Systems & Tips

Time Management for Overworked Church Workers

The following is a guest post from Nick Thacker.

Are you a church worker, pastor, or volunteer? Are you the kind of person who spends every waking hour (literally) on Sunday mornings helping out with anything and everything?

Do you struggle with finding the time to prepare throughout the week to serve effectively on Sunday? Is stress on Sunday morning sometimes a barrier to you being spiritually fed?

I’m one of those people. Currently, I’m serving as the Music Director for my small church plant in Texas, and I’ve also served briefly as the Youth Director. During the week, I’m a marketing consultant at a Christian website. I run a Christian worship leader resource website, a personal blog, a side business – and I’m writing a novel.

I’m not trying to impress anyone with the amount of stuff I’ve got going on—I know you all have your “stuff” as well—kids, spouses, softball leagues, businesses, etc.—I’m just trying to point out that without a clarified, specific, and consistent “action plan” for my week, it’d be impossible for me to be ready for Sunday morning.

Ready to Worship

Maybe you’re a church musician who’s also trying to handle printing and organizing copies of music. Maybe you’re just a volunteer in charge of helping schedule Life Groups for Wednesday night.

Whatever you do, you need to be able to show up on Sunday morning (or whenever else you’re there for church) and just worship. I want to focus on worshiping God on Sunday, not wondering where my drummer is, if the light rig is too bright, or if I returned that Email.

Here’s a bit of what I do that helps me “get focused” when I walk in the church doors. Hint: it starts way before Sunday!

  1. Get your mind right. Early in the week, prayerfully consider what it is that you’re going to do this week. This means get down on your hands and knees and specifically and intentionally ask God to give you insight and wisdom in planning out your week and each day of it. Pray for your family and friends to support you in this, and then thank Him for what he’s blessed you with so far.
  2. Get focused. Block out things that you don’t need to help you plan. No email, internet, TV, Frisbee in the park, etc. Just a pencil and paper, or an electronic to-do list, are perfect. You’ve already cleared your mind and are prepared to thoughtfully start planning, don’t let distractions break your kung-fu focus.
  3. Get going. Start by writing everything out into your chosen planning system. I find a simple list works best—don’t try to format as you go; don’t try to organize by area (Errands, Church, Home, Work, etc.)—just brainstorm and go nuts.
  4. Take a brief break. A simple 5-10 minute break will work wonders when you come back to your list.
  5. After your break, do it again. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like I always forget something (or 20 somethings…) when I go through my list the first time. The break should help you further focus on the stuff you’ll need to do during the week.
  6. Organize by section. This is where you’ll actually split stuff up into groups—make a group for each larger project or area in your life (Getting Things Done by David Allen is good for explaining this part as well).
  7. Schedule. When you’re done grouping, try to split the tasks up throughout the week into places that make sense (“work”-related tasks can be done at work, “Church” stuff might be able to be done anytime, etc.). It’s hard to be specific about this part, since everyone’s schedules are so different.
  8. Start marking stuff off. Once you’ve got a good idea about what to do, there’s nothing left to do except do it!

I know, I know—this all sounds so basic! …And it is. You’ve heard it all before, probably right here on Life of a Steward, but it bears repeating: Write down the goals/tasks, organize them, and start doing them. I can’t imagine not having a set time each week to send set lists, update the repertoire, and communicate regularly with the band members—these are necessary things, but easily forgotten or pushed under the rug without proper organization in place.

Develop a habit. Once you do this for a few weeks, you’ll be able to step back from micro-managing the system, and let it actually work for you. I don’t think about sending the set lists for the church musicians anymore—it’s just part of my normal Tuesday lunch breaks at work.

Finally, don’t worry. Jesus never worried, and it seems to me he’s a pretty amazing role model to have! Why worry about stuff? You can either change it or you can’t—be willing to change the things you can, and be able to let go of the things you can’t.

Thanks for reading, and to all you “Weekend Warriors” out there: let me know in the comments section what you’re doing to manage your time throughout the week to stay sane (enough) on Sunday morning!

About Nick Thacker: Nick Thacker runs a website called Life Hacks for Living Well, which is all about “hacking” your life to optimize it for the better. He blogs about cooking, staying in shape, money management, and general life improvement. Check him out at or subscribe to his RSS feed.

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