Build It Backwards

Build It Backwards: How To Budget Your Time and Ensure Your Team’s Success

Ephesians 5:15-16: Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


Have you ever felt like the days are evil?  I would probably agree that they are, if they ever hung around long enough for me to find out.  I cannot count the times that I have realized that what felt like Tuesday was actually Wednesday.  Or, the number of weeks I would have welcomed one more workday.  Let’s face it, we all have busy seasons and we all have weeks that get away from us.  And until someone figures out how to sneak extra hours into the space-time-continuum without raising any suspicion, we are going to have to figure out how to budget our time.


Since I am no Time Mage myself, I decided I needed to figure out a way to make sure my schedule allowed for my team and I to be prepared for each Sunday.  The only way I could figure out my schedule was by building it backwards.


I fully recognize that in our teams often are waiting on things from us so that they can start to prepare their week as well.  So when I look at budgeting my time, I am also looking at the amount of prep-time that is required for my team as well.   For instance: if I am asking for our musicians to come to rehearsal already having learned their part, then I need to make sure that the music is out far enough in advance for them to meet that expectation.  If we have not done a particular song before, I may need even more time to make click tracks and charts that match the song arrangement.  When you start blocking out the actual time needed not only to get your work done but also to allow you team to action on it, you find that the only way to have things run smoothly is to be planned out in advance.


Time is very much the currency of life.  And budgeting your time is very much like a budgeting a household checkbook.  We budget things monthly and review them weekly.  Are there any big ticket items coming up? Christmas comes around late December every year, right?!  Budget for that stuff early.  Get ahead if you have to so that come your busy season you do not end up behind.


While these are just some of the guidelines we use to budget time in terms of music prep, hopefully they will help you gauge the time you need for your week.


If I am making a chord chard for a fairly standard worship song (you know, the one with the same four chords as the last chord chart I made), it is probably going to take me an hour if I want it to be right.  This is too much time when you can buy mostly right chord charts for a few bucks these days.  I do not type these up unless I have too!


If I am rehearsing a band with average musicians that I expect to come prepared knowing their parts we budget about 15 minutes of rehearsal time per a song.  I am no TI-85 graphing calculator, but all things being equal I know a 4-song worship set takes an hour rehearsal and 30 minute run-through to have everyone feeling comfortable.  Again the exchange rate may be different in your village.


Am I making a Click Track for a song?  Are there any ritards that I need to include? If yes, I’m probably asking someone from churchtechstuff to help me do it.  If no, it’s going to take me about 5 minutes to match the tempo.  More time if it’s one of those Passion tunes that decides to go from 3/4 to 4/4 every other bar.


Am I creating any playback elements, drum loops, string and synth hooks, etc.?  These take time to make sound good!  It usually takes a whole day for me to rough track a song out including a “cue” track.


If I am asking a volunteer to vocally lead a song they do not know, I need to give them at least a two weeks heads up.  This may be different for your team, but I find any less time and I regret not telling them earlier.


We ask our band to put in an hour to review the songs before the rehearsal and again before the service.  Assuming the average 20-30mins of practice musicians should put in a day (your musicians practice right?), I need to make sure I have the set list to them at least 4 days in advance.  That means all the charts, mp3s, click tracks, knowing who is singing what, and everything else is ready to go.


With all of these budget guidelines, here is what my week looks like:


Monday:  Contact the singers that are singing two weeks out, make sure they are comfortable leading the songs.  Contact this week’s musicians and singers providing any last minute notes for the songs so that come Wednesday’s rehearsal we are all on the same page.

Tuesday: Make sure charts and mp3s are uploaded to PlanningCenterOnline for Next Week’s Band.

Wednesday: Load Computer with playback elements and click tracks (I would have created these last week).  Rehearsal (remember everything else was already loaded up last week Tuesday.)

Thursday: Create any playback or click tracks for next week’s music set.

Friday:  write a blog entry for CreativeTeamStuff

Saturday:  DAY OF REST! I’m probably catching reruns of StarTrek: TNG

Sunday: Sound-Check and then worship gathering.


So here is the take away: Budget your time! People are depending on you to lead them and grow them, not just show up with everything done last minute and being expected to catch up.  Really assess how long things take you to get done.  Maybe you are slow or maybe they just a really take a long time.  The important part is making sure you are looking far enough out that not only you can get your work done, but your team can as well.


How do you plan out your week?

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>