How to...

How to: manage your time


This resource is part of a “how to” series that was designed to assist youth ministers in their ministry to young people. We have conducted interviews with experienced youth workers on a variety of subjects. These interviews can be found here. The interviews are short (each interview is less then 12mins in length), and practical. Each interview is accompanied by a written contribution. The written contributions are not long in length – they are easy to read and designed in such a way that busy youth ministers can quickly pick up important and useful tips on a range of practical topics. We hope you enjoy these resources.

Written contributors: Dion Fasi, Simon Greening, Ashleigh Stewart. Edited by Simon Greening.

Watch the Interviews

How to Manage your time – Part 1

How to Manage your time – Part 2

Outputs or Outcomes

Outputs are primarily defined in relation to the time that you have ‘control’ over. Drawing on an analogy from the plant world, examples of outputs for a gardener would include watering plants, sowing seed, or storing plants in the right location. The gardener does not have full control over the plant growing process. However, the gardener can control some aspects of the plant growing process. Outputs are objective and measurable. The spiritual growth process in someone’s life is similar to the plant growing process (see 1 Corinthians 3).

As the youth-worker you have a role in the process of spiritual growth in a young persons’ life, just like the gardener has a role in the plant growth process. The role you play relates to outputs, the role God plays relates to outcomes. Don’t get these two ideas confused.

Therefore, you have to decide what outputs will facilitate spiritual growth in the lives of young people that you work with. The outputs you decide on will determine where you primarily spend your time. An output could be relational, program focused, or event orientated. This is not an exhaustive list.

The type of outputs selected will depend on the following:

  1. The personality/strengths/gifts of the youth minister
  2. The philosophy of the Church/youth ministry
  3. Normally the youth minister will be required to work on a number of different outputs

Sitting down with your Vicar

Sit down with your Vicar and clarify the expectations he/she has of you. The question to decide is what outputs are you expected to deliver on.

Outputs can be measured objectively – for example, to run x amount of events during the year. In contrast, outcomes are primarily subjective – for example, spiritual transformation, character development, discipleship. Measuring outcomes is nearly impossible: firstly, because the youth minister has little control over individual spiritual transformation; secondly, outward signs of ‘spiritual growth’ are not always good markers. For these reasons a youth minister should be reviewed on outputs not outcomes. Reviewing performance based on subjective criteria, for example “is the youth group growing”, are “young people growing spiritually”, in my opinion, is not helpful.

Decide with your Vicar what the outputs will be

Once the discussion has taken place with your Vicar regarding the outputs and goals, you can then begin to organize your time so as to meet those outputs agreed upon. Time management is about scheduling time to achieve the goals which will ultimately fulfil the agreed output. Outputs act as a filter which can help you decide what not to do.

To be, or not to be, in the office

Use ‘non-contact’ or ‘office’ time wisely.

Firstly, use ‘energy bursts’ constructively. At some point in the day we have a burst of energy. Bill Hybels (Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, Chicago) has said that it is a good idea to know at what point of the day you have energy bursts. During those ‘energy bursts’ spend your time tackling the hard important tasks. For example, I find that sermon preparation requires substantial time. I know that my energy bursts occur early in the morning. Therefore, before I open email and make phone-calls, I put time into sermon preparation. Then after lunch, when my energy levels are low, I send emails or make phone-calls.

Secondly, have a think about whether a ‘shift’ approach to time management might be more helpful for you. I like this option. It is not a bad idea to treat a youth minister’s diary as something akin to a shift-work roster. Example shift times could be an AM shift: 8.30pm – 5pm or a PM shift: 2.30pm – 11pm. So each day you would do either a AM or PM shift. If you communicate this with your Vicar, and your Vicar knows for example that on Wednesdays you do a PM shift (maybe because you have youth-group on Wednesday nights), then you would not be expected at Church until 2.30pm.

Finally, keep these points in mind:

  • Is your Vicar/or church office staff aware of your weekly schedule?
  • Have you established expected outputs?
  • Are you using your ‘non-contact’ time wisely?
  • Is your current weekly schedule manageable?
  • Are the outputs established achievable?

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