This is the second post in a series on How To Get Organized. If you missed the first one, be sure to check it out.
Pastors need to be organized in order to run on all cylinders. Yet our information-driven world bogs us down with clutter and slows down our work.
I have found these five tools indispensable for staying organized. They are simple to use, and allow me to handle pretty much everything that comes my way (or gets in my way). I’m sure they will be a tremendous help for you, too.
1. The Inbox
An inbox is where you put everything you need to deal with, but can’t deal with right now. It goes on your desk because that’s where things pile up. Put all your loose, disorganized stuff in the inbox, and set aside a time each day to go through it.
- Your desk will never stay messy.
- No more lost papers, letters, receipts, etc. since you have a dedicated place to toss them.
- That peaceful, no-loose-ends feeling you get after you deal with everything in your inbox, and it’s empty.
The stuff in your inbox is not totally organized because you haven’t decided a permanent place for the items. But it’s not disorganized either, since it’s collected into one place. The inbox is kinda like the inaugurated eschatological point of organizational tension for your stuff.
2. Ubiquitous Capture Device
This is something for you to record the important – and often random – thoughts that float into your brain. Write them down so you don’t have to keep trying to remember them. This device could be a small notebook, a moleskin, or your smart phone. You take it with you everywhere (hence, “ubiquitous”).
- No more of that nagging “I feel like I’m forgetting something” feeling.
- Remember illustrations that pop into your head.
- Remember to follow up when you tell someone you will do something for them.
The key is to make a habit of capturing these things. Your brain will not remember. This will.
3. Filing System
Files are for information that will be useful later. You don’t need it now, so it doesn’t need to be on your desk. But you might want it some day, so it doesn’t belong in the trash.
- Get rid of the piles of paper on your desk or shelf.
- Know where to find information that you need in a moment’s notice.
- You’ll recognize things worth storing when you get into the habit of filing.
Before you know it, you’ll have a girth of ingredients for several sermon series to preach, Sunday school classes to teach, or books to write.
A calendar is not only for scheduling the five or six meetings you have throughout the week. It’s a tool for organizing all your time. Put time for personal work and activities on your calendar, not just appointments.
- Never be late to another appointment (especially if you use alerts with Outlook or iCal).
- When scheduling your own work, you’ll get a picture of how much time you’ll need to fulfill your responsibilities.
- The ability to say no – with integrity – to the next opportunity that does not align with your current direction. When you schedule your time, too, you can politely say no because you truly have another commitment.
5. Projects and Actions Lists
These list out the big things you need to accomplish (projects) and the individual tasks (actions) it will take to get them done. For example, a project would be “plan church retreat.” But that desired outcome gives little direction for what you actually have to do. Actions related to that project would be “call retreat center re pricing” or “add retreat brainstorming session to staff meeting agenda.”
The distinction between a project and an action is important. You have to break things down into individual steps. The bigger the project, the more helpful this is.
- Remember what you are supposed to do today. It’s already laid out for you on your lists.
- See how small a project really is. When you break them down into individual actions, they tend not to be as scary.
- Less procrastination because you don’t have to think about what you need to do. Just do it.
Smaller projects can be accomplished in one sitting, but bigger projects take several actions or other mini-projects. The idea is to keep doing the single actions until the project is complete.
Are you a disorganized pastor? As nerdy as some of these sound (especially #2), they will get you organized immediately. Which tool do you think you need most?
Don’t miss the rest of this series on How To Get Organized:
- 3 Signs You’re Not as Organized as You Think
- 5 Nerdy Tools That Will Make You an Organizational Jock
- You Don’t Have to Be a Neat-Freak to Stay Organized
- How To Set Up Your Files for Efficient and Effective Sermon Prep
- Task List Options from Around the Web: Choose What Works Best for You