Mood Management? Ministry By Mood? Moody Leadership?

This may be the first time I've admitted this publicly (but most people who know me know this is true...even if I've never really proclaimed it), but I have given up on the concept of time management. My ministry world simply spins too fast, has too many variables, is too unpredictable and relies on other people far too much to hold a hard line when it comes to scheduling my time. Of course I still plan my week and make a list of tasks, meetings, projects etc. that must be accomplished, but I rarely force those items into a neat little time slot on my calendar.

What I've learned about myself over the years is that I can be rather "moody" from day to day. I'm not talking about grumpy, feisty, short-tempered etc. but moody when it comes to the various roles of ministry. Some days I "feel" creative and other days I "feel" a bit more reflective. Some days after lunch I feel like tackling some tough issues and other days after lunch I feel like tackling a pillow! There I times when I am just simply in the mood to spend time with a volunteer or two and there are times when I am in the mood to work on the budget. Sometimes I'm in the mood to write and sometimes I'm in the mood to read.

Because this is how I'm wired, I've decided to quit feeling guilty about being a poor time manager. For example, the pressure to write my lesson from 1:00 - 4:00 every Wednesday afternoon is paralyzing to me so I no longer schedule my lesson writing time. I know that my lesson has to be complete by Thursday afternoon so I will write it any time before then that I "feel" like writing a lesson.

Of course there are ALWAYS things that I don't feel like doing, that I'm not in the mood for, that have to be done and for those things I force myself to fit them into a time slot on my schedule so they aren't neglected.

The upside to this strategy: I feel like I am usually doing projects and working on things that feel important, engaging or satisfying at the moment.

The downside to this strategy: It can be frustrating to those I work with who do appreciate tighter scheduling or rely on me to meet deadlines of their own. Those who work close to me have learned to give me deadlines that are firm, but far enough away to allow me flexibility.

I'm sure, as is the case with so many things, there is some sort of really good compromise. I would imagine that the most productive people are those people who are good at, and committed to, proper time management but are also flexible and can adjust whenever they need or want to...I'm just not in the mood to try to figure that out!


Nathaniel Dame said...

Wow you really described that well. Couldn't agree more! I used to get real stressed about how I thought I should manage my time. Mood Management makes a lot of sense.

Of course there's a risk too. You should be cautious because many times, especially in ministry, you NEED to do what you don't FEEL like doing--like having a hard conversation with a student or parent.

David Moss said...

Yikes, I felt like you were describing my approach to "time management". I have slowly learned that the forming of and ideas for messages that I share come in funny ways - lots of times while I am jogging, or shopping, etc. I rarely am able to "schedule" my creative process. I also have days where I just remove myself and go to the arboretum and "process" stuff.

I do set a goal of trying to be sure to have face to face contact with at least one person outside of my family most days. Being a stay at home dad, it can be tempting to never leave the house and actually interact with others...especially if you tend to be an introvert at heart!

I have become more and more aware of the "rhythms" that God has placed in my heart and try to embrace them...but it takes intentional listening and follow through. And it gets messy....

Kate said...

whew - someone like me - in this respect - freeing

Will Penner said...

I love this idea, bro. Fifteen years ago, I taught time management seminars--first in high schools to students, then teachers and administrators, and later in businesses and churches.

I talked a lot about trying not to schedule the task lists into time slots if possible--to keep task lists and appointment calendars separate--precisely due to the variability needs you describe. The downside of others' frustrations due to our missing deadlines, though, is probably the largest blight on my professional life even today.

Looking forward to hearing more about that as you develop your thinking, my friend.

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