The 7 Keys to Setting Effective Deadlines

Deadlines are an important tool. Try to attach one to every task you add to your to-do list. Keep the following seven keys in mind to help you start setting deadlines like a pro:

  1. Decide whether the proposed task is worth doing. As mentioned previously, don’t waste your time on activities that either don’t need to be done or could be performed by someone else. Prioritizing is vital.
  2. Be realistic. It is easy to be overly optimistic when setting deadlines. Make a realistic assessment of what it will take to get something done, and then schedule your deadline accordingly. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for failure and frustration.
  3. Be specific. Clear deadlines are easier to meet than foggy ones. Make sure you are as specific as possible with each one. For example, setting a deadline like “Finish a chunk of The Renegade Pastor’s Guide to Time Management book by 5 p.m.” is okay, but “Finish twelve hundred words by 5 p.m.” is more specific and quantifiable and thus far more preferable.
  4. Break large projects into manageable parts. If a project deadline is too far in the future, or the project is too large to get a handle on, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get started. A better plan is to focus on smaller parts of the large task and set deadlines for each of those. As you check off the smaller tasks, the larger one will “magically” get completed.
  5. Reward yourself for meeting deadlines. Again, there are consequences for not getting things done in a timely manner. There should also be rewards for finishing tasks on time. When you meet a big deadline, schedule an extra hour of reading or take your spouse out for a date night. Such intentional rewards provide powerful motivation for getting things done.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You and I can always get further faster when we work together. Solicit others to join your team to help accomplish what needs to get done. You will get more done, and you will give others the satisfaction of being part of working in God’s Kingdom.
  7. Let others hold you accountable. Have someone else–a staff member, another church member or pastor–know what your deadlines are, and give that person permission to check in with you. Knowing that you are being held accountable will keep you going when you may feel like stopping.

Deadlines are key to accomplishing more tasks, more effectively, every day. Learn to use them often and well in your journey toward renegade time management.

– Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman

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The above excerpt is from pgs. 78-80 of The Renegade Pastor’s Guide to Time Management. 

Time is your most important God-given resource no matter how hard you work, you can’t make a day last longer than twenty-four hours. By mastering a set of proven time-management principles, you can regain control of your life. It is possible to manage your time so that you can stay on top of the never-ending demands of being a pastor, nurture your congregation, spend quality time with your family, and take care of your physical and emotional needs. Become the pastor God has called you to be.

P.S. – Click here to grab your copy from Amazon today!

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyLeadership, Ministry