What is the most strategic day of your week? Do you have one? Do you know why it is the most strategic? What is the most important thing you do on that day? Church administrative work? Sermon preparation? Rest? Preventing burnout? Family time?
As a pastor, I doubt that your most strategic day is Sunday. Sunday might be the most urgent, or the most crucial, but I doubt it is the most strategic.
My most strategic day is Tuesday. Here’s why:
1. On my most strategic day, I block out time for Quadrant 2 activities.
If you haven’t read my post on Urgent Vs. Important, you should check it out so you’ll know what I mean by Quadrant 2. The short version is this: Quadrant 1 is doing important things in crisis. Quadrant 2 is doing important things in a planned way.
2. On my most strategic day, I prep for sermons.
You only have so much creative energy for one day. Think of it as a reservoir that fills slowly, and empties more quickly. So on Tuesday, sermon prep is where I place my creative energies. I create space in my life. I use this space to think and plan.
The reason Tuesday is strategic is because it keeps one of my core tasks (sermon prep) from becoming a crisis task. Tuesday prep keeps me from getting to Saturday or Sunday and having to go into full “Sermon Prep Crisis Mode.” In crisis mode, you may be productive, but you will not be as creative or as thorough.
3. On my most strategic day, I accept few interruptions.
You have to take responsibility for interruptions that you allow. I know, some cannot be helped. But many can be prevented. There are ways to avoid being interrupted, even if it means a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and putting your phone on silent or airplane mode.
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t be completely inaccessible. But if you don’t have any time that you’re not accessible, I can guarantee you that you’re not as strategic and productive as you should be!
If you can’t bring yourself to not answer the phone, then bring yourself to turn off the possibility of people calling you. The world will not end.
4. On my most strategic day, I leave the office.
This is one way I reject interruptions. People know where to find me when I’m in the office. Sometimes, like Jesus, I need to not be found! (See Mark 1:37) But there’s another reason that I leave the office:
I sometimes find it hard to focus there.
Confession time: My office is – messy. (I have improved, and I hope to completely conquer this in the next year or so.) But like me, you may have to leave the office to get some kinds of high-value work accomplished.
Clutter physically can result in clutter mentally, and doesn’t lend itself to clear, uninterrupted thinking. Research says when your focus is broken, it takes you a period of time to get back into flow, to producing as efficiently as you were before. So, when I’m in the office, and my eyes stray to the left and see the pile of paperwork I’ve GOT to work through, it is frustrating and demotivating.
So I leave. Some very productive people recommend using the same place each time, but currently I don’t. Currently, I go to:
- The library, and use one of the study tables in the back.
- Starbucks (or Cafe Bella)
- Jack In the Box (iced mocha… mmm)
There is something about these places, since I’ve been so many times, that tends to put me “in the groove” where I can get more done. It’s a small mental trigger, but it can be an effective one.