In the church office a big task can take many forms: Offices are being relocated; updated computer software is needed; the church is hosting a major event—or a multitude of neglected small jobs finally grows into one big, overwhelming job. Whatever the source, a major task poorly handled can create more than a little turmoil.
Problems dealing with big jobs can often be traced right to the beginning.
Get off to a good start by following these three rules:
• Know the goal.
Big tasks are generally composed of many small tasks. Before starting the journey, know where you are going.
• Be sure stages of progress are clear.
Set a firm start date, a completion date, and intermediate checkpoints along the way. Spread pieces of the job evenly throughout the time allotted.
• Do first things first.
Devise a logical plan of action instead of just jumping in. Time, energy, and resources are always wasted when preliminary steps are neglected.
With rules in place, follow through—
• Stick to your start date.
In the crush of daily responsibilities it becomes easy to rationalize that “now” is not a good time to start on a big job that isn’t due for weeks. Don’t wait for the perfect time or for divine inspiration; neither is likely. A late start inevitably affects the project—target dates are missed and best efforts are blown away as you rush to catch up.
Follow your schedule.
• Pick your times.
We all have times of day when we are most energetic and sharp. Match the most challenging parts of your project to these prime times. Schedule routine parts of the task at other times convenient to your schedule.
• Divide and conquer.
Breaking each phase of the assignment into manageable parts makes it easier to keep the job rolling along and to chart progress. Treat each of these mini-deadlines seriously. A completion date may seem far away, but that is an illusion. The closer a deadline gets, the faster it rushes up to you.
• Involve others.
Enlisting volunteers or coworkers for parts of the project gives them a vested interest in the success of the task and generates added enthusiasm.
Keep your team and supervisor informed. Make sure those assisting you have a clear vision of what is to be accomplished. They need to know exactly what is expected and when. Allow them to do their jobs as they see fit within the boundaries you have identified. Listen to their questions and suggestions. New ideas and solutions are often generated in the process of working through a project. Be generous with praise but direct it toward results, not simple busy work.
• Promise and give rewards.
Whether you work alone or enlist others in the big task, incentives along the way keep the job interesting and fun. Treats, however small, increase motivation and productivity. Listing the names of those who help with projects is a good practice. Most often, what gets recognized gets done.
• Chart your progress.
Setting deadlines is one thing; meeting them is another—especially when several people are involved. Visibly tracking completed steps is an effective way to make sure every detail is covered. And nothing feels better than checking that last item off the list and receiving congratulations on a job well done.