I often hear the question, “How much does your church expect you to be in the office?” thrown around in youth worker groups. It’s valid to want to clarify that expectation, but the undertone is usually pretty negative. Office hours make us think of the grunt work that isn’t the shiniest part of ministry. Let’s look at some strategies to make office hours a productive part of your day that enables you to do relational work later.
- Find Your Sweet Spot — What 2-3 hour chunk are you the clearest and productive each day? The zone where I think clearest is in the morning. So, I guard that and always include it into the time of day that I do office hours. Schedule a meeting, errands, or out of office relational time when your brain isn’t in full focus mode.
- Have Starting and Stopping Rituals to Your Office Time — There are things we do when we wake up or right before we go to sleep that signal to our brain what is about to happen next. Why not bring that same patterning to our office environment?
To begin my day:
- I try to eliminate any distractions that I think might pop up during my best hours.
- I grab a bottle of water and a cup of coffee.
- I make a lap around the office to check in with anyone that I have loose ends that need tying up.
- I rewrite (by hand – gasp!) my goals for the day.
- I turn my cell phone on silent and flip it upside down.
Then, I get cranking.
To end my day:
- I check and reply to messages.
- Check to see if any of my goals/objectives didn’t get finished and need to be bumped to another day.
- I look to see what evening obligations I may have that night.
- I straighten my desk.
- Group Like Items — Brains flow better in the same train of thought. If I’m justifying my credit card bill for my treasurer, then I’m going to stay in that financial lane for a while. I might create a trip budget or send camp financial reminders to parents. Themed work keeps you focused. We lose so much time in the transitions from one type of task to the next.
- Do One Task a Day You Hate — We procrastinate things that we don’t like doing or that we are scared of facing. If you commit to doing one item like this a day they tend to not pile up and further add to your stress level.
- Give Yourself Mini Rewards — If you are tackling a monster project, break it up into pieces and reward yourself for hitting milestones. Maybe if you write a thousand words, you get to take a walk around the parking lot. Or if you clean out your email inbox, you take a cup of coffee to a coworker. We can wander mentally when we feel overwhelmed. Dangle a carrot to keep you brain on track.
- Get Some Daily Habits — On Mondays I check our digital stats and on Thursdays I followup with new students. After years of routine, those actions are basically automatic. Are there weekly routine tasks that you can lock into a day so they don’t fall into the cracks?
I pray that office hours will no longer be a chore for you but instead become an opportunity that enables the other facets of your ministry to come alive.
For further office administration help check out these resources in the DYM Store:
- Organized Daily To Do List — https://www.downloadyouthministry.com/organized-daily-to-do-list
- Roles & Goals Time Management Tool — https://www.downloadyouthministry.com/free-youth-ministry-time-management-doug-fields
Allison has been in full-time ministry for 14 years. She loves the pastoral care aspect of ministry and seeks out ways to shepherd and encourage students and youth workers. Her current ministry is crib-to-college. In her free time, Allison loves reading, taking barre classes, and cooking. Connect with her on twitter: @allisoneliza