As a church communicator, if you ever feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions by too many people, it’s probably because you are. Unlike most of the other ministries in your church, communications is one of the few departments in a church that is tasked with serving every ministry. This includes children, marriage, men, and women’s ministry just to name a few. And when all of these converge, it makes for the perfect church communications storm.
Now, I can hear your voice in my head right now, “I’m barely able to execute on all my tasks right now, how can I possibly fix that?” So glad you asked.
1. Take a deep breath.
Three years ago, I had to go to the hospital because I was having chest pains. The doctor said part of my symptoms were due to being too stressed out. One of the things he told me to practice was taking a deep breath at my desk when I feel stress coming on. He also told me to start eating healthier and exercising more. This is serious stuff. Being stressed out isn’t some kind of badge of honor. And it shouldn’t just be endured because everyone else around you is enduring it.
2. Tell your supervisor.
You should never go through this alone. That’s why you have a supervisor. Talk to them. Tell them what’s going on. They may be able to help you implement the next five steps.
3. Express that your supervisor needs to advocate for you if they aren’t already.
Your supervisor should be your advocate. If you’re working 60-70 hours per week, your supervisor should be willing and able to help you through that. They may be able to take things off your plate, or at least help you manage what’s already on your plate.
4. Create a communication request form.
Typically, things get thrown out of whack because there aren’t systems in place for you and your ministries to work within. If you just have random co-workers coming to your desk and asking for things, chances are you’re going to lose track of tasks. That’s why you need to create an online communication request form. Google Forms is great for this. Then set a deadline each month for requests to be submitted. This will save you and your co-workers many headaches.
5. Create communication deadlines with grace for ministries.
Speaking of deadlines, it’s important to have them in place, otherwise you won’t have much motivation to get things done. I like to say “deadlines with grace” because I often set deadlines early, knowing my co-workers have a tendency to submit requests late. If I set the deadline early, it gives me some cushion to work with them.
6. Create a to-do list or implement a project management system and prioritize your tasks.
One reason you may be getting overwhelmed in your work is because you don’t have a list of priorities for projects. So what does “project management” mean? Simply, it means breaking down a project into smaller tasks and then prioritizing those tasks based on importance. This helps you not get overwhelmed when you are tasked with a big project, when it’s difficult to see how it’s all going to get completed. When you break that big project into smaller tasks, you’re then able to complete to-do’s and begin to make progress toward completion.
7. If you still can’t get everything done within your allotted time for the week, go back to your supervisor and express the difficulty you’re having.
If all of this fails, it may just mean that you have too much on your plate. The only way you’re going to get it all done is by working more hours, and that’s not always healthy. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to go back to your supervisor and debrief how you have been doing. If your supervisor truly cares about your health, they’ll want to have a conversation about what needs to change in your role.
Finally, if you’re a supervisor and you’re reading this, please care about your team enough to make sure they’re living healthy lives. It’s not going to serve you, your church, or them and their family to have them get burnt out.