There are a couple questions I hear pretty frequently. The first one is what do you do with all of your time? The assumption being that a pastor’s workweek is generally unaccounted for and completely unsupervised so people get curious. The second question, which seems contradictory to this first question but is actually a separate question, is, how do you get so much done? The assumption behind this question being that a minister's job is demanding and varied along with me being a mom and writer.
The quick answer, which I will elaborate through my schedule is time blocking and setting up a routine. Time blocking has saved my life and has made me exponentially more productive. There are many different ways to time block from the Pomodoro Technique to the 90 minute Pulse or something in between. I've used both along with other time blocking methods and love it.
Setting up a schedule is another key strategy for my productivity. Ministers are not typical 9 to 5 employees because we work weekends, nights, sometimes even waking up to middle of the night calls and responsibilities. So it is incredibly easy for me to be "working" without really getting anything done at all. After a few years of experimenting and tinkering, I've settled upon a schedule that really works well for me, my family and my church. Here it is:
My Average Weekday
5 a.m. I wake up. By the way, I never ever used to be an early bird. And then, I had a baby, who woke me up at all hours but even after he was sleep trained, I kept waking up early and liked it because it enabled me to get some good writing done during these hours while the rest of the world still slept. I have come to cherish these early morning hours so very much because it’s my only precious me-time each day.
So I wake up, make and eat breakfast, do some prayer through journaling or chanting a Taize song, and then work on my most recent writing project like an upcoming sermon, article, essay, etc.
7:15 a.m. I wake up my darling son. It’s my favorite thing in the entire world to go into his room and see his half-opened eyes while he whispers, “mama”. I then smell his morning baby breath and give him a big hug. I change his clothes and feed him some breakfast while I prepare his lunch for school. We have an open kitchen so I talk to him while I cook and he eats. My husband usually sleeps a little later because he’s a major night owl and gets most of his writing done at night (he’s a Ph.D. student).
8:15 a.m. My husband walks our son over to preschool and drops him off while I get ready to go to the church office or a meeting if I scheduled one for the morning.
9 .m. - 12 p.m. Work, work, work through meetings, emails, planning, appointments, etc. If I'm lucky, I'll be doing some of this work at a local coffee shop.
Noon - 4 p.m. I grab some lunch and try very hard to keep my afternoons flexible so I can fit in a nap if I can. But most days, I have to run errands, do some visitations, or have one-on-one appointments with congregants or community members.
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. My son wakes up from his nap around 4 p.m. so my husband and I take turns hanging out with the kid and we usually have some sort of scheduled fun activity like going to the beach, a play date, the park or the pool. Whoever is not watching him is usually in charge of making dinner.
6:30 p.m. Family dinner. We always eat dinner as a family.
7 p.m. Bath time if he needs it or we go on a little family evening walk and get him ready for his bedtime routine, which begins at 8 p.m. My husband usually takes care of his bedroom routine while I clean up the kitchen and then do my own bedtime routine. On the evenings that I have a church meeting or church gathering, my husband takes over from this point onward.
9 p.m. On days that I do not have any evening meetings or gatherings, I’m usually in my pajamas in my bed reading something or chatting with my husband about the day and by
10 p.m. Hopefully, I’m asleep!
That’s a little snapshot of my typical weekday. Weekends are an ENTIRELY different story as church happens on Sunday and most people have funerals or weddings on Saturdays. In any case, I'm very happy with this schedule that I have created for myself over the years but you may have noticed missing items. Like...I don't really exercise. This is one of those things that just dropped off my priorities list when I had my son. I'm trying to figure out a way to bring it back eventually...or not. We'll see.
Finally, as much as I love schedules, I also love breaking them with VACATIONS, which leads me to share that I will be on vacation for the next couple weeks so I won’t be blogging, emailing or anything of the sort. I am SO EXCITED because it’s been a busy and stressful month with starting a new job and moving to San Diego. Better than a vacation is a vacation that feels deserved. We are heading out to Minneapolis for my husband’s good friend’s wedding, then meeting up with a couple of friends to relax at Cape Cod and then, we are off to my sister-in-law’s wedding extravaganza. I say extravaganza because it’s like three full days of partying it up. I’m stoked.
See you when I get back and safe travels to all of you if you're doing some summer traveling as well.