In the mid-1980’s, my mother proposed that we as a family should write a book called How Do You Know It’s the Weekend If You Haven’t Worked All Week? This catchy title made sense to 50% of our family (not me) who at the time were struggling to find or keep jobs for various reasons.
Looking at today’s “always on” work culture, I think they would have done cartwheels in the street to have been so employed that work was at the forefront of their minds.
With Labor Day ahead and parish and school years beginning in earnest, turning off the “always on” seems counterintuitive. Sort of like inviting everyone to a party, then closing the doors five minutes before it is going to start (because the party hasn’t started, of course!)
How about we start the 2018-2019 ministry year with a few new and/or better habits.
- You know what to do with your screens. Turn them off at night (no notifications, no nothing.) Keep them in another room, not at your bedside.
- Corollary. Set some screen boundaries, tell your colleagues and students/youth/volunteers what they are, and ENFORCE THEM! Since few ministry professionals clock in or out, use your device as the way to do it. Set a time in the morning when you will start to accept and respond to email and texts, and set one for the end of the day. And make that one at least one hour before bed.
- Take the Monday holiday off. Off. Completely off. No work. Just you, your family and friends. That’s why they call it a holiday.
- On your days off, do one thing for yourself. Make a batch of Christmas cookies in September. Pull some weeds in the yard. Watch a silly movie. Self-care will keep you from burning out and up.
- Second corollary. Do something for someone else. This does not have to be big. Send birthday cards to your closest group of friends. I go to Hallmark and buy them in bulk (get extra points for future purchases!) and my goal is to send the card by the day of the person’s birthday. I’m not perfect about it, but my friends really appreciate it.
Pick one of these. Or pick something else. Just pick something. One small change that helps you turn off the work can bring big changes in your outlook and approach to the ministry that you do the majority of your time.