lives of the lay folks.

The minister who loves to be needed is probably happy enough and the people who drain the minister's time are probably happy too.



How em-URGENCIES cause burnout

An emergency can be something...anything...someone feels anxious about. But that's not a genuine emergency because...


An Emergency is...


an unexpected event...

that threatens life or property

That's it!

What most people think of as an emergency is simply their internal feeling of urgency...nothing more than the need and desire to have their way quickly.  An em-urgency is not the same as an em-ergency.

The message an em-urgency conveys is..."Help!! I'm on fire...drop everything and put me out!" An em-urgency is really a demand that seeks to usurp the minister's time.

So you can see how having good definitions can help. If you understand the difference between urgency and emergency...you are likely to respond appropriately to someone without getting off schedule for the rest of the day.

Unless life or property are threatened, a minister can respond something like this...

"I realize this feels very urgent to you and I'm in full sympathy with you. Sit tight. I've scheduled you in for the first appointment after lunch tomorrow. I'll see you then."

Em-urgencies have a curious characterstic...they tend to resolve themselves when they are given a little time to do so.



Think vertically not horizontally for effective time management

So what can the burdened avoidant minister actually do to start using effective time management? It's easy as 1-2-3... The first three steps toward effective time management are...

And you can generate it on the fly... by writing things down on a pad beside you as you watch television and things pop into your head...rank ordered for importance from top to bottom.

And this rank ordering is necessary to decide what must happen before other things.

When you think horizontally, everything is equally important and can lead to indecision...which is another time waster. You can only set priorities by thinking of things in a vertical order.

And when we construct a list on paper...we are forced to think vertically.

And that is why a written vertical list is one of the habits of highly successful people.



How the queen does effective time management

Skillful use of the embedded command is how the queen practices effective time management. And she's the head of the church of England...a crowned minister!

A diplomat reported that he learned his audience was over when the queen gave him three embedded commands in the most charming voice.

They are in bold type in the dialogue...


Diplomat: "blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda your majesty this your majesty that..."

Queen: (stands in mid-sentence and extends hand...smiling) "I'm enjoying our talk so much...I'm so sorry you have to leave now and that you can't tell me more. But, I'm sure you're anxious to get back to the embassy."

Queen: withdraws hand...

Diplomat: withdraws self.

Queen: has time for a cup of tea before the next on schedule meeting.

Diplomat: smiles to self, goes home and tells wife how gracious the queen was to him.

There are many ways to tell people their time is up...commands embedded in your farewell actually get the point across without giving any offense at all.

Master the embedded command and you'll have an extra half hour for lunch.


If you use these strategies for effective time management ...you will make time to accomplish everything in your hierarchy for the day...and you will find that 'emergencies' rarely occur.  (I've done you a favor by putting three embedded commands in bold type. I am sure you will be happy to obey them.)

We all manage time one way or another. But effective time management requires a few simple to learn techniques to keep you happily at your job of bringing yourself and the people closer to God.

Why not download you FREE copy of our time management ebook.

You can go from this effective time management page to professional boundaries for ministry page.

Or you can...



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