6 Ways to Find More Time in Youth Ministry

Time Flies in Youth Ministry

I’ve counseled and supervised dozens of youth workers over the past fifteen  years. Most of the time our meetings have a similar theme… they’re overworked and can’t find enough time for the things that matter most.

6 Ways to Find More Time

I’ve spent dozens of hours seeking, researching, and practicing principles, habits, and methods to be more productive with the little things in order to be present and give attention to the things that matter most in life and ministry.

Here are six sustainable practices you can start doing now—I’ve found they make a significant difference in my ability to be more efficient with my time, I hope and pray that these tips might free up even a little more of your most precious commodity.

1. Plan your day every morning.

Before you do any work, make a list of your appointments for the day, the most important projects you need to do, and the most important tasks you need to accomplish for the day. Take just four minutes to do this before you do any other “work” and it will help you stay focused and accomplish the work that matters. I like Donald Miller’s “Storybrand Productivity Schedule” that you can find here for free.

Although preparing to serve can be hard, it’s worth doing for your own health and the health of your ministry.

2. Try the Ivy Lee Method.

This is simple: just wrap up each work day by writing down your most important to-do items for the next day. Ivy-Lee recommends no more than six items. This simple practice is something that effective people have been doing since the to-do list was invented. At the end of each day (or evening) of work, just jot down a short list. This allows you to free your mind of those tasks and sets you up for the next morning. You can read more about it here.

3. Do your most important work first.

We have the highest amount of creative and mental energy early in the day. The brain is like a muscle, and it actually burns a majority of our energy throughout the day. As we go throughout the day, we have less and less mental and creative energy to use.

So, do the most important work that requires the most focus and energy early in the day when you have the most mental energy. This will allow you to not only get the projects or work that are most important for the day done first, but also more quickly because you’ll have more energy to focus. This sounds simple, but can have a profound impact on your overall productivity. There are many articles you could read about this—here’s one to get you started.

4. Don’t check your email!

Email, texts, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook can kill your focus and drain massive amounts of your time. Don’t open your email or notifications until later in the day after you’ve finished more significant and mentally challenging work.

Save email and social media correspondence for later in the day when you don’t need as much mental clarity, or creativity. Most productivity experts advise to only check your email two or three times each day. If you can get into this habit, you will be amazed at how much you can get accomplished without the constant distractions of email and notifications buzzing at all times throughout the day.

Check your email at set times such as 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. That will give you time to respond as needed. Turn off all social media notifications as well while you’re working on projects so you don’t get distracted. There are a bunch of tools you could use to help you with this—here’s one you can check out to get you started.

5. Set a clear agenda for every meeting and follow up.

Never meet without an agenda to keep you focused and on track, and after every meeting, send a quick follow-up email with a list of to-do’s that each person committed to doing. Most of the work happens in between meetings, so follow-up after a meeting is of the utmost importance. Use the formula “John agreed to do X by Y(date)” in order to give clear communication and hold people accountable. There is a ton of reading you can do about how to hold more effective meetings—here’s a brief article to start.

11 Youth Ministry Hacks6. Read our e-book, “11 Hacks for Youth Ministry!”

We wrote an entire e-book with a bunch of tips and tricks like this so you can focus on what matters most! Download it for free!

Prepare to Serve

All disciplines and habit-forming are difficult, including these six practices. What helps is remembering why the discipline is important and recognizing that each of these disciplines requires practice. Getting better at time management doesn’t happen overnight! Although preparing to serve can be hard, it’s worth doing for your own health and the health of your ministry.

So what are you waiting for? Pick a practice and begin today!


About the Author: Zach Gurick

Zach Gurick

Zach started in youth ministry in 2001 and has developed ministries for middle school, high school, and college aged students in cities throughout the state of Florida. He’s also the co-founder of Kindred Youth Ministry. He loves to study theology, leadership development, and is especially interested in spiritual formation. Click here to read more about Zach.

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