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Getting Organized

Jolene L. Roehlkepartain

"This year I resolve to get organized!"

How many years have you been saying that? Well, now's the time to turn your resolutions into executions. Take the time now to get organized to save time later.

Try these tested children's ministry time-saving tips to give your new year a new start:

*Clean out the closets. Don't waste valuable storage space with things you don't use. Give each item the 12-month test. Has it been used within the past year? If not, figure out why. If it hasn't been used because it's broken, fix it. If you don't use that filmstrip projector because you show videos instead, donate the projector to your favorite charity.

*Let children use their imaginations. Gather all the junk you want to toss. Put all this stuff (except the gooey apple cores) in a large box. During your next children's ministry program, let the children make art projects from these items.

*Investigate before you invest. Thinking of buying more equipment for your church playground or nursery? Call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to find out about equipment recalls before you spend the money. Call 800-638-CPSC.

*Consolidate phone calls. Designate the "sleepy" part of your day to make and return phone calls. Put all your calls on a "to-do" list and do them all at once. Talking to people will help you feel more alert. And letting someone else take messages while you do your concentrated work will cut interruptions.

*Set limits. Instead of adding another file cabinet or bookshelf, resolve to get rid of your old stuff to make room for your new stuff. The same is true with closets. Your church doesn't have unlimited space to store all your children's ministry treasures.

*Give your desk a makeover. The definition of a desk: A level writing surface. A desk is not a dumping ground for all the stuff you're afraid to throw away. Your desk should have only the items you're currently working on. File away other papers. Put away extra pens, notes and mail. Throw away pens that don't work. Dump the junk. Clear your desk so you have a level surface to work on.

*Organize supplies. Meet with your most organized Sunday school teachers to give your supply closet a new look. Store the construction paper together. Fill all the glue bottles. Make the supply area user-friendly. Label bins and shelves so teachers know where to return supplies not used. Then designate one person to be the supply keeper. This person will keep the area organized and order supplies when they're low-instead of when they're out.

*Read mail with the garbage can. When the mail comes in, pull up a garbage can and deal with all the mail immediately. Throw away what you don't need to respond to or refer to. Don't let mail pile up.

*Stock up on postcards. With a clip art book, make a birthday postcard, a get-well postcard, a "you're special" postcard and a "we're glad you came" postcard. Then take the postcards to your local print shop and get a bunch made. Remember to mention these are postcards so the printer will make them the right size and weight to meet postal regulations. After they're printed, use the postcards to jot quick notes to children. Or call 800-747-6060 to order Children's Ministry Care Cards.

*Keep on top of the budget. Instead of growling about your "big, bad budget" and then losing all your receipts, buy 12 manila envelopes. Mark one envelope for each month of the year. Put your receipts and expenditure records in the corresponding envelope. Then recruit someone to update your budget once or twice a month.

*Write a mission statement. Write a short summary of your purpose in children's ministry. Hang it where you can see it. Periodically ask yourself whether the work you're doing fits your mission statement.

*Dump those catalogs. Instead of letting catalogs pile up, get rid of them -- especially if they're a year old or more. If you feel you must keep catalogs for future reference, alphabetize them in a file. When a new catalog arrives, toss the old one.

*Use only one calendar. Life gets too complicated when you have more than one calendar. No wonder your ministry can spill into your personal life if you don't know what you're doing outside of the office. Find one calendar that can travel with you. Keep track of personal appointments as well as your ministry programs. If you have a hard time saying no to work, paste a gold star in a space each week. That star represents time for yourself or your family. If someone wants to meet with you during that time, you can honestly say that you already have something planned-and that it's important. (What else would a gold start represent?)

*Rent, don't own. If you use a circus tent only once a year for a summer program, rent it instead of buying it. Do you really have room to store all those once-a-year items?

*Make each room child-friendly. Buy a large roll of butcher paper. Hang it from the wall so children can tear off paper whenever they want to write or draw. Store toys in plastic bins so children can take out the toys they want to play with.

*Organize your orders. Label one folder "orders." Put a copy of the order or the page from the catalog you're buying from in this folder. This helps you keep track of the curriculum and supplies you've ordered. When your order arrives, toss your reminder.

*Prioritize each day. Start each day by deciding which tasks are most important for you to do. Then set aside quiet time to do your concentrated work. Close your door. Post a "Do Not Disturb" message on your door. Let someone else take phone messages. Make time for your important work.

*Find a system that works for you. Experiment with different organizational systems to see which one helps you be organized. But keep it simple. An organizational system should cut your workload, not add to it.

Jolene L. Roehlkepartain is contributing editor for CHILDREN'S MINISTRY Magazine.

Copyright© Group Publishing, Inc. /Children's Ministry Magazine

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