Ask This Question to Focus More and Stress Less

August 15, 2018

Enjoy this guest post from our friends at 95Network! They connect small and mid-size churches to BIG resources through content, conferences and grant funds.  

Ever feel like you’re being pulled in a thousand directions?

The other day, I looked at my list of upcoming tasks and I honestly wasn’t sure where to start. I had to start developing designs for an upcoming event, fix a couple issues on our website, write an article to cast vision for a new aspect of our ministry, plan a promo video, keep up with social media, and remember to eat lunch before 2:00 pm.

I’m sure you’ve been there. For church communicators, it’s especially easy to feel this way. Whether you’re the only person on staff or you have a fairly robust team to work with, new projects around the church sneak in and it can be difficult to know which should take priority.

In Essentialism (a book you should definitely have on your shelf), Greg McKeown shares, “We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives… Everything changes when we give ourselves permission to be more selective in what we choose to do.”

Over the years in various communications positions, I’ve learned one important thing:

You’ll always be asked to do more. But you have to be willing to ask what you should deprioritize in order to accomplish the new project.

It’s easy to simply say “yes” to every request that comes our way. Can I update our children’s ministry logo? Sure! Can I put together a promo video by next Sunday? I’m sure I could make that work! And the requests keep coming...

A shift happens, however, when we use this response to requests from our leaders:

“I’d be more than happy to work on this project. Right now I’m also working on the booklets for our new small group study, the video for next Sunday, and the graphics for our upcoming women’s retreat. What would you like me to deprioritize in order to accomplish this project?

In certain cases, you can simply ask yourself that question if the priority levels on upcoming tasks are clear. Either way, it’s a powerful question and there are a few reasons I find it so valuable:

1) Your time is protected.
Your time is valuable and, if you can help it, it’s important not to over-commit yourself. By protecting your time, you are able to meet deadlines and stay energized.

2) Your leader is reminded of your current list.
This is a great way to lead up and maximize the effort of the whole team. Your leader also has a ton of tasks and projects to keep up with. By reminding them what you’re working on, they are able to clarify and adjust expectations to be realistic with your current capacity.

3) You get to do great work.
This is the fun part and it’s what drives most of us. When priorities are clear, we get to invest our energy into doing the best work we can on the projects that are most important.

As communicators, it can be easy to let our efforts and energy be pulled in whatever direction people “need” them to be. But taking the time to prioritize and deprioritize the projects we have on our list allows us to accomplish the right project at the right time with the necessary space to finish it well.

Austin Savage - 95Network