Have you ever double-booked yourself? Or maybe had a complaint from the church finance team because you’ve lost receipts again? So many of us hope for some magical new dedication to being organized or that the problems would just disappear. Instead many of us are still lacking in organization and feel overwhelmed.
Why Is Organization Important?
Most of us believe that organization in ministry is important. And we have many reasons for believing so. But let me give a reason that we don’t always notice.
Think about a time when you were disorganized in your work. Maybe you lost track of time and forgot to submit that expense report before it was due, or maybe you missed a meeting with your boss because it wasn’t on your calendar, or maybe you hesitated too long to register your group for camp before all the spots filled up. Whether or not any of these events have happened to you, we have all been overwhelmed by similar situations.
All three of these potential catastrophes and so many more can be prevented (or at least minimized) when we are organized. But when we are not organized, chaos ensues. And when chaos ensues, blood pressure rises. Why? Because…
“Anxiety flourishes under disorganization.”
And take it from an anxiety expert, when anxiety flourishes you can become paralyzed to the need for organization. It becomes a nasty cycle—disorganization creates anxiety and anxiety prevents us from reorganizing our lives.
We need to break the cycle.
How can I become organized if I’m overwhelmed?
Breaking the cycle means pinpointing exactly where we need to be more organized and targeting that area so that anxiety is minimized. When you’re overwhelmed, the first question you should ask is, “Where am I most disorganized?” (If you already know disorganization is causing you anxiety, then another helpful question on pinpointing areas of disorganization could be, “What is causing me the most anxiety right now?”)
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It could be that the most disorganized part of your life is staring you right in the face. Ask yourself, “How clean is my workspace?” If you have an office, is it clean or cluttered? Can you find things easily? Do you have a stack of papers sitting on top of your desk? You have probably heard the truism that a cluttered space is a cluttered mind (or something like that). Sometimes simply the practice of organization in our workspace can help us feel less overwhelmed.
List of tasks?
Maybe you’re not suffering from a cluttered office but from a disorganized task list. Each week you go to work searching for important tasks to do, but you never formally write down what it is you need to get done. Stop that! The time to write down the list of tasks you need to get done on a given week is at the end of the previous week. That way when you go into work at the start of the new week, you can immediately start on your tasks.
My method is to separate my tasks into primary and secondary lists. I have noticed that I’m most productive in the morning, so I plan to do my primary tasks first and save my secondary tasks for later in the day. Find a method that works for you and stick with it. Organization of our tasks can help manage the feelings of being overwhelmed.
Closely related to a list of tasks is the need for a written (or typed) schedule. Without a written schedule, you will be late or absent for one or more of your meetings and you will miss deadlines—I promise you that from personal experience. Do not fall for the trick you play on yourself when you say, “I don’t need to write this down, I’ll remember it.” Again, I promise, you will miss something.
I have found it helpful to have two calendars. One of them is a personal calendar for all my meetings, appointments, etc. The second calendar is a schedule of all our ministry events—planned and potential—and due dates for long-term projects.
Maybe you can come up with a system that works best for you, but the point is that you are proactive about doing something.
Sometimes we need an outside look into our systems (or lack thereof!). Find a mentor – or even better, a YMI Coach – to guide you into discovering what organization habits can help. Feeling overwhelmed often leads to burnout which can harm you and your ministry.
Zack holds a Master of Divinity degree, a bachelor’s in Biblical and Theological Studies from Palm Beach Atlantic University, and he is also an alumnus of YMI. He has the pleasure of serving as the Director of Youth & Young Adults and the Website & Social Media Coordinator at Sanlando United Methodist Church in Longwood, FL. Zack loves spending time with his wife, Olivia, usually by soaking up the Florida sun at the beach together.