In my coaching with children’s pastors, or on-line training with churches, I am always saddened by the carnage that comes from the lies about how multi tasking is more efficient. I won’t argue here this time in the many reasons why I say multi tasking is not good, nor will I list all the studies that have proved this fact as well. I will list some steps you can take starting now to recapture your fragmented time, attention and productivity.
* Focus. Focus starts with having a very clear definition of what winning looks like for your children’s ministry. Be as specific as possible.
To help you stay focused, keeping your goals and objectives in front of you throughout the day is beneficial. Put them on your computer screen and carry them with you on your smart phone. Set up task reminders, or write them on your whiteboard. Post-It in your office or on your mirror at home.
Do whatever it takes to keep your goals visible as you move through the day. When you get distracted or interrupted, these visual cues will serve as powerful reminders to refocus on what’s really important.
* Schedule alone time. Here’s where most children’s pastors struggle. We get results through other people, so we’re supposed to constantly be in meetings, on the phone, IM’ing, solving problems and giving feedback, right? It just doesn’t feel right to shut our office door, turn off the cell phone, and work by ourselves without interruption for any length of time.
Yet, research shows time and again that effective leaders made time for long periods of uninterrupted time to perform at peak levels. Alone time allows us to slow down and look at things differently. It reduces stress and gets the creative juices flowing.
* Manage your information/interruption flow. Develop a system and structure for managing the tidal wave of information that comes to you each day, starting with taking control of your email inbox. Instead of answering emails as they arrive, pick one or two (maybe three) times of the day to review and respond to email. Be ready for some potential hurt feelings as you will most likely uncover how you are not as important as you once thought and people can wait for your comments or they will come up with the correct answers without you.
Make it a policy to respond only to those emails that need action or a decision from you. If something needs your immediate attention, have people contact you in person, or by phone. This also helps sort through the topics that some believed were of utmost importance when all they had to do was type a quick email, but now they need to invest more of their time to get their answers. The value of most of their questions will be downgraded almost instantly.
The same goes for voice and text messages on your cell phone or PDA. Shut them down, turn them off, and focus on the task at hand! And no, turning them to vibrate doesn’t count. Coach your direct reports on what kind of information and issues they should bring to you and what you expect them to handle on their own.
Multitasking is more than just a bad habit. It’s a threat to your effectiveness as a leader and the success of your ministry. Integrate these principles into your daily routine and you’ll become more focused and productive while setting an example that everyone in your organization would do well to follow.