I have been told that one of my strengths is organisation. How true that is is for those who know me to decide. Regardless, I have been asked recently by someone in the ministry about how to get more organised. So I thought I would write out some of the things I have learned about organisation.
1. Organise Your Roles.
One of the keys to getting things done is to realise that you cannot do everything. You must learn to say no to many things so that you can say yes to the right things.
The questions is, how do you determine the right things? In my mind, as a follower of Jesus, the right things are:
- those that fulfil God’s will for your life
- those that are unique to God’s specific call on your life, and
- those that correspond to the specific roles God has given you, such as husband, father, pastor, teacher, parent, discipler, employee, etc.
So, first, take some time to write out what roles God has given you and then list under those roles the main responsibilities that related to each role. If you are struggling to figure out what those responsibilities are, then get some advice from an older/wiser person who has experience and has been successful in fulfilling those particular roles.
Take notes, and then take some time to pray and filter all that advice and information through Scripture. As you work on this process, remember that organisation is more of a journey than a destination. Just about the time you think you have arrived, you will find some area of your life that needs more work. Just keep working on the process, and you will look back at amazement at how far God brought you.
2. Organise Your Tasks.
Each God-given role has certain responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order for you to be a success in that area. Each area of responsibility should be broken down into smaller steps (tasks) in order to make the job easier and more manageable.
For example, I am a preacher. In order to preach, I must do two things: 1) prepare sermons and 2) preach sermons. But that list does not really help me get the job of sermon preparation and delivery done. I need to break that process up into bite-sized pieces. A more realistic task list for sermon preparation could looks something like this:
- Read and listen to the text five times
- Make preliminary notes and observations
- Read commentaries
- Formulate the big idea
- Make an outline
- Make applications
- Insert Illustrations
These tasks (to dos) need to be recorded somewhere so you remember them and so that you actually start making progress in important areas of responsibility. You can use a simple piece of paper or a phone app, but the key is to start writing down what you need to do. Keep updating your list with new tasks, crossing out completed tasks, and working your list. As you cross something out, you will gain momentum that will help you accomplish other tasks.
3. Organise Your Time.
Anyone who has every tried to keep a to-do list knows the frustration of not being able to get everything on the list done. I know that feeling.
The thing I have learned is that I cannot just put something on my to-do list, I need to schedule time to do it. For example, I cannot just write down, “Prepare sermon.” I must schedule time to actually prepare the sermon. Because sermon preparation is hard work, I am probably not just going to wake up one morning and “happen to” spend four hours reading, researching, writing, and studying.
If I am going to do the important things and not just the urgent, if I am going to control my day instead of letting my day control me, then I need to plan out my life well in advance. I need to schedule the most important things, leaving margin in my schedule for unexpected interruptions. I then need to rework my schedule as I get off track or things change, and each night before I go to bed I need to plan out the following day, giving a time frame to each task. If I fail to plan my day, then I am planning to fail.
Let me illustrate how I should have followed my own advice:
Several days ago, I had a day off, but I still wanted to accomplish certain things. Without really scheduling my day, I just had several items on a to-do list. The first one I came to was, “Add page to website about mission trip.”
So, I began working on my webpage. But instead of simply adding the page, I realised that everything on my webpage needed updated and reorganising. So, I then spent the next few hours updating the webpage and never got around to my original task.
I finished the day with an updated webpage but with no task on my list fully completed. I felt upset, unfulfilled, and frustrated. The reason: I did not set a time frames for each important task!
I hope you can see how essential this is, because I think we all have a tendency to take longer on things than we should, get sidetracked, and procrastinate on the more important but often more difficult tasks.
4. Organise as a Habit.
Organisation is a something that we must continue to strive for in a chaotic, disordered, and imperfect world. Life is messy and there are all kinds of challenges that will seek to knock us off course. The key is to just keep working at it. Don’t put tasks over people. Don’t get obssessed. But realise that time spent in getting and staying organised is not wasted. Getting rid of the clutter is an investment in the opportunities God may one day give you. It is about getting ready so that you move when the chance comes. Make organisation a priority, and it will become a habit that pays big dividends.
Below are just a few resources and tools I have used to help me get organised:
- Ordering Your Private World by George MacDonald
- Dropbox for syncing, backing up, and accessing computer files easily
- Google Calendar for planning your week
- Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 for scanning and digitizing your files
- Staying Organised and on Top of Your To Do List for helping you manage your to do lists
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas to add, please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you.