I recently spend a couple hours sitting in the service department of a car dealership as one of our vehicles received some work for our annual state inspection. I took the time as an opportunity to go over my calendar, do a little planning, and to schedule out some appointments. We were already one busy week into the new year, so before the whole month spun out of control with the unexpected, I chose to take control of my weekly schedule.
I started by included time for my goals and plans for self-health. These would be things like personal quiet times, work out times, person study and development, and times for family nights and date nights with my wife. I also blocked out the weekends that my wife and I are setting aside for family adventures. Then I started filling in the regular appointments such as worship, staff meetings, monthly directors meeting with one of our pastors, weekly bible studies, youth group gatherings; the things that happen weekly or monthly. Then I went back and filled in time for planning, message study and prep, brainstorm sessions and trainings with our adult leaders, and meetings with some of my team coordinators. Next I block in time to plan and get ready for events and gatherings that are not regular student gatherings.
In about 45 minutes I had filled about 60% of my calendar. I looked at what I had just completed, noting how much the calendar had been filled. As I looked at my calendar, I thought to myself, 'there's not much time left for being with people.' I said to myself, "this is a problem."
Being organized and planning out your calendar, weekly and monthly, is good. I've been doing it for years. I've blogged and vlogged about it. I'm a huge fan of blocking out your calendar, setting aside time to in office work, study and prep work, and contact work. Like I said, I've been doing it for years. One of the reason I plan out my schedule like this is that it helps me to see how and where I am spending my time. I use different color pens and highlights to help create a visual record of my plans. When I see too much of one color, it causes me to look at that part of my ministry and ask, 'is there normal, is it a unique season requiring more time, or am I really unbalanced?' If there is too little of a color, I need to ask, 'what's happening in this area of my ministry.'
watch my vlog about block scheduling
But as I looked at my January projections, I didn't like that I had set aside 60% of my time to "work in the office" and only 40% to be with my students or with people. Now, let me also note that part of the 60% does include time I am setting aside for me as I work to keep myself healthy, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yes, some of the 60% is reserved for family time. But even in that, together those two things might equal about 15%, leaving 45% of my time for work.
Instead of spending the majority of my time sitting at my desk, I want to make sure that I am spending time connecting with my students, leaders, parents, and people from our community. That will require me flipping how I build out my weekly and monthly calendars.
So, starting next month, I'll begin the scheduling by blocking out time to be with people; students, leaders, parents, and people from the church and community. I want to re-establish the habit of putting people first. I want to make sure I am taking time to be available to my students and leaders. And I want to make sure relationships are a priority.
This is all the more important as we get back to ministry post-covid. Having spent the last 20-something months, mostly disconnected, working from home or from the office has becoming the norm. It's easy to fill up your schedule with busy work when you can't be with people. No doubt, covid has left us with some bad habits. But after two years of not always being able to meet up with students and leader, I want to make sure this years a year of connected with people.
How about you? How are you planning to reconnect with your students, leaders, parents, and the people from your church and community? What priority are you placing on the idea of spending time, one-on-one time with the people around you? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 30 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the director of family ministry at a church, located in West Virginia. Jay has been married to Amy for over 25 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.