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The Church Secretary's Quick Keys To Managing Multiple Projects

Apr 20, 2008
That's it! You've had it! If another person asks you to do one more thing you'll scream. Your desk is a mess and there just don't seem to be enough hours in a day. The days fly by, it's 5 o'clock before you know it and you haven't done a third of the items on your "to-do" list.

If you are a church secretary and any of these things sound familiar, just take a deep breath and relax. Here are 4 quick ways to get it all under control and keep your sanity:

1. Put your daily routine on autopilot.

Everyday tasks like writing letters, going through mail or returning phone calls and emails should be as easy as breathing. Schedule times during the day when you will do each task. Some people feel lost if they are not answering the phone every time it rings or constantly checking email.

Don't let this be you. There are certain people... like my boss... that I always answer the phone for, but almost everyone else has to wait until I'm"doing phone duty." I carve out time in my schedule each day to return emails and phone messages and another time to deal with correspondence.

If the ministry goes under during the few hours that you are "unreachable" by phone, your answering the phone wasn't going to fix the problem anyway. You'll get so much more work done if you are not constantly interrupted by phones and "dinging" emails. Try it... you'll be glad you did.

2. Always keep a "to-do" list.

I am the mistress of lists. I make lists for everything. Each major project gets its own list. Each event gets a checklist. I may not be lost without my phone, but I am definitely uncomfortable without my lists.

Keeping checklists saves you from trying to remember everything that you have to do. And inevitably, you will forget something. No amount of Gingko Bilboa is going to help you remember 20 different tasks for each of your 5 separate projects that are all happening simultaneously. In my e-book, Effectively Managing Multiple Projects... A Super Easy Guide to Getting Organized, Reducing Office Clutter, & Producing More With Less Stress, I include a sample checklist that can be used for any project. I use it religiously for all of the events I work on.

Your "to-do" list... don't go a day without it.

3. Don't be a control freak.

Sometimes this is a hard one. Especially when there is a lot riding on your project going right. There are times, however, when we must delegate work to others...volunteers or other staff members.

Delegating assignments doesn't mean you've issued a death wish. Most people are as competent as you "allow" or "help" them to be. What am I saying? Set clear goals and expectations for those whose help you enlist. Never give an assignment and leave it up to your helpers to assume what you expect.

If a task has a clear deadline, make sure you communicate this to your team. If you want them to be creative and think of a new way to do XYZ, then tell them exactly that. Otherwise they may not realize that they have creative freedom. Give as much help as you can by providing samples of how something was done before or directing them to people they may want to contact who can assist them in getting the job done.

When you delegate work to others, you help yourself by taking some of the load off your plate. Arming them with clear goals and expectations ensures you get the result you desire and empowers them to do the best job.

4. Consistently follow-up and follow-through.

Follow-up and follow-through are critical if you are going to succeed at your job. First you must follow-up with people you may have assigned work to. You have to follow-up with vendors and other people you do business with. Everybody is busy and everybody has a lot of work to do and everybody forgets something.

And let's face it... sometimes our projects are only important to us. When you follow-up, do so early enough to allow adequate time for unexpected hiccups and you'll be much less stressed. As stated in the "Quick & Easy Tips" section, use flags to remind people about important deadlines. You don't always have to spend time with your ear glued to a phone calling people. This could also be something that you assign to a volunteer.

The twin to follow-up is follow-through. This all rests with you. If you set a deadline, regardless of what anybody else does, you have to meet your deadline. If something unforeseen happens, at least take the initiative to call or email your workers and/or vendors to let them know that you need to set a new deadline.

Others will follow your lead. If you are lackadaisical about your project, they will be to. If you never meet your deadlines with them, they will probably not care about meeting their deadlines with you. If you tell your team you'll have specific information for them at your meeting, you should have the information at the meeting.

Excellence in this area is vitally important. There is no substitute.

You CAN do it!

You can get it all done and not be overwhelmed in the process. All it takes is a little investment upfront to get your days flowing like a peaceful river. This does not mean that things won't come up, or that your pastor (boss) won't have last minute assignments. However, if you have everything else in place, the unexpected interruptions will be molehills and not mountains.

The Project Management primer included with my book, Basic Training 101: Effectively Managing Multiple Projects... A Super Easy Guide to Getting Organized, Reducing Office Clutter, & Producing More With Less Stress, gives you just the boost you need to get going in the right direction. As an added bonus, there's also a Meeting Planner Worksheet included to help you get the most out of your meetings.
About the Author
Tamala M. Huntley is author of the revolutionary manual, "Basic Training 101: A Super Easy Guide to Getting More Done, Reducing Office Clutter and Producing More With Less Stress." To learn more about her book and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit http://www.churchsecretaryessentials.com NOTE: You're welcome to "reprint" this article online as as it remains complete and unaltered with the "about the author info" at the end.
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