One of the curses of youth ministry is that our seasons are dictated by many calendars (scholastic, annual, and/or liturgical). This can cause a constant start and stop routine that gets old quickly.
As we approach Christmas, most of us are not only heading into a busy time of year but one that is followed by an abrupt stop.
During this stoppage, teens vanish and so do our volunteers. But right after that stop we're expected to get up and going right where we left off! In order to manage this hectic time of year we need to get ahead. However, it's fair to ask: "Is it even possible?" My answer is YES. Even if you don't want to get ahead (and all you want is to survive), you need to make sure you remember the basics.
When things get crazy and you find yourself in a position of, "What am I supposed to be doing?" or if you feel the pile gets so high and you ask, "Where do I start?" the basics help you focus, move forward and persevere. What are those basics?
Tightening Your Schedule
Assign yourself start and stop times. Even if you can't stick to them precisely, at least assign a time when you'll walk into the office and when you will walk out. If you have to check work at home, make sure you schedule time for family and time for solitude. Make sure you set double alarms for your meetings even if you've never done that before. If you can keep your schedule you can keep your sanity. Yes, busy seasons mean lots of tangents. However, a schedule will help you get back on course.
Managing Your Priorities
We all have a lot to do. However, it never seems all that bad if you list them out. Granted the list might take up a few pages! But what you do next is arrange them into three categories:
- What must be done now ?
- What can wait?
- What can be delegated?
By categorizing your tasks you create an achievable action plan. The goal is to just go through them one at a time till you reach the end.
Removing All Distractions
Whether it's tossing the Christmas candy that shouts, "Eat me!" or locking your office door, minimize as many distractions as possible. If you're worried about surfing the web or talking with coworkers, put it into your schedule. It might seem a bit over the top. However, setting up a focused sanctuary of productivity will help you in the long run.
Revisiting Your Goals
Getting ahead means bearing down and focusing on achieving the goal. Even if we don't get there in the manner and time we want, it's important to revisit and know them. If we only think of the process and not the end result we'll find ourselves going in circles. Name your goals, list them out and move towards them. Getting ahead means being productive and efficient. It shouldn't matter how busy the season of life you're in, if you set parameters and limits you avoid falling off the path.
When life gets busy it just means checking in a few more times than usual. In the end remind yourself it's a season, and that God is with you.
Even if the progress is small know that you kept moving forward.