Ministry Inside.68


Does something need to be done? Write it down. Put it on paper, your iPhone, or your iPad. But write it down.

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That may seem obvious, but many people don’t do this.

Most Thursdays I write this post for church leaders. I am amazed at how many church leaders do not write things down. Think about what happens on a typical Sunday. I learned a long time ago that I need to write this information down or I will not remember half of what was said to me.

  • You meet a new family.
  • Someone asks you to pray for their dad.
  • A person recommends a book.
  • Someone else asks if you can meet for coffee.
  • A woman introduces you to her co-worker.

This is a lot of information to attempt to remember without writing it down.

For years, I used a form of Franklin-Covey to help me keep track of tasks, etc. This particular system helped remind me that much of life involved a number of different roles (father, husband, minister, friend, community member, etc.). Not only did I need some sort of “to do” list for work but for the other roles in my life as well.

For the last few years, I have been using a form of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I am not going to attempt to explain this system in a post. However, I do want to mention a few principles that have been helpful to me.

1. Write down whatever tasks need to be done. (See Michael Hyatt’s excellent post, “When You Feel Overwhelmed By Your Workload.” He has excellent thoughts concerning priorities.)

2. If a task actually has several steps, see it as a project. For example, if you are helping put together an event at your church or in your community, think of all the tasks involved in pulling off that event. (I have a list of each project I am working on and the key tasks involved in making that project a reality.)

3. Beside my list of projects is a list of broken down into specific categories (e-mails, notes, calls, errands, etc.). In other words, all of the phone calls I need to make are under the “Calls” heading. Right now, I have a list of about 15 e-mails that need to be sent. I will probably do most of these in one block of time. This may sound obvious, but it can keep you from bouncing from one task to another throughout the day.

4. While all of this is online (I use Google Calendar, Things, and Evernote primarily), I keep a paper copy of each day’s to do list, as well as my weekly priorities, on my desk in front of me.

5. At the end of the week, I review all of my projects and the list of tasks. What has been done this week? What have I missed? What needs to be done next week? Does this ever help! This helps prevent things from “slipping up” on me. It also prevents other things from slipping through the cracks.

(Those of you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done know I have not done it justice. You can read more about this at David Allen’s website.)

Bottom line: Use what works for you. There is no perfect system. However, an imperfect system is usually better than no system at all.

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  • http://www.lantzhoward.com Lantz Howard

    Totally agree. Another great read “Making Ideas Happen” and their application “Action Method Online.” I have been using their system for almost 2 years now.

    However, I agree…write it down, find a system that works, and then write it down again.

  • Jim Martin

    Lantz, thanks so much for your comment and for what you said regarding Making Ideas Happen. I was not familiar with this. I went to Amazon and downloaded a sample to my Kindle. Glad this works for you.