10 Tips for Helping You Complete Your To-Do List

Is the sheer volume of church work on your hands causing you stress? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, writing a to-do list is essential. But how can you make sure you actually get stuff done? Writing a list is just step one. Actually doing it is (the much harder) step two.

Chris Holland
June 15, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

When working in the church, timetables can get overloaded in seconds. Church leaders have countless things to remember and obligations to fulfill, so it's no wonder a few things get forgotten or deprioritized.

If you’re feeling frustrated with your endless to-do list or are just searching for tips on being organized, keep reading for our top ten tips. 

1. Set a Weekly To-Do List

Dedicate some time each week to work out your to-do list for the week to come, and follow it like a ritual. Humans are incredibly habitual, and carving time out of your Sunday night to plan the week ahead will do wonders for your peace of mind and the ease of your time management.

2. Break it Down Again

A weekly to-do list may seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into bite-sized daily chunks will make each task palatable. Find smaller tasks within your larger goals and slot them into your weekly schedule. When we subconsciously find the idea of a task overwhelming, our brain can push us to ignore it and waste time procrastinating instead.

3. Color-Code for Priority

How to be organized at work depends on you, so having a visual planner with a color code system could be highly beneficial. If you’re running low on time with your day and absolutely need to cancel something, it’s easy to see what to rearrange. If the traffic light system causes you stress, color code between the type of task (e.g., orange for kids’ ministry).

4. Alternate Task Difficulty

If you think the traffic light system might just encourage you to keep postponing tasks, ditch the color-coding scheme. Instead, why not alternate between difficult and easy jobs on your list? This helps you feel like you have had a mini-break throughout the day and keeps you focused on the task at hand. Trying to do high-intensity activities for extended periods will cause burnout.

5. Plan the Hardest First

Are you the kind of person who needs to get the challenge out of the way? Hardest first is the method of planning for you. Research suggests that those who start their day with the most difficult task are more productive than those who start easy and work their way up. So smash out the important work that's weighing on your mind the second you get to the ministry.

6. Dedicate Free Time

Have you fallen into the trap of writing to-do lists but never actually dedicating time to completing those tasks? Doing this creates a vicious cycle of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and ultimately low morale. If you know you will be busy training new volunteers all day, don’t fill your to-do list with other unrelated tasks. Focus on one thing at a time, and don’t overload yourself.

7. Task-Based Rewards

Many people choose times on the clock to take their breaks or reward themselves for working hard. But the problem with this is that it values unproductive work as highly as productive work. Instead, reward yourself after completing a certain number of tasks. You could even plan it into your daily schedule if you have flexibility (e.g., have lunch after completing XYZ, not at 1 p.m.).

8. Purge Your List Often

How to get things done? Be realistic. Often, we keep transferring what we didn’t complete to next week’s list until redundant tasks feel like they are weighing us down. Purge or prune your list regularly, and assess whether or not it has a place there anymore. It's not a failure to simply delete it and move on.

9. Know When to Reassign

If an impossibly difficult task has been haunting your list for months, take a step back and consider whether or not it is actually within your means to complete it. It may require skills that you don’t have, causing your subconscious to dodge it. In cases like these, know when to reassign. It can do more bad than good to take on a task you are not suited for. Call in backup instead. 

10. Wake Up Earlier

Give yourself time in the morning to build momentum and see how your productivity levels transform. People who drag themselves out of bed at 10 a.m. in a panic to start work don’t have any time to mentally prepare themselves to start the day ahead, while those who rise early can make the most of the productive hours of the day. In most cases, the early bird really does catch the worm.

While the answer seems simple on the surface, the question of "how to get stuff done" is complex. It depends a lot on the type of person you are, your role in the church, and whether or not you have family obligations to fulfill. Just remember, when you write a to-do list, you have to complete the to-do too. 

If you fall into an unhealthy habit of self-sabotaging and ignoring your lists, then your brain already knows you won’t complete them. Stick to your word, and start small if you need to get back into the swing of things. If you are feeling hard on yourself, write a "have done" list instead to encourage you to be positive and recognize your daily accomplishments.

Get Weekly Ministry Insights In Your Inbox

* indicates required

Don't forget to share this post!