4 Simple Steps to Getting Things Done Without Burning Out, Pt 1

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Life started getting pretty busy for me in high school. Up until that point I was able to keep all of the things I needed to do in my head. But starting in high school that system stopped working for me.

Between all the work for my classes, my job, extra curricular like student council, going to church, and hanging out with family and friends I just couldn’t keep up. And things only got worse in college.

So I started reading books and listening to speakers about time management (Doug Fields’ approach to this outlined here was HUGELY influential to me) and came up with a system that’s helped keep me on track. I boiled it down to about four steps I need to take each week to make sure I’m getting the right things done without burning out or neglecting my family and friends.

Here they are:

1. Identify your roles
Having a task list beats not writing stuff down and forgetting to do it. But the problem with this approach is that every item on the list feels equally important. So I figured out what roles I play and started putting my tasks under each role. Here are the roles I have right now:

Personal: This is where I take care of my health, nurture my faith, hobbies, rest, etc. This comes first because I can’t take care of anyone else until I take care of myself.

Family: This is time with my wife, kids, extended family and friends.

Pastor: Since I work at a church this is time I spend with our parents and kids, counseling couples, hospital visits, and performing weddings and funerals.

Leader: While I have the title of Pastor at my church I’m also a leader. So I have a team of volunteers and staff I oversee, I meet with other leaders, attend conferences, read books and listen to podcasts to sharpen my skills, and develop plans to move the ministry forward.

Teacher: This is time I set aside to study, think, create, prepare, and deliver messages about the Bible.

Administrator: This is where I return emails, write our parent newsletter, balance the budget, etc.

These roles are in order of importance for me. So for example a task or appointment under my Pastor role usually takes priority over a task under my Administrator role. Likewise something under my Family role trumps something under my Leader role.

Having this system not only prioritizes for me what I need to work on it also helps me know what NOT to work on because I only have so much time to work.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about what to do once you’ve identified your roles, prioritized them, and organized your tasks under them. In the meantime start thinking about what your roles are, what priority they come in, and put your tasks under the right role.

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