I don't know if it's the age - pushing 50, people, and how did THAT happen? - or the season or a combination of both, but I've been intentional about building a lot of margin into my schedule for the past few weeks. Rather than plan meeting after meeting after meeting and pile things onto my plate, I've built a lot of vague and general hours into the work week.
Our staff sends out our schedules to one another at the beginning of the week. It helps us pray for each other, gives us a sense of what's going on around us and helps us know how to find one another and what to expect. For the past two weeks, I've had several blocks of time that simply say, "working from home".
When I plan this time, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Maybe I can multi-task while I'm writing charts. I can have a load of laundry in while I reply to emails. I can make phone calls to musicians while I make the bed." Because there is such a limited amount of time in my day; I have so many things to juggle, it seems.
So planning to get a lot done seems prudent.
But here's the truth: the laundry is undone, the dishes stay in the sink and life goes on as usual at our house (meaning we all chip in and nothing's perfect, but it gets done). And what happens with those vague, unplanned "working-from-home" hours is this: I have time to take a phone call from someone in crisis. And then I have time to go meet them for coffee. I connect with a musician who has gotten stuck in his spiritual life, who needs a little encouragement and truth-telling. I discover some awesome new music that will be a great fit for our Christmas services. I answer the phone instead of letting it go to voice mail.
And in my heart, I have compassion for people. I have time to care.
Being that I am called to care, led into ministry as a vocation, this is a rather important thing.
So here it is: it really feels weird to build specific time into my work week in which I plan to do nothing. And yet it has proven to be the most effective and meaningful time of my work week. And probably the most productive.