Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Here’s the final part 3 of 3 posts on some brutally practical tips on managing your ministry life.


I hate a cluttered inbox.  I try and keep mine to 200 or less. Maybe that’s cluttered for you. Maybe that’s a dream.  But if I get it to 50 it’s a miracle.  Around 100 is just kinda normal for me.  If it hits 200 or more and I have to go sit down and deal with it. If an e-mail is in my “inbox”, it is because I either haven’t read it, haven’t finished the project it is relating to, or it is there as a to-do list reminder of sorts.

But, here’s what I do to keep most of it out of there.

Don’t give it your best time:  Be careful that you don’t let e-mail become our job.  I limit my access to it, refuse to respond to long e-mails on my phone, turn off the “chime” saying I have new mail, and stuff like that.  Sending e-mail can be done for me just about anytime.  Message prep, meeting with leaders, and stuff like that cannot.  So I can’t use my most productive hours to respond to e-mail.

Unsubscribe like crazy:  If you don’t need it, hit the unsubscribe button on all your flyers and mailers and junk.

Set up accounts for certain things: 
I have a private e-mail I give virtually no one and use often to send myself stuff and reminders. I also use it for social media.

I have another one I use for purchasing and website registrations.

I have a work one.

I have a home or “family” one.

This may seem crazy to you, but it really helps me keep life straight and access to e-mail uncluttered.   Since I can check them all in one location (I use apple mail), it’s way easier for me to not just send everything to one e-mail.

Create personal inboxes and rules for all my direct reports and staff: 
So that no one that is really important in my world get’s lost in the shuffle, I have created folders for most of my ministry team.  Then I create a “rule” under my mail preferences and anytime I get an e-mail from them, it goes directly to their personal box.   Some people use “flags” and “colors”, but I use “personal inboxes”.

This does two things:

(1) it makes it easy to find mail from individuals

(2) it shows me at a glance who has sent me mail.  I’ll have bold face number next to any of their boxes telling me how many e-mails I have from them that I haven’t read just yet.  So if I have 50 unread e-mails, I can tell you immediately how many are from my direct reports and how many are from our lead or executive pastor or etc.

This is super helpful to make sure that the most important stuff gets dealt with first.  Here’s a screen shot of how it looks for me:

File everything:  As soon as an e-mail is dealt with, I either delete it or file it.  If I want to keep a file, I have created TONS of folders in my mail where I can dump stuff.  So there’s a file for “receipts”.  One for every “event” our high school ministry is or has done, etc.  
As a result, I can then easily access all my mail via the issue it was about by simply going to the appropriate file and finding the e-mail I need.  Yes, my e-mail is searchable, but this makes it so much easier to search because I can narrow it down to one file location to search in an instant.  
Here’s a screen shot of some of my files under our high school ministry folder:

Well, hopefully that helps.  Feel free to add your own tricks and create a learning community with us if you want in the comments.  

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