“How am I going to add another thing to my schedule? What’s the point of social media anyway?” Often, this is the thought that tumbles through the minds of overworked pastors when they look at their overworked Outlook. I mean, who’s got time to tweet when there’s a wedding to plan, a baby to baptize, and a sermon to write?
- Set online office hours. This is an experiment I’ve been conducted off-and-on for the better part of four years. I have set hours where I’ll be in my “office” (a website I’ve setup where people can ask questions and video chat with me), ready to interact with anyone and everyone. You’ll most likely want to pair this with regular office hours, but this is a way to be accessible and still maintain your sanity. For more on office hours, read this post I wrote on my initial findings.
- Set a time-limit on social media. Give yourself five minutes a day to answer as many tweets as you can. Take 15 minutes at the start of each day to update your Facebook status and wish everyone in your congregation a happy birthday. You may not get everyone, but you can get to some. And that counts. All without having to sacrifice your schedule at the social media altar.
- Create an email policy. That’s right, tell people when you’ll be responding to emails. I know folks who have a permanent out-of-office reminder on that says, “I’m answering emails today at 11a and 4p. Please allow 24-48 hours for a response.” The terms can be yours, but be proactive in setting the expectation when you’ll be getting back to people.
- Adopt the “three sentences” rule. Speaking of email, one of my favorite websites is three.sentenc.es. The basic premise? Make your emails short. Like, three-sentences-or-less short. If you need to write a longer email than that, pick up the phone. Brevity is beautiful.
- Observe a “tech Sabbath”. In my house, I stay off social mediums from sun-down on Saturday to 5p on Sunday. It gives me a chance to breath a bit and take in the natural surroundings (i.e. my family, nature, football, etc.) around me. It’s refreshing, to say the least.
- Bonus: Create your own!
As you can see, all of these rules are about proactively setting the terms for which you will interact with technology. Not the other way around. Your life as a pastor is already hectic enough. Don’t let the digital tidal wave crash on your life without a fight. (And wear a poncho, for Pete’s sake!)