As a busy church leader, there are countless distractions vying for your time. And making it harder is that these distractions are often good things — but often not the things that you were called to do.
Your Guide to a Purpose-Driven Work Week
The reality is that living out your God-given purpose starts with maintaining focus.
This guide covers everything from top time-wasters to best practices so you can start 10X-ing your productivity and pursuing each week with purpose!
WHAT IS THIS PRODUCTIVITY YOU SPEAK OF?
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
– Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
No matter how many people you have on staff at your church, there’s only so much you can accomplish in a day, right? Your church exists to serve your community. You and your staff have a mission to reach as many people as you can in your community (and thanks to technology, even beyond your community).
Productivity is essential to accomplishing your mission. It is how staff – whether in-office, remote or hybrid – are assessed as to their efficiency in the performance of their jobs. It is a particularly important consideration for churches as most of an organization’s success relies directly upon the productivity of its workforce. Yes, even churches need to consider their staff’s productivity.
How this is evaluated will depend upon the job requirements, but generally it’s based on the output of the employee within a specified period of time. Often, an employee’s productivity is evaluated based on a related average of employees performing similar work.
Simply put, productivity increases the overall efficiency of an organization. Typically, this reflects that all resources are being leveraged for optimum performance levels. Increases in output will result in lower overhead. Conversely, when productivity is overlooked, the result is often a lack of team morale and wasted time and money.
What does this mean for your church?
Today’s work environment is substantially different than it was just a year ago – and, for many, it shows no signs of returning to ‘how things have always been done.’
So now, more than ever, productivity is measured by results, whenever and wherever the work happens. Productivity can soar for a hybrid workforce – the key, then, is for leaders to learn how to equip their team to maximize their productivity to increase results. This then begs the question: How and where do we start in order to establish productivity?
The first place to look is right under your nose.
WHAT YOUR DESK SAYS ABOUT YOUR STATE OF MIND
We all want to feel like we have everything together – that we know what our personal and professional goals are while leveraging to-do lists, project management software, and other organizational applications to help keep us on track.
But how many of us organize our desks, cars, offices, and more like we do our task lists? Dave Ramsey once spoke on this. He said, “Your physical desktop represents the organizational condition of your mind and maybe even indicates the organizational condition of your whole company.”
Having read that – and likely having nervously assessed your desk as you did – what message do you think your desk conveys? Because every day in business, we’re inundated by incoming projects and tasks and if we’re not good at delegating and organizing, it can be overwhelming – and we may lose control of our workspace.
Most simply put, your desk represents your state of my mind. Maybe you’re running to tasks and projects reactively, instead of being intentional and proactive about processes and long-term project goal completion. Granted, there are certain things you likely need at your desk: a computer, headphones, pen and paper. What you decidedly don’t need? A hat, 10 magazines, a stack of bills, car keys, a pocket knife, a cold cup of day-old coffee, a Starbucks napkin, a JBL bluetooth speaker, a kitchen towel, the Zappos Culture Book, Dial hand sanitizer, a remote control, and four books.
All entirely hypothetical items, of course. We digress … But if, by chance, you have any, all or some of those items cluttering your brain, err, desk, it’s time to make a clean sweep.
- Dedicate five minutes at the end of each day to cleaning your desk
- Don’t leave any dishes, cups or wrappers over night
- Leave only essential items out
- Keep a planner accessible
- Have – and use – trash and recycling bins
- Keep it simple
- Put away everything when you’re done using it
- Use a whiteboard
- And last – but certainly not least – delegate when needed
Phew! Now that some of the housekeeping is done, let’s find some other productivity black holes.
HOW YOU’RE WASTING YOUR DAY
Whether you lead a team of high performers or you’re the high-performer in question, there’s a pretty good chance you’re spending too much time on activities that are less than the best use of your time.
Carey Nieuwhof shares productivity goals that might actually be slowing you down. He says, “No matter how smart or capable you may be, every leader only gets 24 hours each day.” So it comes down to using your time wisely and proactively.
We’ve seen successful leaders do specific things – in combination with the services of a virtual executive assistant – to completely change the way people spend their days and set their organizations on a path for increased productivity and results.
What do these leaders do?
- They use email templates. Work with your assistant to figure out the most common requests you’re getting via email, and craft email templates your assistant can send on your behalf. Some of the most important responses will be the ones that decline a request for your time and involvement in something that isn’t the best use of your resources. A well-worded response in an email template, and an in-depth discussion with your virtual assistant about what requests you want to accept, will keep you from spending hours involved in a project that you didn’t really need to be a part of in the first place.
- They have an email management strategy. Leaders who optimize their workdays have a strategy for managing their email.
Hint: It’s not monitoring email all day, every day.
Effective leaders batch their email and check their inboxes two to four times a day, and leaders who’ve handed off their email management to an assistant report that it’s revolutionized their workdays.
- They write playbooks. Leaders shouldn’t spend their time writing step-by-step instructional manuals, but if there’s an activity you find yourself doing more than three times and it’s not something that only you can do – like strategic planning, sermon preparation , and similar – then someone else should do it. Spend some time documenting how you do those things and hand that document – and the responsibility for results – to someone else.
Now, take a deep breath because this next topic will go against your instincts. We’re going to discuss some of the dangers of multitasking. Breathe … just breathe.
WHAT EXACTLY IS KEEPING YOU FROM BEING PRODUCTIVE?
Dangers of Multitasking
‘Uh, excuse me. Danger? Multitasking? Isn’t that what we’ve been told to do to be more productive, to be more efficient?’ you – understandably – counter.
Fair. We have been indoctrinated with the belief that multitasking is the only ‘-tasking.’ But multitasking may cause more harm than good – especially if you’re bad at it.
Multitasking requires focus – more specifically the ability to focus on the execution of multiple things – and we’re just not wired to do that. Consider the cognitive science findings of David Meyer, Director of the Brain, Cognition, & Action Library at the University of Michigan:
- “You can’t do two cognitively complicated tasks at once.”
- “Multitasking is … very often highly inefficient and could be dangerous to your health.”
- “Even the most adept multi-tasker will crash and burn trying to resolve simultaneous conflicting demands.”
- “Too much access to the cerebral grid shuts down critical thinking.”
- “The conflicts triggered by incessant multitasking can set off chronic stress and slow you down.”
- “If you’re disciplined enough, you can map out the usage of your time in a way that minimizes your exposure to interruptions.”
What Should Be On Your Zero-tolerance List
What are the things you need to stop doing so you can devote more time and focus to things you really want to focus on? Here’s a possible list:
It’s easy to lose yourself and your daily momentum with things that take you off focus. So put them where they belong: your Zero Tolerance List.
So now that you know some of the things you should stop doing, let’s move right along to how you can start accomplishing more.
Instant Messaging / Texting
Streaming Services like Netflix
Games like Candy Crush
Instantaneous email replies
Reading/watching news sites
Badges or notifications on your phone
5 STEPS TO START GETTING STUFF DONE
Executive Pastors, team leaders, and individual contributors of churches of every size and shape can benefit from what we’re about to tell you …
If you want to complete tasks in a relatively short period of time, there’s an easy way. Here’s how.
PRACTICAL TIPS TO SAVE YOU TIME
At BELAY, we work with organizations of all sizes across the U.S. and Canada and see countless people who could be better at time management. Over the years, we have seen a lot of interesting habits and decisions that waste their time and kill their productivity.
Here are four tips we share with new clients to save them valuable time.
Protecting your time is not rocket science. It’s about the willingness to let others help you.
It’s about you trusting someone to come alongside you and help you protect your time as a leader. If you do these four things, your capacity and results will increase. We’re saving you time, cleaning your space and crushing your beliefs about multitasking, and you’re still with us – that’s fantastic!
Now, a question. Are you the type of person who feels it’s easier and faster to do things yourself? If so, let’s discuss delegation …
I KNOW I NEED TO DELEGATE: SHOULD I OUTSOURCE OR DO IT MYSELF?
DIY or DFY
At some point, when a high-performing leader – maybe like you since you’re reading this – is excelling, they come to a place where productivity reaches a crossroads: The intersection of ‘Do It Myself’ and ‘Done For Me.’
The former protects your money, the latter protects your time.So, what will you protect? Many high-capacity go-getters can just task away without needing help. They blow through tasks, and they think it would take them longer to teach than just to do it themselves.
The fallacy in this notion is that when you sum up the time of the task(s) over an extended period of time, it ends up being way more time than it would take to train someone qualified to do it for you.
Having someone help you do things, execute tasks, and get a job done is not a luxury. It is just plain smart. Chances are, they can do the job better than you, quicker than you, and better than you have done it all along. Your pride – not your budget – prevents you from yielding up tasks so you can focus on only what you can do. To put it in the clearest perspective, money is fluid; it comes and goes. But your time? Time is finite. Precious. Protect it at all costs. Always choose to protect your time.
We’ve thrown a lot of information at you, but you’re doing awesome!
You’ve cleared your desk, learned some tasks to save you time and gotten some great resources to help you delegate. Thing is, tools can help you be more productive with your teams, too.
5 ESSENTIAL COLLABORATION TOOLS
Research has shown that virtual teams are just as, if not more, productive than their in-office counterparts.
And good thing because today’s work environment is substantially different than it was just a year ago – and, for many, it shows no signs of returning to ‘how things have always been done.’
So whether your workforce works from home or in a brick-and-mortar office – or both – now, more than ever, the tools with which we equip our teams in order to maximize their collaboration prove paramount.
Inarguably, there is a slew of novel technologies developed to support this endeavour. Overwhelmingly so, in fact.
Here are the top five virtual collaboration tools we use:
There’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction. But video conferencing applications like Zoom are allowing virtual teams to maintain intimacy from anywhere on Earth. Zoom also allows meeting participants to share presentations, screens, and other content in real-time. Another of Zoom’s extra perks is the ability to send official email invites to clients for a more professional appearance.
There’s a ton of document collaboration tools out there, but Google Docs remains the gold standard. It’s a streamlined, no-nonsense platform that allows team members to work on a document together from anywhere. Docs also provides ample cloud space in Google Drive to share and exchange files. And did we mention it’s free?
Slack claims to be ‘ … a collaboration hub that connects your organization – all the pieces and the people – so you can get things done.’ And we’re here to corroborate those claims.
With Slack, you can collaborate online – just as you would in person – by bringing the right people and information together in a one-stop shop where you can communicate efficiently, stay connected, and get things done – faster. Fast, efficient and communicative? That’s (productivity) music to our ears.
Asana is a cloud-based software that facilitates colleagues within an organization to track and manage the progress of projects. Simply put, tasks are created to monitor individual contributions to a larger, collaborative project.
Teams can add tasks, assign them to colleagues, set due dates, comment, and share relevant documents while notifications on the status of each task – and their approaching deadlines – are sent to your inbox.
Best of all? It’s customizable to the way you want to work. Want to work in a way that is driven by conversations? Asana can do that. Prefer to work in a way that’s driven by tasks? Asana’s got you covered, too, so every team has the opportunity to work in a way that is comfortable for them.
Grasshopper is a small-business phone service, designed to work on top of your existing landline or mobile service. Like many virtual phone systems, Grasshopper offers a mobile app that lets you make and receive calls from your business number—even when using your personal mobile devices.
There are literally hundreds of websites, platforms, and applications designed to help virtual teams connect and collaborate. We couldn’t possibly cover all the ones we think are worthwhile, but these five are a great place to start. Another thing to keep in mind is that which tools are right for you will depend on your organization’s unique needs. For tech-related companies, for example, coding collaboration applications like Github are indispensable.
But whatever your business, it’s bound to benefit from some form of virtual collaboration tool. Remember: Don’t work harder when you can work smarter! We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t point out that all of these changes we’re proposing might impact your company culture. So how exactly do you delegate and be more productive without messing up the status quo you have going on in the office?
HOW TO KEEP COMPANY CULTURE HEALTHY WHILE INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY?
Healthy Growing & Culture
If you’re finding that there’s more work to do than there are hours in the day, it might be time to increase your headcount. It’s normal to feel apprehensive when you’ve grown faster than you anticipated or to feel unprepared for leading a hybrid or dispersed staff.
We want to help alleviate some of your concerns by giving you a few tips for how the landscape has changed in the workplace.
Results Over Availability
Building your church from a need in the community to operating long-term success is no easy task. While growth is always the goal, growing too quickly can lead to your inability to keep up with all the needs, but grow too slowly and you might not make payroll. As we mentioned, today’s new work landscape is substantially different than it was even a year ago.
Dispersed teams notwithstanding, benefits such as in-house daycare, paid paternity leave, flex-time, working remotely and hired contractors are the new-new. Gone are the days when an employee clocked in at 9 a.m. and clocked out at 5 p.m. We’ve become a society where people’s jobs often bleed over into their personal lives.
Where once there were endless rows of cubicled employees typing away at their desks all day, now if an employee is at their desk even 50 percent of the day, it’s unusual.
Know why? Because at long last, organizations are realizing that productivity no longer needs to be measured by how long you sat at your desk – or if you came into the office at all; it’s really about their results.
Know why? Because at long last, organizations are realizing that productivity no longer needs to be measured by how long you sat at your desk – or if you came into the office at all; it’s really about their results.
Tech For The Win
Technology has revealed opportunities for organizations to truly show how much they value and respect their team’s needs. Experts have seen impressive increases in productivity when workers are given flex-time and remote access.
According to a ConnectSolutions Study, “Seventy-seven percent of remote workers get more done in fewer hours thanks to fewer distractions like meetings, conversations, and noisy coworkers.”
It allows staff to work at the times they are most productive and an environment in which they are most comfortable. Individual or team check-ins can be done with the latest video, phone or messaging technology and apps. Given the chance to meet the needs of their life outside of the office, most team members become even more invested in the company that places such value on their personal needs. This is, however, contingent upon the individual, their personal discipline and the policies stipulated by the employer.
Additionally, it cuts expenses for the church who has a dispersed workforce. People working remotely don’t require as much office space, equipment, heating/cooling, electricity and certain types of insurance. Our friends at Vanderbloemen agree: “The less paper shuffling your team has to do, the more creative and productive they can be.”
By giving employees the freedom to work remotely, productivity increases, expenses decrease and you’ll have a much healthier team to work with.
It’s Not Flying Cars, But This Is The New Reality
As you grow in numbers, approach your plans for scaling your workforce by thinking of what you want your culture to be five years down the road.
Be careful to not get stuck in the past with how you approach your team and their needs. Stay on top of the new trends in technology and employee benefits. Do your best to bring new employees into the conversation and you will be rewarded with reminders of why you hired these amazing people to begin with.
A team that works and plays well together is your most profitable asset. And that’s a huge win for your church and community.
HOW CAN VIRTUAL SPECIALISTS HELP ME BE MORE PRODUCTIVE?
Many of our clients come to us because their organizations have outgrown their available time.
These leaders are finding themselves buried under all the details that go along with a successful church, and are in danger of drowning in those details.
Fortunately, that’s exactly why BELAY is here! Here are some ways our BELAY Virtual Assistant can help you manage your time more effectively.
A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT CAN:
Protect Your Calendar
With a BELAY Virtual Assistant, you no longer have to be the bad guy when it comes to saying “no” to appointments you really don’t have time for. By working with your assistant to establish what times are reserved for which projects, you’ll accomplish that much more. Your assistant can handle all the back-and-forth of scheduling necessary appointments, and help you remember that you’ve committed to that t-ball game/soccer clinic/violin lesson/date night at a time when someone else might want to schedule a meeting.
Manage Your Inbox
According to some estimates, workers spend more than six hours a day checking emails. Other studies show that it takes up 28 percent of an employee’s time. Virtual assistants shoulder the burden of email, acting as air traffic controllers of a pastor’s inbox. A Virtual Assistant can organize your inbox so you can better see, manage, and store everything, and will help streamline communication and create efficiency for you to guard your time and energy.
Push Projects Forward
Rather than spending hours of your week following up on conversations – have your BELAY Virtual Assistant do that for you. Your assistant can keep you moving towards deadlines, and do all the time-consuming follow-up with everyone involved so you can focus on what only you can do to focus on your church and community.
Deal With The Details
BELAY Assistants deal with thousands of details every day for our clients – seriously, thousands! Scheduling follow-up calls with teams and volunteers, tracking and emailing prayer requests to staff, manage ‘Pastor On-Call’ lists and communication, Confirming flights/hotels/car rentals, scheduling dentist appointments, recording mileage expenses, transcribing meeting notes, posting social media updates, proofreading documents, writing documentation, creating PowerPoints, updating project software or task management applications, and the list goes on. If you ever catch yourself wondering, “Why am I doing this task?”, that’s a task a BELAY Virtual Assistant can do for you.
Churches of all sizes are at risk of making bookkeeping mistakes.
Keeping the books and preventing blunders are a financial equalizer among organizations of all types. . But, do you have to be the one doing your books? No, a virtual bookkeeper can tackle the daily crunching of numbers leaving your team to focus on what only they can do.
A VIRTUAL BOOKKEEPER CAN:
Handle Your Bank Reconciliations
BELAY Bookkeepers love numbers. They choose to spend their day deep in your books looking for any potential problem that might be lurking as they reconcile your various accounts. Bookkeepers can serve as a strong spoke in the overall wheel of organizational financial accountability. They can initiate conversations about identified concerns, clarify and reinforce policies, help develop newer, better practices, and perform reviews of legacy data to spot gaps and opportunities.
Compile Tax Documents & Work With Your CPA
Let’s be honest, no one likes receiving a phone call from their CPA (sorry to any CPAs reading this). Their phone call usually ends with having to search for a missing document or reciept. Depending on how many times they find missing documents, you could spend more time than you should hunting paper. This is where having a dedicated bookkeeper can be a tremendous timesaver. Your bookkeeper will own this communication and provide any needed documents to your CPA in a timely fashion. Better yet – your bookkeeper will keep your books so organized your CPA doesn’t find any missing documents.
Deal With The Details
Though bookkeepers are not necessarily tax preparers and aren’t IRS-Certified Tax Preparers, through experience they may have developed an eye for applicable business deductions. These could include professional development classes, matched funds contributed to employees’ retirement savings accounts, home offices, hardware, supplies, repairs and more. This is one area where their know-how as finance generalists brings added value.
Keep Your Books In Tip-top Shape
Business owners, new and veteran alike, may inadvertently blur the lines between personal and business finances. They blend expenses, pay bills out of both accounts and build a case for writing off a personal discretionary expenditure as a business deduction. Bookkeepers can help keep small businesses and entrepreneurs on target, on task and more accountable. Plus, bookkeepers can recommend apps and software to maximize and segment expense tracking.
A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST CAN:
Develop A Social Strategy
As with most things on your to-do list, those you don’t enjoy or understand are often relegated to the way bottom – like a social strategy. However, it’s virtually impossible to gain traction in your social presence without proactive execution of a well thought out strategy. Your Social Media Strategist can create a social media plan upfront to ensure that all your social efforts support specific business goals.
Create Content Calendars
Your Social Media Strategist can schedule posts, planning out the upcoming weeks’ content to include any events to promote, holidays or other reminders. They can also gather resources for your content calendar from a variety of sources from web searches for industry news to interact with clients to get their updates. They mine content straight from other social profiles to reshare on your channels, work with the graphic design team or design corresponding graphics to material that was sourced, and edit any photography to match your brand.
You have to inspect what you expect, right? And you can’t do that without cold, hard data. Your Social Media Strategist can run a competitive analysis, measuring the success of your social media campaigns, and tracking and analyzing your results to provide effective solutions for content optimization by leveraging measurement tools to provide progress reports and mine insights for you.
These three service lines are great, but what if you need just a little more? Maybe some help with your website, perhaps?
ENTER: A BELAY Website Specialist.
So unless you’re a webmaster, we can confidently say that not outsourcing your site’s creation and maintenance is decidedly not the best use of your time. Those tasks are, inarguably, a productivity-killer. But listen. We get it – you can’t just take our word for it. We need to put our money where our mouth is.
We’re going to do exactly that! Once you’re done reading this success story, we’ll be ready and waiting for that call to get you set up with your very own BELAY Virtual Assistant, Virtual Bookkeeper, and Social Media Strategist.
WE CAN PROVE IT
Case Study: Brent Hofen
As the founder and lead pastor of Mission Church, Brent is a master of all trades. And hobbies. And interests.
He’s passionate about discipleship. He has devoted his life to making disciples who make disciples who make disciples. He loves to go outside the walls of a church building and pay it forward with generosity and acts of kindness.
Brent loves to disc golf, has a passion for music, and ‘an addiction to shoes’ – and he asks that we pray for him. He also loves photography, industrial design, and loose-leaf tea.
At home, you’ll find Brent making a tea latte and playing the piano. He loves spending time with his family and exploring the Pacific Northwest with family and friends. He’s traveled to South America, Japan, Russia, Kosovo, and Uganda, and has traveled to 49 of the 50 states. One day, Hawaii. One day.
Brent and his team are also well on their way to multiplying disciples out of disciples with a church in Bend, Redmond, Madras and Portland, Oregon, and online to help connect people’s stories to God’s purpose throughout the Northwest
So what Brent needed next was to multiply himself. So he reached out to BELAY.
Paired with BELAY VA Johanne, Brent has learned to lean into her help so he can better serve those God brings through his doors.
“I have [Johanne] go through my inbox, adding hours back to my week,” he shares. “She handles all meeting coordination directly on my calendar. And with involvement in my community and other boards that I serve, I have multiple in boxes to be reviewed – and she triages all things and puts only the critical in front of me.”
Then there’s the small matter of Brent’s big ideas.
“When I’m in the car, I use Voxer to download a list of things that are running through my brain,” he says. “[Johanne] then organizes the tasks on my task list or handles the items that she can. Having this headspace allows me to be present with my family, as well as think creatively on ideas.
“[She] also makes sure that I have the right number of meetings in a day so that I am not Zoom-meeting ‘fatigued’ that I can’t give my best.”
Brent can be all things to all people with the multiplying effect of a VA.
Still, he knows that other pastors are hesitant that a VA will make their staff and leadership feel they are less accessible.
“I say it is quite the contrary,” he says. “By having [Johanne] schedule meetings with my team and leadership, I can be fully present during the conversations. That time is blocked for them.
“In the past, they would just walk in my office and assume I am available and focused on what they are saying.
“But now, I feel I am winning at life! If you want to be able to multiply your leadership which in turn multiplies your ministry, you need someone to help you prioritize the many demands of your time!”
IT’S YOUR TURN
Keeping your church productive is no simple task – perhaps further complicated by the uncharted waters of a dispersed workforce – but hopefully, we’ve provided you with plenty of help on how to go about doing it.
For you to successfully lead the charge to maximizing productivity from wherever you work, you simply need to change the lens with which you view – and even measure – your productivity.
You’ve got this but if, at any point, you get stuck, we’re always here for you!