I'm a part-time pastor … how do I keep everything in balance?

Question: I’m curious. I’m a fairly new pastor, only quarter time. But, as we all know, that is only what the salary reflects, not in the time put in. I also have a full time, 8-5, Monday through Friday job. For those of you that are bivocational, how do you keep everything balanced? How do you find time for Sabbath and family and just general “me” time?

My best answer:

You can keep things in balance … but life is not uniform. I became somewhat obsessed with time management when I graduated from Seminary because I had to figure out how to organize my time or I would be reacting to the demands of the squeaky wheel attention seekers – never a priority.
If you are part time, you have no time to waste, so you will need some extraordinary self-discipline. Assign every request to one of Steven Covey’s Quadrants –
Q1 – important, urgent.
Q2 – important, not urgent
Q3 – not important but urgent – finish ASAP or ignore if possible.
Q4 – not important, not urgent – ignore if possible.
Make an appointment to do Q1 and Q2 – both to ensure that you don’t procrastinate but also to assign them a time so that they don’t overflow and interfere with other aspects of your life.
Keep a running “to-do” list of Q3 and Q4 to do when there is leftover time. Delegate these tasks as often as possible. Procrastinate on them as much as possible … after all they are not important. The 80/20 suggests that 4 out of 5 things you attempt to do are either Q3 or Q4, so this is how you make part time work – find laity to do all of Q3 & Q4 and as much as you can of all your ministry (Eph 4:12 is your main job).
Divide your working time into four parts – 10 hours would be 2.5 hours each.
Devote one quarter each week to Pastoral Care of persons in crisis (Q1) and paying attention to others when important (Q2 – a minute at the right time saves nine.) Use the phone when your physical presence is not required, and send cards – people love that. People come first.
Devote one quarter each week to preparing your sermon and reading to support it. Plan for this carefully.
Devote one quarter each week to administration, which is both your task list but also how you work through other people – committees, for example.
The fourth quarter is flexible … each week something will be a priority out of one of the other three categories. And it is in the fourth quarter that your team wins.
There’s more on my thinking about this here if it seems helpful:
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