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

The Time Crunch Process – Four Steps To Cope With Overload

Every church I visit, it seems that ministers keep getting busier. The work backs up, quality goes down and stress increases. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. When faced with an overload situation people try to cope in a variety of ways, some that are healthy and some that are not.

Causes of the Time Crunch Problem

Because we are all faced with the dilemma of too many tasks and too little time, it is important to understand the source of our time crunch problem.

  1. Need for achievement. Many ministers are fueled by ambition, fear of failure and a need to accomplish as much as possible. Eventually this will lead to overload and a time crunch problem.
  2. Additional responsibilities. Wearing multiple hats is a way of life on most church staffs. If you are competent then you will be asked to take on even more responsibilities. And, with constricting personnel budgets, you may be asked to take on the duties of a position that is being eliminated. At some point though incremental add-ons will create a time crunch problem.
  3. Peak-Loading. Each staff position has those unique, yet predictable, times of the year where more productivity is required. This means you have less time for other, sometimes required, activities.
  4. Fire Fighting. Problem solving is a daily activity of most ministers. Taking the necessary steps to prevent problems from occurring in the first place are usually forgotten when we are too busy. The longer we neglect taking steps to prevent potential problems, the more likely they are to occur, and result in a time crunch problem.
  5. Growth. Growth can take on many forms, church growth, ministry growth, staff growth, and personal growth, any of which can cause existing workloads to increase resulting in a time crunch problem.

The Time Crunch Process

The Time Crunch Process is a simple step by step approach you can implement when you have too little time to effectively complete your tasks and responsibilities.

Step 1: Invest More Time

The first step in addressing the need for more time is to actually spend more time on your responsibilities. Spending more time on your responsibilities may include coming in early and/or staying late, taking a working lunch, working on your day off, or taking work home with you.

This approach is only practical for temporary, or peak-loading, times in your schedule. Every minister has seasons in ministry where extra work hours are required. But, if the need to work more hours becomes a permanent pattern then spending more time on the job is not the healthy answer. In this case, the second step in the Time Crunch Process, Reduce Workload, should be considered.

Step 2: Reduce Workload

In this step you want to focus on WHAT you are doing, to ensure that you are doing the right things. Reducing your workload means cutting out your lower priority job duties, assigned tasks, or responsibilities.

Under close examination you may find that the activity doesn’t need to be done at all or may be postponed to a later time. Work elimination is a powerful time management exercise and can improve your effectiveness as you focus on higher priority activities, tasks and initiatives.

Step 3: Become More Efficient

In this step you want to improve on HOW you do your work by becoming more efficient. This usually involves improving the tools, processes and systems you use for accomplishing tasks so they take less time to complete. Time Management software applications, Daily Planners and spreadsheets are typical examples.

If investing more time, reducing workload and becoming more efficient still doesn’t solve your time crunch problem, your only other option is to delegate.

Step 4: Delegate

Before you delegate you will want to answer three questions:

  1. What is it that I do? You can’t delegate what you can’t define, so the first step to effective delegation is to develop a list of all that you do.
  2. Why do I do what I do? For each item on your job duties list you must ask “why do I do it?” If you are the only one that can do it, delegation may not be an option. But, if you are performing a job duty that someone else could do, then delegation is an option to consider and you should ask question number 3.
  3. Who else can do it? First, you are looking for someone who already has the competency and desire to do the work. This could be a fellow employee, a volunteer, a family member or temp staff. If you can’t locate anyone to do the job, then identify someone who might be trained to do it. In delegation you want to take care to not create a time crunch problem for those you delegate to.

Avoiding the Time Crunch Problem

The following activities are designed to minimize the occurrence of a time crunch problem.

Responsibility Analysis. Before assuming any new responsibility make certain that the job really needs to be done and that you are the best person to do it.

Start at Zero. Periodically, throw your job description in the trash can and start with a clean piece of paper. Use this as an opportunity to offload responsibilities.

Project Growth. Monitoring ministry and church growth gives you the opportunity to plan ahead and develop staffing models and ways to handle the additional responsibilities that come with organizational growth.

Use Prioritization Tools. Utilizing prioritization tools and exercises will allow you to examine each existing and new responsibility and rank them according to importance.


Posted on September 13, 2016

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