Making changes

I tried something different during our recent vacation. I adjusted the settings on my phone so that it wasn’t giving me notifications of meetings and events that were scheduled, but in which I would not be taking part because I was on vacation. As I have done in previous years, I also turned off my daily alarm. I would rise at whatever point I woke, write my journal and then go back to bed and sleep - sometimes for two or more hours. Because we traveled to Japan, my schedule was somewhat disrupted, but I continued to be able to be awake during the day. Caring for an infant affords opportunities to doze while rocking the baby and I would sneak short naps into my day, but for the most part slept at night and was awake during the day.

Upon our return, I turned on all of the notifications and the alarm. Even though today is a week from our flight home from Japan, my body still isn’t quite synchronized with the clock yet. I’ve been walking up several times during the night. I know from experience that my system will soon catch up and I’ll be back into the routine of daily life here at home.

What was interesting to me about the process of using various features of my phone was the calendar display. I’m sure that there are other ways to turn off notifications, but the technique I used was to turn off the synchronization of various different calendars that I have in my phone. This resulted in the calendar on my phone not displaying the events in calendars that I turned off. Normally, I have the building use calendar for our church turned on and events in the building display. I have a separate calendar for meetings in the church and a different one for meetings in the community, etc. Temporarily turning off the calendars left me with a display on my phone that was empty. Whereas I am normally used to a day showing multiple events and many overlapping events, I would launch the calendar on my phone and took at a day and it would be empty.

Now that I am back, I’ve turned on all of the calendars and multiple events are displayed. I’ve even managed to give myself duplicate events from multiple calendars. I’m sure it is a minor adjustment in my settings, but at the moment, my daily calendars are filled with events and activities. Looking ahead a couple of weeks, there are some days that are really full. It is a big change from the vacation days that displayed “no events scheduled.”

Of course the technology is just a device that helps me keep track of activities. It isn’t the events themselves. On vacation, even thought there were “no events scheduled” our lives were filled with all kinds of wonderful events. Trains in Japan run on precise schedules. We had to be at the station and on the right platform at exactly the right time. We did not rent a car during our visit so our daughter or son in law had to pick us up and drop us off. We set times for meeting and kept to our schedule. We visited museums that have regular hours. We attended events that had starting and ending times. We set our watches and referred to them from time to time.

The big difference between vacation time and work time in terms of schedule is that during our vacation we didn’t schedule overlapping events. We planned our time so that we did one thing at a time. This gave us the freedom of not having to structure each minute. We could be flexible because we were shifting only one thing in our lives. When I need to do that in my regular schedule, it creates a chain reaction. Moving one thing means needing to adjust another. Most of the time I do this intuitively without much conscious thought, but there are times when i find myself pulled two directions at the same time. We all have to make priority decisions and choose between conflicting events.

Today, starting a new week, I’m a bit nostalgic for those vacation days with no events scheduled. This week is going to be busy and I will need to be alert to keep all of the appointments and events in mind so that I am at the right place at the right time.

One of my goals for the year to come is to simplify my schedule. I’m a bit overcommitted. There are some boards and committees on which I serve that need to discover new leadership. There are things where I’ve exerted control where I don’t need to be in charge. There are events that will occur perfectly without my participation. This is one of the lessons of a vacation. The world doesn’t revolve around me and my schedule. Other people can take responsibility for activities and events. Part of genuine leadership is learning to step aside and allow other leaders to emerge. There are a lot of areas in the life of the church where I have fallen into the role of enabling. That isn’t a bad thing. It has allowed the church to have a host of different programs and ministries and to expand its reach into the community. The time has come, however, for the church to begin imagining its life and ministries beyond the span of the time when I am the pastor.

Right now, as I am in the process of getting up to speed with the busy routines of work life, a a simplified schedule seems attractive. I accomplish more when I focus on one task at a time. I can’t really imagine a time when I would have nothing to do or when I would be looking for events to fill my day. Just cutting back a bit has a great deal of appeal.

Making real changes is more than adjusting the settings on my phone. As we go forward, I will need to adjust my attitude along with the ways I use my calendar.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!