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Maximization: The church and its ministers and ministries operate at optimal levels of effectiveness and efficiency

How I Improved My Prioritization Skills

Priority File Shows Deadline Rush Immediate Delivery

Do you ever become so overwhelmed with your “to do” list that you become paralyzed?

Most of us in the ministry are prone to take on more responsibility than we should. Unable to say no we routinely squeeze one more commitment into already packed schedules.

With numerous bases to touch every day, it is common to race through the day, struggling to meet expectations.

According to Time Management.com, “to prioritize effectively you need to recognize what is important, as well as to see the difference between urgent and important.”

Why I Failed At Prioritization

After years of living in the urgent I discovered the main reason I failed at prioritization.

I had no language or system for classifying my daily to do list, the ministries I was responsible for or the resources I had to allocate.

Application: The Priority Pyramid

The Priority Pyramid is both a language and a system for classifying activities, initiatives and budgets into three priority levels: Essential To Do, Nonessential To Do, and Optional To Do.

The pyramid is broken into three levels of prioritization.

The lowest, largest and foundational level represents your Essential items, the middle and smaller level your Nonessential items and the top and smallest level your Optional items.

What Are My “Essential To Do’s”?

The specific activities, initiatives and budget items that make up my “Essential To Do’s” are absolutely necessary for meeting my personal and the church’s mission, vision, objectives and goals.

These are mission critical items required for personal and ministry success and survival.

These are the items I tackle first each day and take up approximately 60% of my daily schedule.

What Are My “Nonessential To Do’s”?

The specific activities, initiatives and budget items that make up my “Nonessential To Do’s” can be undertaken if the “Essential To Do’s” are under control.

These are not necessary to achieving my or the church’s objectives, at least in the short term.

These may ultimately help me reach my objectives but they can be deferred and at any given time may include such things as problem solving, self-development and future planning.

I allocate approximately 30% of my time to these activities.

I have found that if left unaddressed most of my “Nonessential To Do’s” eventually move to my “Essential To Do” list.

What Are My “Optional To Do’s”?

The specific activities, initiatives and budgets that make up my “Optional to Do’s” can be undertaken only if the “Essential To Do’s” and “Nonessential To Do’s” are under control.

Typically there is no significant payoff for these items though they may have a “fun” factor to them and may “add value” to what I am doing.

They can be left alone indefinitely because they don’t significantly help me reach my personal or church objectives.

I have found it is important to devote at least 10% of my work day to these activities, if for no other reason than personal enjoyment and mental health.

I have discovered that to avoid becoming overwhelmed by family, church and personal obligations, a system of prioritization like this goes a long way.

Click here for a Priority Pyramid template to jump start your prioritization.

Action: Your percentage allocation may vary but give this prioritization system a try and let me know if you find it helpful.


Posted on April 28, 2014
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Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5