plan

Managing Various Types of Energy

Leadership / Time Management / Time Management/Organization //

These days, I’m all about paying attention to my energy levels, and doing my best to manage the various types of energy I’m expending throughout the day. I’m a nerd. I’m aware.

Let’s be clear. Good energy really boils down to the quality of that first, great, iced-coffee of the day. Bad morning coffee (or, worse! no morning coffee) = bad energy. It’s simple, people.

I’ve noticed — in my job, there are different types of energy I need to expend throughout the week:People (one-on-one pastoral/leadership conversations), Thinking (high level, vision, long-term planning and problem-solving), Team (meetings in which I’m a contributor), Get-It-Done (tasks), and Sunday (game day, and a combo, really, of all the other categories).

For me, recognizing the various types of energy and then planning my days accordingly has been the key. I’ve found that I work best, with the most mental clarity when I organize my days based on the different types of energies. currently, here’s how my week looks:

MONDAY: Team, Get-It-Done — i participate in staff meetings, and follow up on sunday related items. on Sundays, I expend a lot of energy, so I need mondays to re-set, accomplish simple tasks, and participate well as a team contributor.

TUESDAY: People — I schedule all of my one-on-one pastoral and leadership conversations for this day: volunteer, parent, and staff planning meetings. expending my people energy on one day is exhilirating + exhausting (let’s be honest), but it allows me to stay present and focused when I’m moving from one conversation to another, without the pressure or distraction of completing tasks in between. On my to-do list for tuesdays, I list: “Fully engage in meetings. Follow up post meetings.” That’s it. If I accomplish those things, I’ve been successful. Also, this week, I’m experimenting with not checking email on tuesdays as an attempt to increase my mental presence with people.

WEDNESDAY: Thinking — this day, wednesday, could also be known as the anti-tuesday. I set aside this day for no meetings, and all-thinking. I arrive early to my favorite coffee shop and spend the entire day developing long-term ministry plans, researching new ideas, and pursuing partnerships. For this week, I have: further develop 2014-2015 ministry plan, finalize volunteer chart, and write global leadership process questions on my wednesday to-do list. All things I’ll need plenty of space to think about. Also, when a high-level question arises during the week, I don’t have to panic about not having immediate answers. I can add it to the wednesday list, and know I’ll have time to think through a creative, wise solution.

THURSDAY: People, Get-It-Done — because being a pastor requires more than just one full day of people, right? Right. As I’ve been paying attention to my energy levels, I’ve noticed that I’m energized on Thursday mornings (due to the energy that wednesdays give me), but exhausted by Thursday afternoons (due to thursday being the final day of my work week). Because of this, I’m trying to expend people energy in the mornings, and task-get-it-done energy in the afternoons. (As an aside:this post — fantastic! a defnite encouragement for remaining present with people.)

SUNDAY: Sunday — the day all of the energies meet together. greeting, noticing people. following up, connecting on conversations. inspiring, informing volunteers. implementing curriculum, activities. Because sundays are super-high-energy, I’m experimenting with ways to relax and transition on Sunday afternoons and evenings. I’ve experimented with mindless activities (grocery shopping, errands) and mindful activities (continuing to work on tasks related to the upcoming week). But, neither have been just right. I picked up this book in hopes it would inspire new ideas. seriously, when it comes to this topic, my nerd status has no limits.

Final note. Managing and scheduling my days according to energies is a helpful, mindful way for me to be productive and present throughout the week. Of course, the life of a pastor always contains some level of unpredictability. This schedule is ideal, for me. But not always the way the week actually goes. I must hold the ideal and the actual in tension, recognizing the good in both.

Cheers to this week, and all that it will bring (coffee, included).

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About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (whatsinthebible.com), and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative (kidmin.com). Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at lemonlimekids.com and tweets at @adolan.