I am convinced that one of the most important discussions we can have as ministry teams is how we can raise the bar on our effectiveness - personally and corporately. This is not about working harder or longer but working smarter and with greater focus. It is easy for all of us to gravitate toward the comfortable rather than to stay focused on what is most important.
There are a number of questions that can help us reflect on ways we can raise the bar.
As I look at the coming week what is the single most important thing I need to do in order to move the ball down the court? That may sound simplistic but the truth is that getting the most strategic thing done in the course of a week is far more important than getting many non strategic things done.
Do I take time each month to prioritize my work and activities? One of the secrets of highly productive people is that they take the time to think about their upcoming month and prioritize their activities so that what is most important gets done and those things that are of lesser importance are done last. I do this with a Personal Retreat Day each month to think through my schedule and activities.
If there was one thing that would help me be more productive, what would it be? This can be as simple as scheduling the most important activities at the time when we are at our best, or blocking out time without interruption, email or phone calls. Answering this simple question - and acting on it - can make a significant difference in effectiveness.
Are there activities in my schedule that I could simply eliminate to free up time for more important things? We often accumulate activities and obligations that over time start to weigh us down when critical analysis would tell us that they are no longer critical to our work. Time is the one thing we can never get back so jettisoning those obligations that are not critical can help us move to the next level.
Are there activities that need to get done that can be done by others in order to free up my time for those things that only I can do? Often, there are activities that someone needs to do but that we don't need to do. On the other hand, there are some things we must do because we do them better than others. Delegating what we don't need to do frees us up to do those things that we really must do. A rule of thumb is that if someone else can do something 70% as well as I can, I should generally let it go.
Can I connect my activity with specific key results that I want to see from my work? Remember that there is a difference between activity and results. Often our activity gets in the way of focusing on the few key results that we want to see from our work. Making sure that our activity is the right activity to get to those results is a simple but profound principle.
Does my calendar reflect my priorities? Our calendars (how we spend our time) tell the real story of what our priorities are. Unfortunately there is often a disparity between what we would say our priorities are and how we actually use our time. Bringing our calendar into alignment with our priorities is a game changer.
Taking time to reflect on our activity, lives and work will almost always help us raise the bar on our effectiveness. Taking the time to slow down and think through what we are doing and how we are doing it can be truly freeing.