The To-Do List Curse
Posted by brianseidel
Last week a year of planning all culminated into one day. I was a part of planning a one day youth worker training for a denominational conference. Doug Fields came and taught for the day and it all went off very smoothly. I had a great time connecting with Doug and with all the other great youth workers that attended.
One of the topics Doug spoke to was leadership of yourself. His opening statement is still resonating within my heart; he said:
Public people tend to ignore the private side of their lives…until it is too late.
We discussed many different clues/ warning signs that your life might be out of balance. I feel like my life and ministry are in a pretty good balance, but one of them I see myself doing on a regular basis. Spending excess time on easy or unproductive tasks.
When I get stressed or pressured with a seemingly endless task list I do exactly that, I do the “easy” things first. I choose the things that only take a few minutes like checking email or making a quick phone call. I go for crossing the most off in the smallest amount of time instead of focusing on what is most important. I also tend to rush through these tasks just so I can cross them off, and end up making mistakes or not doing it completely. I also turn to easy and fun things that aren’t even on my task list like posting on twitter or reading blogs, and once I get sucked into these things an hour or more just disappears. When I let myself fall into this trap, I end up doing the “important” stuff during what should be my family time.
Message prep is important, I know it is. But it also takes a large chunk of uninterrupted time to do it well. Investing into a volunteer or a student with a deep unrushed conversation is hugely important, but it is just that—an investment. It takes planning and commitment, which means it sometimes gets pushed down the list. My personal prayer and Bible study time is essential to proper balance, yet it often times gets rushed through or completely ignored because of the looming task list.
The task list is not the enemy, but I am realizing that I put things on that list that don’t belong there. The most important things, the things that should not be rushed through and checked off need to be on my calendar, not my task list. After speaking nearly every week for 10 years I know how long it takes me to adequately prepare a message, so I need to just make it an appointment on my calendar. A meaningful conversation with a volunteer or student always takes an hour or longer. I know how much time my family deserves. These are all things that should be on my calendar.
If I put things on my calendar as appointments it helps me make the mental shift from just getting something done to purposefully investing into it. What is on your task list that should be on your calendar? What should be on your calendar that isn’t (like personal study, prayer, or family time)? What sucks hours from your day that isn’t on either one?
Posted on April 23, 2012, in My life, Youth Ministry and tagged balance, Doug Fields, healthy balance, mental-health, social media, time management, to do list. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.