Sunday, October 11, 2009

Control Your Calendar

I went from high school, to college, to serving a church while in college, and directly to seminary.  The first September when I did not have to go to school anywhere was a shocker.  It wasn't  until November that my school clock finally wound down and stopped ringing.  It was weird.  The initial months after becoming a DS was similar.  I didn't have to get up and go to church or write a sermon.  Wow!! What an experience after 34 years of the 7 day cycle.  And yes, I go to church on Sunday.  Sometimes I preach.  Sometimes I am just part of the congregation.

Freedom has a price.  The price for the DS is  the many demands and interruptions that are part of the job.  It was tough controlling my calendar in the local church.  It is more challenging as a DS, even though you have greater freedom to say, "No" and "Wait" to persons.  I struggle to control my calendar, especially my personal time with God,  my wife and our kids.  I learned long ago that the church, life and the world can survive without me for periods of time.  It did before I got on the scene, it is surviving me being on the scene, and will continue to do so until Jesus comes.

My wife would chuckle and tell you I am a work in progress when it comes to controlling my calendar and response to interruptions.  But I know that time is one of the most precious gifts that I give myself and the people I love.  There are no second chances for time lost.   Here are some drafts of my progress.

1.  I block a day a week as the day off.  Only life, death, or legal emergencies break it.  Additionally, when a schedule is unusually full, such as in Charge Conference season(the annual church meeting season), I work additional  days in with my wife and family.  On a paper calendar, they are marked off in red.  In Outlook, they have a red designation.  If I have to do something on a Friday, I take another day.  When projecting out meetings and schedules, I review the calendar with my wife and we block us the "us" times that we need to plan for.

2.  The worst personal time killers are my cell phone and my DS laptop.  On my day off, or time with my wife, I usually (not always) leave it home.  I don't find turning it off helpful for two reasons.  First, if I turn it off to protect your day, why have it with me in the first place?  Second, I usually don't need an excuse to turn it on just to check.  If I have my laptop, I will check my DS mail.  It's like chocolate covered peanuts in a bowl on the table.  It's there, and you are always just taking "one" and "one" and "one".

3.  I purchased a small, inexpensive netbook for my personal use.  Rarely do I do any DS stuff on it.  I have my Google account on it and that is fine.  I will do Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. there.  That's my stuff.
I did purchase a cheap cell phone on my wife's account and usually have it with me.  Only my family has the number.  Sometimes, we just take hers.

4.  I carve out Thanksgiving week, the week after Christmas and Easter as my renewal time with my family.    I take my vacations.  I keep the two weeks prior to Christmas as light as possible.  I don't schedule anything that can wait.  I don't miss special events such as births, graduations, etc.  I only cancel planned family time and activities for emergencies.

5.  My wife holds me accountable which means that there are times I have to apologize and ask her forgiveness.  I don't take her patience and love for granted.  She is my biggest supporter, my best friend, and I love her.

6.  I typically don't take preaching engagements in July or August.  Occasionally I will cover for a pastor in the Course of Study (a summer educational program for licensed pastors).

What do you do to control your calendar and protect your time?  Send me a comment.

Blessings.  Bill

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