My undergrad degree is industrial engineering. So, planning comes second nature for me. Yet as a busy pastor I’ve found that I can never get adequate long-term planning done unless I carve out regular extended times away, by myself, away from the office. Here are a few tips I suggest.
- Schedule 2-3 personal planning times each year, preferable overnight in a place with no TV. I’ve used retreat centers and a friend’s cabin in the woods. Ideally I’m in such a location that I don’t have to talk to anybody. I’ve found it ideal to plan those times well in advance of ministry seasons (i.e., Aug/Sept for the coming year plans).
- Compile a list of items you want to think about on your retreats. I use Outliner on my iPhone/iPad to jot down ideas and thoughts I want to pursue later but don’t have time at the moment to think about. Another great tool across all Mac and PC platforms is Nozbe.
- On the retreat, prioritize what you want to plan, starting with the most important. I’ve discovered I never get to everything on my list, but I do get to the priorities.
- Schedule you next retreat as your first task. This allows me another block of time to address long-term planning for items I don’t get to on this retreat.
- Go expecting that God will guide this process.
What has helped make your planning retreats successful?