Ministry Toolbox: The Old-Fashioned Calendar

Ready to workI don’t know how it has happened, but 2013 seems to be flying by to me. Between managing volunteer teams doing Sandy Relief work here on Long Island, launching several new coaching cohorts, new business partnerships, and making Ministry Briefing happen, January has disappeared, and February is in full swing. It is seasons like these that I am grateful for my calendar.

I realize that statement may sound goofy, but I did not always feel this way… for the first half of my time in ministry, I attempted to keep track of my schedule in my head. While I was pretty good at meeting my commitments, and only rarely did I miss a meeting, I didn’t realize the stress that I was putting on myself. In the back of my mind, I was slightly terrified that I was forgetting something: picking up a student from school, a commitment made to a volunteer, or an appointment with my dentist.

It wasn’t that I was against calendars… it was just that I had yet to find a solution that worked for me. Day planners didn’t work… they were too easily lost. Palm Pilots were too fragile for youth ministry (don’t ask), and those little pocket sized books that the insurance man gives out were too cramped to be of any good. about eight years ago, I set about devising a system that works for me, and may work for you as well.

I currently use a paper calendar, and a Google Calendar… here is how I use them:

  • IMG_0360Paper Calendar: I am a visual processor. As I plan out my weeks and months, I need to be able to stare at something on my wall and understand the big events that are happening in my life. Major due dates, trips, conferences, speaking engagements, and other big-deal events in my life go on the paper calendar that I hang on my wall. I use this calendar to plan out the strategic, big picture part of my life… while keeping it clear of the day to day appointments and other clutter. I have found that Jesse Phillips’ NeuYear Calendars are phenomenal for my purposes… and they even look pretty cool.
  • Google Calendar: While my electronic calendar includes everything on the paper calendar, it also has all the tactical details of my day to day life. Dentist appointments, small group meetings, client appointments, coaching cohorts, blog content, and so on. While the paper calendar keeps me on track from a more strategic perspective, it is the electronic calendar that helps me manage my day to day. I use Google calendar because it syncs pretty easily across all the platforms I use, it allows me to share it with people I am working with, and is free.

My system is constantly evolving, but has been fairly similar for several years now…

How do YOU manage YOUR schedule?

My friend Jesse has offered to give away three calendars to Church Thought readers. Leave a comment below on how YOU handle scheduling, and you might score one… I will pick three random comments on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at noon eastern to win a calendar. Jesse is also giving Church Thought readers 30% off a calendar purchased between now and the end of February. Just follow this link and use the code ChurchSimple at checkout (yes, it’s an affiliate link).


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

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    Sounds like a good system. I’m addicted to Google Calendar for managing my own schedule, and I use several different Google calendars so I can show or hide different layers as necessary. Also, the NeuYear calendar looks pretty cool!

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