Monday, February 17, 2014

What's next?

The Enneagram work I did on the RevGals Big Event 7.0 (whew - - there were a lot of links there!) has been more and more amazing for me as time goes by.  I'm always kind of interested in these personality things, from Myers Briggs Personality Type to "Which Downton character are you?" (Mr. Bates, in case you care.)  I had heard about the Enneagram, but I didn't really get it the first time around.  More and more, though, in the time leading up to the trip, and I mean even in the 12-18 months before the trip, I have been trying to figure out what makes me tick.  Why do I act the way I do?  Why are some things easy for me that seem like they should be hard, but other things are practically deadening to my soul that seem like they should be easy?  And a LOT of the latter things are things that are pretty important for my vocation as a pastor - you know, like talking to people that I don't really know well or have a purposeful working relationship with or being able to follow through with an idea I dreamed up.  I was getting frustrated with myself (and sensing frustration from some in my congregation) about things that are related to my personality.  The enneagram came at just the right intersection of rising frustrations and my desire for things to be different.  And hey --  A new thing to learn about? "Sounds cool.  I'll try anything once," said your resident 7.

About the 7 - - So, some of the things I learned about myself as a 7 are that I have a hard time following through with things usually because my brain is looking forward to the next thing I can try that might bring enjoyment or excitement.  I am pretty easily distracted.  I love learning about new things and can be legitimately researching for something I need and get pulled into 542 other things that catch my attention and inquisitiveness on the way.  My "sin" is my desire to acquire - experiences, things, knowledge.  Some of those sound worse than others, but ultimately it can be problematic because I use this acquisition to try avoid feeling and dealing with pain.  It is all fascinating.

Somehow knowing that this tendency to be distracted and scattered is part of what makes me me makes it something easier to deal with.  It had been driving me crazy more and more lately, and somehow finding the source of it has given me new energy to try to curb it a little.  I don't want to get rid of it all together, because it's part of who I am, but I do need to put some reins on it in order to live more fully into my calling and family.

So, with that background last night I wrote out a plan for "productivity" that I'm going to try.  I know there are all sorts of systems to read up on or buy into.  They sound great.  But let's be honest, there's no way I'm going to be able to keep my attention on a book telling me how to pay attention.  It's laughable.  So, I'm writing my own and I'm trying it this week.  I have done VERY minimal reading about Pomodoro that I liked, so that certainly has bled into my thoughts and plan somewhat, but otherwise I'm sort of piecing this together on my own.

Here are my "Productivity Principles" I'm trying this week in no particular order:
1.  Only sign into email twice a day (likely 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.) and answer or compose emails for only an hour each time AT MOST.  This might mean making more phone calls to try to cut down on stupid email time.
2.  9:00-9:30 is for making my daily to-do list and making sure it includes the reminders that are already programmed on my phone.  Part of making the to-do list is prioritizing the order of the events.
3.  Set non-negotiable times for things that need to happen away from the church building (hospital visits, other errands).
4.  Use Pomodoro 25 minute work periods and 5 minutes "rest" periods to work through the list.  This even applies to the 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. email hours.
5.  Facebook and internet use are only OK during the 5 minute rests, except for when it comes to sermon prep days when I hit the preaching blogs and FB groups. This is going to be hard to navigate, but I'll try it out more tomorrow.
6.  This is sort of based on a Pomodoro thing - - When an interruption has to occur, I will need to decide immediately if it's time sensitive enough to deal with on the spot or if it can just be added to the list in an appropriate spot.  If it needs to be dealt with, I've got to not let myself get derailed by it entirely so I can come back to the plan.
7.  I've got to try to keep a clean office.
8.  One thing at a time.  If I think of another thing that also needs to be done, write it down, and prioritize it a the next break.  One thing at a time.

So that's the plan for a little while.  I'm going to try to work it and tweak it and see how it goes.  Some of it seems ridiculously normal for the rest of the world, but for me it's going to be new.

A question I have for which I am seeking input, particularly for minister-types, but maybe there's more overlap with other vocations than I'm imagining - - How do you decide "what's next"?  What helps set your priorities for the day or week?  A couple criteria I'm sort of bouncing around right now that relate to my 7-ness and some growing edges I need to work on:
1.  Is someone else waiting for me to finish my piece so they can do their piece?
2.  What tasks will help me make and nurture personal connections with other people?

Enneagram photo credit: Grace Commons (Wicker Park Grace) via photopin cc

Clocks photo credit: FJTUrban (sommelier d mojitos) via photopin cc


Catherine MacDonald said...

The thing that I do that helps the most is to coordinate the times of the day when I feel the most energized, creative etc. with the large pieces of work, such as planning worship for a season, or working on a presentation. For me that's the morning.

The other thing I do is make sure I have something in my day that I can 'finish' no matter how small that thing is, just so that I have a feeling of accomplishment.

MaryAnn said...

Don't know if you have access to (or interest in) O Magazine, but Martha Beck's article this month is about this topic of focus and follow-through.

In a quest to be playful and self-deprecating she calls some of these tendencies "flaky." I don't think we need to apply that judgment to it. But the article was interesting.