Some Practices to Improve the Use of Your Time


Everyone can improve how productively they use their time each day. It isn’t necessarily a matter of working harder or having the most items on your to-do list crossed off. The important thing is working toward your goals and getting there on time or ahead of schedule. In working with churches and their leaders over the years, I have identified some practices that encourage the productive use of time as well as some time wasters.

Learn to say “no” when needed. Adding on more does not work for long. Sometimes we need to decline even what looks like a good opportunity.

  • Plan your day’s total activities, not just your work. Your personal life often overlaps with your work and vice versa. Your calendar, planner, or other tools should be complete and not compartmentalized.
  • Learn to say “no” when needed. Adding on more does not work for long. Sometimes we need to decline even what looks like a good opportunity.
  • Put your goals in front of you. Keep them posted so you can see them each day. Ensure that at least some of what you are doing each day is connected to those goals.
  • Establish a set time each day to plan the next day.
  • Allow some time for the unexpected.
  • Break large tasks into smaller action steps. Doing smaller tasks creates momentum and will help a big task seem smaller.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable. Share your plans with them and ask them to challenge you periodically on your progress.
  • Recognize procrastination when it happens.
  • Never leave a meeting without an action plan. Who is going to do what and by when?
  • Eliminate ineffective or unnecessary meetings.
  • Always begin and end meetings on time.
  • Try setting a time limit for certain tasks instead of working from start to finish.
  • Plan for waiting times. Make sure you have something with you that will add value and not just fill the time.
  • Set specific times during the day for email and social media. Don’t let them run your day.
  • Let your voicemail answer calls when you are working on a top priority item.
  • Balance social connecting with people and getting your work done.
  • Avoid micromanaging the work of others.
  • Invest time to prevent problems before they materialize.
  • Identify things you can simply stop doing.

This article is adapted from Ken’s book Time Management for the Christian Leader (Abingdon Press, 2015) and used with permission. It is available at Cokesbury and Amazon.

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About Author

Ken Willard

Ken Willard ( is the director of discipleship, leadership, and congregational vitality for the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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