This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. I have used time tracking as a method for years to keep track of my hours, what I was spending my time on and to improve my time management. Here’s 7 benefits of time tracking in youth ministry:
1. It will make it easier to say no
If you know how much time a certain activity will take up, it will make it far easier for you to say no when you’re asked to do something. An often used argument is ‘it’ll only take you a few hours’ when people are trying to convince you to take on the job. But when you’re time-tracking you know that you don’t have the time because you’re already spending more than your ‘allotted’ working hours and you’ll know from the last time you said yes it won’t just be ‘a couple of hours’ but more in the vicinity of a couple of days. So you can say no with conviction, end of argument.
2. You can allocate time to priorities
When you know exactly how much time certain tasks cost you, you can determine what gets priority in your youth ministry and what will have to wait. Using the 80/20 rule will become a lot easier when you’re time tracking because you’ll know how much time each task will take. I already used time tracking when I was working as a manager in a hospital. Whenever my boss would come up with new tasks for me, I handed her my time tracking overview and asked her what activity I could drop to make time for the new one. It helped tremendously in determining priorities and in preventing a work overload.
3. Better planning
It will be much easier to execute your to do list when you know how much time each task will take. I knew for instance that making the weekly email update to all the youth would cost me about half an hour. So in my weekly planning, I would allocate half an hour each Tuesday to get that done. If I had a sermon coming up, I knew I needed two blocks of four hours and a block of two hours for preps, because I had been time-tracking for some time and those were the averages.
4. Identify time-consuming activities
Do you know what your biggest time-consumer is? For sure? Time tracking may give you some very interesting (and sometimes even confronting) insights to what you spend your time on. I discovered for instance that I spent way too much time on keeping our youth room stocked, tidied up and clean. So I asked one of the older youth to take over this responsibility, immediately freeing up about two hours a week for me.
5. Less distraction
It’s kinda funny how our mind works, but I’ve found that time tracking helps me to work more focused. Because I’m writing time and I know I have to put the time I’m spending in a certain category, I’m less likely to do different things at a time and I’m less distracted. It also encourages me to group similar tasks, thereby saving even more time.
6. Easy accountability
If someone wants to know what you’re spending your time on, for instance your senior pastor or the church board, you can show them easily. The things we do in youth ministry aren’t always clearly visible to others, like spending time on Facebook or hanging out with our students. Time tracking will help you ‘prove’ what you’re doing.
7. You know how much you work
The thing with being in youth ministry is that our hours are often flexible. We work a couple of hours in the morning, then we relax for a bit because we have a youth event that evening, but we also work on Sundays. At the end of the week, we sorta guess we’ve worked around 40 hours, but we’re not sure. When you do time tracking, you’ll know for sure. It will help you to not feel guilty when you take a day off. It’ll also give you hard data when anybody ever wants to check your hours. And for those of you that work part time as I did as a youth worker, you can make sure you actually work part time and not full time.
Convinced of the benefits of time tracking? You can invest in software, but a simple Excel sheet always worked just fine for me. Define some categories, make sure it adds up automatically per day and per week and don’t forget to fill it out each day. That’s it!
Have you ever used time tracking? How did it work for you?