The second step is putting the system to work. This step tends to trip people up.
If you have assembled a system for getting things done, but you’re not getting those things done, consider whether one of these five pitfalls is making hindering the productivity of your productivity system.
1. You’re missing the right tools.
I’m not talking about what are commonly called “productivity tools” like task lists, calendars, etc. These are actually organizing tools. All they do is organize what you need to do and where you need to be.
Productivity tools are the ones that help you produce something. For carpenters, they are hammers and nails. For pastors, they are commentaries, theological dictionaries, articles, Bible software, etc.
Are you stuck in your sermon prep because you’re missing the best commentary? Hop on Amazon and grab it.
2. You don’t allow your task list to guide you throughout the day.
It’s one thing to have your calendars and task lists completely updated. But if you don’t have the habit of looking at them throughout your day, then you will not be as productive.
Your email, voicemail, and inner dialogue will turn into your task list. Which you means you will be very productive for other people’s goals, but not your own.
3. You don’t regularly review your commitments.
You need to regularly review your work. If you procrastinate it to the point that it is always “catching up” rather than “planning forward,” it should come as no surprise that you are not being as productive as you could be.
Every week is ideal, but at least every other week, go through all your stuff to remind yourself of everything you need to do.
4. Your goals miss the “sweet spot.”
The “sweet spot” for a goal lies in that spot between I can totally handle this and there’s no way this will work.
If your goals reside on one side or the other, you won’t be motivated to get after them. If it is completely within your reach, it will be easy for you to procrastinate it. If it seems to far beyond your reach, the fear of failure you face will keep you from tackling it.
That sweet spot in between provides the confidence and sense of adventure that thrusts you into your work.
5. The unexpected events of ministry.
The first four things we can control. This one we can’t. We can’t predict when ministry will throw us a curve ball. But when it happens, our productivity is sure to drop.
But when you have been putting your productivity system to work – not just in place – you are more likely to survive the surprises and emergencies of ministry without being overwhelmed.
Then, when those surprises come, you will perceive the unique opportunities they provide.
The common denominator: failure to plan.
Each of the five pitfalls above reflect a failure to plan (although in the fifth, planning is impossible). How you plan effects what you accomplish. It is a trustworthy saying and worthy of full acceptance, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
So commit yourself to godly planning in ministry, trusting in the Lord, not yourself.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established…The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:3, 9).