SMS: Know Your Margins (Part 1)

“I’m so busy.”

Chances are you’ve heard, read or said those words sometime in the last 20 minutes.

How do you react when you hear somebody else proclaim these words?  Sympathy?  Empathy?  Sarcasm?  Defensiveness? Calloused?

These overplayed words can have dramatic implication for your life.  Position Descriptions, job status, pay-rate and of course the health of your family are all effected by the perception and/or reality of these words.

Most of us are “busy,” or at least think of ourselves as busy.  Unfortunately some of us want to make it a competition or use our busyness as an excuse to be non-committal, non-relational or to get out of something we don’t want to do.  Others, are literally “too busy.”  Today’s Student Ministry Stuff (SMS) blog post is geared to help you assess whether or not you really are too busy.  Sometimes the answer is time-management at other times the solution is to make some drastic changes to your schedule.  In either case, discovery is the first step. You need to know whether or not there is margin in your life.

This post is specific to the “paid youth worker” out there, however, I believe this blog could be useful to those outside of vocational ministry as well; obviously some of the questions and applications change, but the basics remain the same.

In order to know whether you’re “too busy” or not or if you have margin in your life to add anything new begins with an assessment process.  It starts with taking an inventory.   Today we’ll start with “Perception.”  Tomorrows post will deal with “Reality.”

Margin Inventory: Perception

Grab a blank sheet of paper or an open Word Processing Doc to commit your answers to a page.

Answer the following questions, without spending more than 15 seconds on any one answer… that’s right, your answers need to be quick and just estimated.

Work/Ministry Related

  • How much time do you think you spend in “program” time each week (Youth Group, Sunday School, Small Group, events, etc.)?
  • How many hours are you in church-staff meetings (weekly staff meeting, one-on-one with Pastor, etc.)?
  • What amount of time would you estimate you spend studying for talks (messages) each week (Youth Group, prep for small group, Sunday school)?
  • What is your guesstimated time you spend planning or setting up for your weekly programs (game prep, errands for supplies, etc.)?
  • How many hours would you guess you spend doing contact work for ministry purposes (one-on-one with students, parents, leaders, etc.)?
  • How much time would you say you spend actively online per week  during “office” time (and for ministry purposes)?
  • What amount of time would you guess is given to other administrative tasks (phone, emails, chats, planning events)?
  • How much time is spent weekly planning for “BIG” events (missions, camps, retreats, fundraisers, curriculum development, etc.)?
  • How many hours, if any, are spent on a school campus, in network meetings or at ministry related events (ball games, choir concerts, etc.)?
  • Some have “other” tasks that stand out that need to be done, if so, what are those and the estimated hours needed?

Add up that total and you have an estimated “perceived” hours.

Again, this is the first of a process, tomorrow we’ll start to deal with “reality.”

Alright, let’s hear it; as we move from perception to reality, feel free to comment on your perceived hours spent each week.  Some people will be surprised your perceived hours are far more than you’d thought, whereas others grossly underestimated and your hours spent were far fewer than you thought; either way, let’s hear about it.



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