Youth Ministry Management: How to Get Stuff Done, When Stuff is Piling Up!

We are a few weeks into the Fall season and for me this has been one of the busiest seasons I have encountered in a while. It’s usually about this time of year when the non-stop busy schedule has created a backlog of tasks and to do lists that seem to keep growing and growing. (At least, that is the case for me).

It’s times like this when it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like we are drowning in a sea of administration and programatic mess. It’s times like these when we have to become ruthless and focused to get back on top of youth ministry management. Here are a few things I am doing to get back on top of things:

1) Take Regular Rests: Not what you were expecting? But, this is the most cruciall step for me. It’s been a busy season and it’s easy to become inefficient and sloppy when I get tired. At times like this I need to ensure that I am resting in order to work more effectively, efficiently, and conscientiously when I am in the office.

2) Be Ruthless: At the beginning of a typical week I take my google task list and move all the most important tasks to the top of the lists. For me, these always include: a) Contact time with students and leaders. b) Message writing c) Meeting planning. Everything else gets bumped until the major things are done. It’s then I get to my admin and emails etc.

3) Check Email Infrequently: If you have email on your phone this is a hard one to do. However, I find it best to check my email in chunks at certain times of the day. Usually I would check it 4-5 times a day when I have more time, but for now I find myself checking email twice a day. It’s also worth noting that we can become easily unfocused by constant new tasks that come our way through email. It’s better to dictate your email than let email dictate your task list…

4) Don’t Reply to Every Email and Phone Call Instantly: There are some emails and phone calls that are important, granted. However, not every phone call is an emergency and not every email needs immediate attention. Wherever I can, I try to add the emails and voicemails to my task list and “chunk them out” at a later time.

5) ‘Chunk Out’ Emails and Phone Calls Together: As I said above, I try to add emails and voicemails to my task list and get them done together. I typically have Tuesdays as my admin and meeting day. It is here where I try to get back to people and ensure they hear from me.

6) Communicate Your Schedule: Ensure that key people know you are in a crunch and will likely take a little longer to get back to them in the next few weeks while you get back on top of things, (Just don’t take a few weeks to get back to them though)!

7) Don’t Waste Your Time: I often here people complain about being too busy to be able to catch up, yet they are still able to write on everyone’s Facebook wall or play XBOX 360. In seasons of busyness, it’s imperative that we ruthless in every way. It also means giving up a few home comforts in order that we can get back on top of things.

8) Delegate! Recruit people to help you with as many things you can hand off. Know that it might not be done the way you want it to be done, but at least it’s getting done. I am always presently surprised how much ownership and fulfillment it brings to people when they know have helped me at busy and messy time. Bless someone by letting them help you!

Well, that’s what I am working on… How about you? What tips do you have? 

Phil <><

7 Responses to Youth Ministry Management: How to Get Stuff Done, When Stuff is Piling Up!

  1. Karl Peterson October 11, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Great stuff! Though the xbox comment kind of hurt, lol. Straight on thanks for the tips.

  2. Phil Bell October 11, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Welcome Karl! Just know that everything I write on here I have spoken to myself first. The XBOX and Facebook comments are for me too 🙂

  3. Brian Seidel October 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Great thoughts Phil, the one I struggle with the most is still resting…even if I do play video games while I rest 🙂 Yet, I have realized things do get done faster and better if I do take time to rest than if I didn’t.

  4. Dave October 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Great book is “Getting Things Done; The Art of Stress Free Productivity” by David Allen

    I’ve implemented the 2 min rule. If something comes my way that i can knock out in two min. I do it then. If not I stack it until later. It helps me keep the stack from growing.

  5. youthworktalk October 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Dave, that’s a great book! A friend gave to me a few years ago. Highly practical!

  6. kolby October 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm #


    great post. These tips are simple, yet hard to achieve. I read a great book this summer called the 4 hour work week, and Tim Ferris talks a lot about emails and not living in a state of urgency.

  7. Phil Bell October 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Kolby, I could not agree more. It takes a great deal of discipline and confidence to say no to the emails and voicemails that come our way. It is definitely something that has to be learned and worked on. However, it does get easier as we work at it.

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