Last year I found myself overcommitted. I routinely worked into the evenings and weekends to try to get everything done.
One thing helped to restore sanity to my schedule. It’s probably the most helpful action I took last year. I started scheduling an Uninterruptible Day.
I work in a small church without a lot of administrative help. I also work quarter-time in training church planters. I face more demands than I have time.
I’d often get asked if I was free for a meeting, or I would take on another task. My tendency is to try to shoehorn commitments where they can fit. My schedule began to look like an overstuffed box that was ready to break.
I heard a podcaster talk one day about Tiger Time. “This is the part of my day that I fiercely protect (like a tiger and her cub!) in order to give myself the time and space to create my BEST content.” When she sacrificed this time for other things, she suffered, and so did her work.
In my case, I needed to carefully guard my sermon preparation time, as well as time for long-term thinking. If I didn’t protect these priorities, they would get lost in the flurry of demands and meetings that crowd my calendar.
Scheduling Uninterruptible Days
I opened my calendar, and I created a recurring appointment with myself called “Uninterruptible Day.” On that day I take no meetings. I use that day for two priorities only: for preparing my sermon, and for planning.
If someone asks for an appointment that day, I tell them I already have an appointment. I don’t tell them what the appointment is, because it looks like blank space to everyone but me. I simply offer them another time to meet.
The downside is that it takes a lot longer to meet with me. I tend to be scheduled weeks in advance. It’s worth it, though, because I really need this day.
If I can’t avoid a meeting that day, then I reassign the Uninterruptible Day to another day of the week. I can move it, but I can’t miss it.
I can think of a couple of times when I slipped an appointment into the Uninterruptible Day last year. It demolished my week. I’ve learned that I need to protect this time and that if I don’t, my important but not urgent work will suffer.
What I’ve Learned
When I lose control over my schedule, it’s a sign that I’m losing control over my life. It affects the state of my soul, my relationships, and my effectiveness.
I must carefully guard my important but not urgent priorities by blocking off time in my calendar. I’ve previously done this by guarding my mornings, but blocking off a whole day is another way to do this.
When I compromise on this, the price is high. I’m learning to be vigilant in guarding my sermon preparation and long-term planning time.
The busier we get, the more important it is that we protect the time and space we need to accomplish our most important work.