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How to focus and simplify your workload

Sept. 22, 2017 | by Gerry Lewis

If you're anything like me, you get more requests to do things than you can possibly honor. If you tried to do them all, you would be constantly hopping from one item to the next—all on other people’s agendas—constantly pushing your own life to the back burner, hoping for time to catch up.

Oh, that’s not a hypothetical scenario? You really are experiencing that? I have good news for you (and me). It is possible to focus and simplify our lives. Please note: I said possible not easy.

This list is compiled from several sources, and usually presented in the context of managing email. However, it is an effective way of responding to requests that come in any format.

1. Do it. If the request is something that you can do right now and you can do it in two minutes or less, then do it and get it done. Some things really are that simple and it keeps all those little requests from turning into a long list. The two-minute rule is from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity.

2. Defer it. If you are the right one to do it, but you can’t do it right now, then schedule the action. Put a deadline on your calendar and schedule the time necessary to work on it. I mean put the work time on your calendar and treat it like an appointment with your most important contact. Defer is not ignore or procrastinate. Only things that get scheduled get done.

3. Delegate it. The fact that you could do it doesn’t mean that you are the one that should do it.  If there is someone else who could or should do it, then delegate without guilt.  There is nothing wrong with saying, “I’m not the best person to do that, but here’s a name of someone who might be able to help you out.”

4. Delete it. Some requests do not require action or response. You are not obligated to return calls or emails to people you don’t know.  You are not even obligated to return emails from people you do know if the email has gone out to a long list. “Delete” is my favorite button on my keyboard.

5. Designate it. Some things don’t require an immediate response and don’t have a fixed date, but there is information that would be handy for future use. Create a filing system, either electronically for those requests that come via computer, or a notepad and file folder for those requests that come in other ways.  You want it to be easy to access. (Searching through 3000 old messages in your inbox is not a good way to do that). Then put a date on your calendar every six months to spend 30 minutes looking through your file to see what needs to be kept, deleted, or done.

Remember, I didn’t say this was easy, but I’m convinced that one of the biggest frustrations most of us experience results from the fact that our lives are just too cluttered with somedays and maybes. Jesus said, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’”(Matthew 5:37)

Your life—the one God gave you—matters to God. Live it wisely.

Photo source: istock


Gerry Lewis

Dr. Gerry Lewis serves as Executive Director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur, Texas. He is also Founder and CEO of YLM Resources, which includes Next Step Coach-Sulting and Life Matters Publications. He is also an author of four books, including Why “Bible Study” Doesn't Work. He and his wife live in Azle, Texas and have two grown children and three (so far) grandchildren. His weekly Life Matters blog and Your Church Matters podcast can be found at drgerrylewis.com.



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