While on vacation last week I spent some time thinking about how I use my time. It seems that my schedule is packed pretty much every week and I need to be a good manager of my time. I still use an old fashioned day planner (glad Staples hasn't stopped carrying these things) and on Monday evening or Tuesday morning I plug my meetings, tasks and projects into the schedule.
Additionally, I've been reading a couple of time management books a friend gave me. There isn't much there that I haven't already read or tried to practice at one time or another. What I found particularly helpful was the encouragement to determine your peak times for work, those time segments during the day when you can be your most effective.
For me, it's the morning hours leading up to lunch time. I feel fresh and most creative when I arrive at the office. Then, for some reason, I get a second wind sometime between 4-5 pm - when most people are getting ready to leave for home.
With this insight I planned this week to keep the mornings to myself for sermon and Bible study preparation and for working on a few projects I'm responsible for. After lunch I planned to schedule meetings and take care of the administrative things that are usually fairly easy to manage.
During my sermon preparation time between 9 and noon yesterday I was interrupted three times by people who had to talk with me. Some folks came by at noon just as I was ready to eat lunch. Trying to play catch up in the afternoon was difficult because of more folks "just stopping by" or calling on the phone.
I sat at my desk thinking, "I could get some work done if it weren't for all these interruptions!"
But then I took a few minutes to think about all of these interruptions. In nearly every case these interruptions were actually people who needed their pastor. Needed my counsel. Needed my advice. Needed me to listen as they spoke about their troubles. Needed someone to pray with them.
A pastor friend once said to me, "George, ministry is a people business." And he was right. Ministry is all about people. Isn't that where we find Jesus? He didn't work out of an office. He spent His time connecting with people. Hearing their requests. Responding to their pleas. Offering a healing touch. Giving a Word of hope.
Those few moments of introspection put everything into perspective. Yes, plan your work and then work your plan. Use your time wisely and try to get the most you can out of each day. But don't be surprised by the interruptions. They're a part of the job. Maybe the most important part.