Procrastination, Thy Name is Pastor!

Monday! Yay!

I am going to be doing my best to take today off. I managed to put in more than 40 hours last week (theoretically, I’m part-time, at 20 hours a week). So I slept in, read my email in a leisurely fashion, browsed through some blogs, took the trivia quiz, and had a lazy breakfast, including finishing a book I want to give my mother. I’ve started the laundry, too.

According to the church musician, who also plays for a local Presbyterian church, this is the year of the Sabbath (at least for Canadian Presbyterians; the rest of us may be out of luck). Well, darn it, I’m going to do my best to take part in this whole Sabbath thing! That’s taking a day to rest, right?

Can someone explain that to me?

I’m sure trying it today. Oh, I’m not totally ignoring the church—this time of year there’s too much going on, between Advent and Christmas preparations, our congregation’s annual meeting (yesterday and it went well, thank you), and preparing for next year (yes, I really am still working on the readings—more on that in a moment). But I’m using it for things that I’ll enjoy doing, that I want to do—that and professional reading. I have a stack of articles and books about a foot high, and I think if I take this afternoon and work on it, I could reduce it to eight inches.

What I think I’m discovering is that I have to do a little bit on everything everyday. If I wait to do something, or put it off in favour of something else I’d rather do, it backs up and becomes a huge chore. Sort of like cleaning the refrigerator, another chore I have to work on doing regularly… So, for the sermon, for example, instead of selecting my reading on Tuesday, doing all my research and rough draft on Friday, or Saturday, and polishing on Sunday morning (on a good week), I want to have the reading already chosen, and possibly the call to worship as well. Then Tuesday I take notes, Wednesday I pull some themes together, Thursday and Friday I write, and if I need to, then I’ve got Saturday as well. If I take half-an-hour every day to read an article, or to make a couple of phone calls, then it won’t be so overwhelming. Little bits at a time, you know?

Part of this plan for the new year is the scheme I talked about at the Saturday sermon party. For those of you who had prior commitments, my plan is to put together a schedule/calendar of the readings I’ll use for the year (or at least the first six months), including reminders for events like the church’s anniversary, membership classes (and thus reception of new members), Sundays I would like to take off, Sundays when we could have a guest preacher (besides when I’m gone), and so on. A partner plan to this is one I’ve mentioned a mentoring pastor had—she took two days or so every three months and wrote out outlines for her sermons for the next three months. That way, she had at least an outline, if everything fell apart one week (a funeral, three members in the hospital, six meetings and a partridge in a pear tree). If it didn’t fall apart, she had a reward for planning ahead, and if she wanted to, she could completely redo it. But in case of an emergency, she at least had something.

And I think that’s a big chunk of being able to rest, really rest on a day off--peace of mind. I know part of the reason I have a hard time taking a day of rest is that I keep thinking of all the things I could be doing, that need to be done, that only I can do. Right now, I have the schedule, minutes from a community meeting I attended last week, and preparations for a meeting tonight in my mind as things to do this morning. If I can get into the mindset of doing things a little at a time, then they won’t be so overwhelming and I won’t procrastinate so much. And if I can get things done a bit ahead, then I won’t feel so much pressure and so much anxiety.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. For now, anyway. Of course, the other question is, how in the world do I find the time to get ahead? Little bits, right?

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