Less Can Be More: How Ruthless Calendaring Will Make Your Work More Productive

Here are two words that you do not expect to read in a single phrase: “ruthless” and “calendaring.” But, I hope that by the end of this post, I will have made them make sense together for 2014.

Recently, I spent an hour with the managers and publishing team leaders in my area to discuss our schedules. By virtue of working in a company, meetings are necessary. At least that’s what we think most of the time. What I have found is that some of our meetings have a less than necessary reason for existence. In order to order my life better, here is some major planning for 2014. Here’s is why I plan to do it and what I hope to accomplish.

1. Curb the pop-in-the-office meetings. I am incredibly guilty of this behavior and it causes everyone in our company to have permission to do the same. I hope to stop just popping into other offices unannounced. My leaders are gracious and don’t act as if they mind it. But I think it makes for too many spur-of-the-moment decisions and just eats up time. A better schedule will help us be more intentional with our conversations.

2. Establish the major conversations. In my calendaring for the next year, I am establishing the major conversations that will take place each week and/or month with others. For my core leadership, we will meet each week. For a group of my peers where I lead a “matrix” meeting across our adult ministry work, we will meet once a month. Without a doubt, there will be emergencies that arise that will require a meeting, but a pre-planned conversation will help us know when the conversations can be most fruitful.

3. Schedule conversations. A great part of leadership is relationship. I don’t want my relationships with our team to feel contrived but I know that the vast majority of our interactions simply revolve around our assigned work. The only way for me to spend any personal time where we talk about life, faith, family, and the things we enjoy is to schedule those conversations. It will take the form of walking to a coffee shop, going to lunch, or a planned break from the up-tempo pace of our work life.

4. Show patience. When it comes to work, I can be a hard-charging personality. I don’t know that I have this natural inclination or if it is a learned behavior. I guess it does not matter… it is who I very likely am at work. By holding to my scheduled meetings and conversations, it will help me practice patience. Rather than giving in to the impulse to rush around and force conversations and decisions, I hope that my calendaring will allow me to settle down. At least a little bit.

5. Establish a reason for every meeting. My coworkers know that I hate two things about meetings: when they are long and when we leave without a reason for having met. By doing this planning ahead of time, I hope to also establish a reason for every meeting to occur. It means that each meeting will not only a reason but also a plan for discussion and/or delegation.

6. Own your calendar by refusing to let others own it. We all work off of Google Calendar where others can search for an open spot on your schedule and send an invitation. I’ve decided that just because I have “white space” does not give others permission to own it. It is okay to say “no” to a meeting or delay it to another time.

I will likely have a mixture of success and failure in all of these areas. I’ll let you know how it goes along the way.

So… what are you doing to make this year more productive in your work?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

I serve as the Director of Adult Ministry Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I served as the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. Currently, I am a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship. We are a multisite church in Nashville determined to make an impact on our city and world. I’ve coauthored two books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I am also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have also written the small-group studies Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime. My wife, Angie, and I live in Tennessee, with our two sons, Andrew and Chris.

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I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
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I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
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