Why You Should Spend More Time Thinking About Schedule Management

Personal Development

Here’s the bottom line… if you don’t control your schedule, someone else will.

For pastors and ministry leaders, schedule management can be difficult for numerous reasons, some of which are: 

  1. People frequently desire more of your time
  2. The workload of a growing ministry can be overwhelming
  3. Most ministers are bi-vocational, splitting ministry time with secular work
  4. The constant pursuit for growth generates more tasks for your list

This difficulty creates frustration for the minister, and for people who work with them.

Family and personal time is often sacrificed on the altar of progress. Appointments get double-booked, attended late, or missed. Things that need to get done are replaced by things that demand immediate attention.

So, what can you do? You can learn to be more effective at schedule management. Here are some important things to consider.

  1. Establish your ideal weekly schedule
  2. Make appointments with yourself
  3. Say No
  4. Delegate and empower
  5. Use schedule management tools

1. Establish your ideal weekly schedule

The first thing you should do is architect what an ideal week looks like for you. Be sure not to overlook important things like time for prayer, devotion, exercise, family time, etc. Then consider building in a theme for each day… something like this:

  1. Mondays = followup and rest
  2. Tuesdays = study and leadership meetings
  3. Wednesdays = fasting and preparation
  4. Thursdays = counseling and ministry meetings
  5. Friday = rest and relaxation
  6. Saturday = more rest and Sunday Prep
  7. Sunday = Church

2. Make appointments with yourself

Within each day, plan the major repeating tasks you’ll expect to do each week, and block out the necessary time to accomplish them. Determine what, if any, time you’ll devote to chance meetings.

Don’t feel guilty about making appointments with yourself. In order to manage your schedule effectively, you’ll need the power of appointments to be able to guard your productivity. I’ll mention more about that in the next point.

If you don’t plan your days, your days will plan you. Enter each task in your calendar and set reminder notifications for them. These reminders can both prompt you to take action, and can also come in handy when you’re in a meeting that needs to end on time. “Sorry, we have to wrap this up… I have another appointment.” Even if that appointment is to take that nap you’ve needed.

3. Say No

Let’s face it… You do more than you should because you feel guilty about letting people down.

Let’s also face this… you are already letting people down, or you wouldn’t be reading an article about how to manage your schedule.

You just have to choose which end you want to be on – the end that says, “I’m really sorry but I just don’t have the bandwidth to help with this. Can I recommend…” Or the side that says, “I know you’ve been waiting on this for a week, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t gotten to it yet… so sorry… I’ll get right on it” followed by pushing something else off so you can make this first person less disappointed. Who wants to live in that endless cycle of dropping the ball on everything?

You just have to be willing to tell them no. If your calendar is planned, your days are themed, and your appointments are on your calendar, you can safely refer to it when someone asks if you can do something and give them a fair assessment.

4. Delegate and empower

Notice I didn’t just say “delegate”. Delegation is a great way to get things off your list, but it’s not always a great way to ensure things get done.

Be sure the person you’re asking to take on the task is capable and empowered by you to do it. Let them have the authority to make decisions that you don’t need to make. Authorize them to work within certain constraints (financial, time, workforce, etc.) and then get out of their way.

Delegating effectively may not mean that you don’t spend any time on the task, but it may just mean less time. It may be an opportunity to mentor in the moment as well.

Bottom line is, time saved is time earned.

5. Use schedule management tools

There are many tools you can use to help with schedule management, but I’ll just recommend two. The first is a no-brainer, and the second is a game changer.

  1. Use a cloud-based calendar. There are a plethora of choices such as Apple Calendar, Google Calendar, or the many smart-phone apps ready to download.

    But any calendar you use should be able to sync across all your devices so you’re always aware of where you should be and what you should be doing.

    This will also set you up for the next tool… the game changer…

  2. Use an automated scheduling assistant. I highly recommend a tool called Calendly which has a free tier and a premium tier. I find the free version to be completely suitable for my needs

    Essentially Calendly helps you schedule meetings without back-and-forth communication… but it does more.

    Here’s how I use it…

    On my master schedule with Calendly, I set the windows of days and time of the week that I would generally be available. Then, Calendly accesses my cloud calendar to see what’s already scheduled and blocks that out.

    When I send my personal Calendly link to people, they see only my open meeting availability and can select a meeting time with me from that list.

    This prevents me from overbooking and makes it easy for people to just pick a spot that works for them without comparing calendars and haggling for time.

    So, let’s say you have only two hours a day, 3 days a week that you want to meet with people, you just set it up that way in Calendly. When someone asks for some of your time, you just send them a link of your availability. If your next availability is a week or two away, they’re now keenly aware of your limited time and can decide if it’s important enough to wait.

    Someone recently asked for some time with me after church, and I was able to say, “I don’t have time right now but I’ll text you my calendar link and you can grab a spot that works for you.”

    It takes the guilt off of saying no and eliminates the potential of stealing time from family and other important things to “fit” a meeting in with someone.

    When someone schedules a meeting with you, Calendly will notify you and give them the option of adding the event to their own calendar.

    I’ve found it to be a great help, and you might as well.


I hope you’ve found at least one helpful tip here. If you have any others, please leave them in the comments or send me a personal message. I’d love to hear from you.