Thursday, July 6, 2017

Don't live on autopilot

In yesterday's post I quoted a statement I discovered in a book I am reading. The statement reminded us to not waste our lives living below our potential and outside our calling. That reminded me of another quote from another book I recently completed, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. The statement is

We spend much of our day on autopilot - not giving much thought to what we're doing with our time...It's difficult to prevent the trivial from creeping into every corner of your schedule if you don't face, without flinching, your current balance between deep and shallow work, and then adopt the habit of pausing before action and asking, "What makes the most sense right now?"

The strategy the author suggests may sound extreme. He recommends that you schedule every minute of your day, and that you do that every day. While I certainly agree with his emphasis on intentional living, I have two problems with this solution. One, no schedule is going to be accurate. Some things are going to take longer than you anticipated, and some things will go quicker. When that happens the author recommends revising the schedule. I would think we would spend too much time revising schedules!

The second problem I have is that interruptions are going to occur, especially for those of us in ministry. People are going to call and need to speak to us. Interruptions are part of ministry, and there is no way to plan for them. That's why they are called interruptions.

I am a big believer in scheduling our time, but I do so around tasks. There are certain times of each day when I need to accomplish certain tasks. For instance, on Monday morning I go into the church office and prepare my preaching outline for the following Sunday and prepare the PowerPoint presentation that will be used. That presentation is then sent to our office manager so she has the entire week to get it ready for our computer system. On Thursday mornings I go into the church office and prepare my Sunday evening Bible study.

In a couple of weeks I have a large auction scheduled, and I've identified days in my schedule when I need to complete the various tasks associated with conducting an auction. I know what dates I will send in my newspaper ads, the date I will mail out flyers to my regular buyers, when I will begin preparing the items for auction, etc. I don't try to schedule every minute, but I do schedule the various tasks I need to complete for all that I do. Incidentally, the author also recognizes the value of block scheduling for those who are not comfortable with trying to schedule every minute.

Living our lives according to a schedule eliminates the possibility of living on autopilot and ensures we will get done what we need to accomplish. This is critically important for anyone involved in bivocational ministry, but it's also important for anyone who wants to fulfill God's calling on their lives.

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