Time Management for Sunday School Leaders, Part 1

Tuesday 29th January, 2008

Revolutionary Sunday School requires more than two four-letter words: time and work. It also requires the wisest investment of that time and work. Many teachers, directors, and pastors are spending lots of time doing Sunday School work, but they are only doing good things rather than the best things. This is the difference between being "busy" and making a difference/being effective. We all have the same amount of time. The difference is how we use the time and energy we have.

There are hundreds of ways that Sunday School leaders can manage their time more effectively. Allow me to share ten time management suggestions from an article entitled Top 10 Time Tamers. In Part 1, we will look at the first five tips. The "time tamers" are in all capitals followed by my commentary and application to your work in Sunday School:

  • WRITE DOWN YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS. This is important for the teacher, director, or pastor. Seek God's leadership. Determine what needs/dreams you need to address. Set priorities. Determine goals. Write them down!!! If you don't write them, you probably won't pursue them. The article says, "Use the SMART formula; make them Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Time-bound." But I also want to challenge you to make sure your goals are God-sized.
  • EVERYDAY, DIVIDE YOUR TASKS INTO A, B, AND C PRIORITIES. Another way to do this is the way Ivy Lee suggested to Charles Schwab back in 1925 when Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Ivy told him to write down the six most important things Charles had to do tomorrow and then number them in order of importance. Then start working on number one the next day until it is complete, and then work on number two. That is the idea behind the A, B, and C priorities, especially when your list has more than six priority items for tomorrow. The article says, "Always start with a high priority 'A' task, even if you can only accomplish a small part of it." And avoid spending all of your time putting out fires so that you don't have enough to figure deal with prevention!
  • BLOCK OFF TIME FOR ACTIVITIES THAT ARE IMPORTANT. Notice the end word, "important." Determine what is important. Then schedule the time it deserves. If you don't, you won't be prepared or do it well. This is true for prayer, planning, and people.
  • STOP SPENDING TIME ON TRIVIA. Give away what others can do. Allow them to make a difference by being involved in important ways. Focus on what is important. This is harder for some personalities than it is for others. Prepare well, but don't stress yourself out over-preparing. Simplify. Reduce. Focus. Get your Sunday School secretary to up a system for ordering literature. Ask your class outreach leader to put a contact process in place. Ask teachers to enlist their own substitutes.
  • HAVE COURAGE TO SAY NO. Being revolutionary means making tough choices. You cannot do everything and make the most difference. Have the guts to stand by your goals, priorities, and schedule. Realize that time management is not about trying to please everyone. For instance, as churches grow, pastors may have to decide to make only hospital visits to teachers, deacons, and key church leaders while depending on teachers to make visits to their class members.
In Part 2, we will look at the last five "time tamers" from the article: always start meetings on time, slow down, avoid procrastinating by completing unpleasant tasks first, don't be a slave to technology, and create time for balance in your life. Where do you need to focus with the five items of Part 1? Don't work on all five of these at once. Focus on one until it has become a comfortable part of your routine, then begin working on the next area of need. Don't just be busy! Be revolutionary!

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