Friday, August 29, 2008

Unusual Time Saving Tips

Most pastors could easily fill dozens of extra hours a week with productive ministry — if they simply had more time. I’ll share a few of my slightly weird time saving tips.

1. I’ll Meet You in Your Office

When you need to do a quick face to face meeting with another staff member, tell them you’ll swing by their office. When you’ve covered everything important, you can politely leave — the meeting is over.

If someone is in your office, the person may not know when the meeting is over. A quick, few-minute meeting can linger and bleed over into longer and less important conversations. When you’re in someone else’s office, you can politely exit much easier than you can ask someone to leave your office.

2. Let’s Have Lunch in My Office

Eating out can be a huge time waster. (I’m not saying that having a nice, long lunch isn’t occasionally important, necessary, or enjoyable.) Travel time to many restaurants takes 15 to 30 minutes (or more). Many restaurant meals can take 45 minutes to an hour. A simple lunch can easily eat an hour and a half of your day.

I suggest some other options:

- If you don’t have a lunch appointment, consider bringing lunch from home. Not only can you save money but also time. You can eat in a few minutes in your office and continue working.
- If you don’t have a lunch appointment and didn’t bring your lunch, you might ask another team member to bring you a sandwich if he or she is going out.
- If someone invites you to lunch, you might suggest they join you in your office. If you have an assistant, he or she can grab lunch for you; or you can order-in for delivery. You can spend 45 minutes or an hour of quality time with someone without leaving your office. (If you invite someone to lunch, you’ll probably prefer to honor them and travel to a place that is convenient for them.)

3. Plan for Shorter Appointments

For some reason, when someone schedules an appointment with a pastor, they generally assume it will be a one hour appointment.

Most one hour appointments could be handled in much less time.

Years ago, I shortened my appointments to 45 minutes. We’d explain ahead of time that I have 45 minutes allotted for the meeting. No one complained. We got to the important stuff a lot faster.

After some time, I shortened most meetings to 30 minutes and some to 10 or 15. It is amazing how much important ground you can cover when both parties understand how much time you have to work with and you get right to the important issues.

It also helps to back appointments up to each other. If you have a 1:00 p.m. appointment, you might schedule your next one at 1:45 instead of 2:00. When some people want to go past their time, someone else can politely interrupt and explain that your next appointment is waiting.

4. Do Fewer Meetings

Most people in ministry do way too many meetings.

Instead of scheduling a typical 1 or 2 hour meeting, you might try a 15 minute touch-base meeting. You may cover even more in that brief time.

Or better yet, cut the frequency of your meetings in half. Instead of meeting weekly, try meeting every other week. If that is not possible, you might cancel 1 of 4 meetings a month.

Doing fewer meeting forces you to think further ahead and encourages better planning and intentional communication.

5. Don’t Take Incoming Calls

On very busy days, you might choose not to immediately receive incoming calls.

When I’m crunched for time, I’ll give my cell phone to my assistant. She’ll screen calls for me all day. Generally she can find out what a person needs. When I come out of the office, she might ask me a few quick questions and she can respond to my calls for me.

Instead of handling calls as they come in, you can return them all at once. I like to return calls when I’m traveling in the car making that time more productive.

What suggestions do you have on this subject? (Click "comments" below.)

[by Craig Groeschel -]

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