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Busy Isn't Productive: 5 Productivity Hacks to Accomplish More & Juggle Less

In a recent XPastor webinar, our Senior Marketing Manager Ryan Fitzgerald joined David Fletcher to discuss how to identify some of your roadblocks and explore strategies that harness — and maximize — productivity for your church.

And now, we’re sharing it with you.


God may grant us each the same hours every day, but no two people’s days look the same.

Unlike a business, your day-to-day operations go far beyond the brick-and-mortar of your church. You’re a community cornerstone, but providing that connection and outreach demands productivity.

But productivity isn’t just about task completion; it’s about optimizing all your resources.

If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed trying to expand the reach of your mission while keeping up with the demands of church leadership, it may be time for a productivity overhaul.

From weekly sermon prep to caring for church staff, managing budgets, launching capital campaigns, making payroll, and still having the energy to pour into family at home, it’s an understatement to say that pastors and church leaders carry a lot of weight and responsibilities.

In April of this year, a shocking 40% of pastors displayed a high risk of burnout, about a 400% increase since 2015, when that percentage hovered closer to 11%.

If you’re an executive pastor feeling overwhelmed, stretched too thin, and like you can barely keep your head above water, it’s time to (re)discover The Power of Productivity

Despite all of the stress that comes with leading a church, we’ve found helpful solutions to prevent burnout, achieve a manageable schedule and maintain a healthy relationship with productivity.

1. Learn how you work.

The first step to being more productive is identifying where, when and how you are productive.

Granted, this will be different for everybody. And it’s going to be different for the people that you lead as well as the person you work for.

Your pastor probably has totally different productivity rhythms and routines than you have. But identifying your where, when and how is really important.

If you are spending the majority of your time on tasks and responsibilities that drain you, you’re really never going to feel productive.

Consider these questions from Patrick Lencioni’s Working Genius assessment.

    • What are your most productive times of the day? Or days of the week?
    • What are your most productive environments?
    • Take a hard look at what's taking up your time and ask, am I the best person to do that?

2. Evaluate every task and meeting.

Which tasks can you identify that are urgent and not urgent and where do they fall in how much time they take you to complete?

Create a quadrant where you can write all of this out and see it in front of you. Map out your tasks, and the time that you’re spending on each of them, and figure out which of these fall into which quadrant. 

That will allow you to start evaluating where you want to put more time and where you want to spend less time. What should you give away? What should you stop doing? What should you put in your sweet spot? And what can you do in the afternoons right after lunch when you have no energy that maybe you should be giving less productive time to?

3. Make a plan.

By now, you’ve identified what you should be working on, when you should be working on it (and where), and what you should be delegating or eliminating.

Your next step is to set aside time on your calendar to work on the Q2 quadrant of tasks you’ve identified.

Keep in mind, that it has to be a plan that not only works for you but works for your team as well. And once you have a plan, communicate it and protect it.

4. Eat the frog first.

Take a lesson from Mark Twain here when he said, ‘If you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.’

Identify the most difficult or taxing thing you need to accomplish — and do it first thing.

When you do this, you leverage your most productive, focused mindset before the day has fatigued or annoyed you.

It also gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment that will motivate you throughout the day and help you avoid the time that can be wasted by procrastinating or avoiding tasks.

5. Master the art of delegation.

Start by delegating your urgent but not important tasks from your quadrant. This probably includes interruptions, emails, calls, meetings or proximate, pressing matters.

We always go back to Harvard Business Review’s six T’s of delegation when identifying what we can hand off to someone else.

    • Tiny
    • Tedious
    • Time-consuming
    • Time-sensitive
    • Teachable
    • Terrible at

Who on your team is great at what you’re terrible at? Who is ready for more responsibility?

Remember the 70% rule. If they can do it at least 70% as well as you can, delegate it to them.