This is not another moan about overwork. I love my job, or 95% of it, and I love meeting people, and I am deeply blessed and privileged to do what I do. My work, both as a chaplain and as a priest, is endlessly varied and rewarding. I would not exchange it for any other.
Still, seven months in to my new post, I am a little shocked at my inability to keep on top of things. I constantly find I am just about managing to tread water, rather than swimming confidently. Walking on the water is a miracle reserved for my Lord, I think.
This is embarrassing, given I used to teach time management. I used to think it was all a question of setting goals and working towards them, of prioritising ruthlessly, of making space for the important and whipping through emails at breakneck speed. I was right, of course, but I worked in a different way. Work was work, home was home, and I set strong boundaries. I might give the company fifty or more hours during the week, but with few exceptions Saturday and Sunday were for my family and my own refreshment. I need to find different ways of working, ways that accept the unpredictability of the role. I need to cope with having my daughter waving her homework under my nose while I speak to someone on the phone, instead of getting angry because there is not enough of me to simultaneously admire artwork and discuss church finances.
At the same time, it would do the church no harm to learn from some of the techniques I used to apply so ruthlessly. A good project plan, a detailed budget and a critical path analysis are not desirable, they are essential if you are to produce a major piece of work. Many parish ideas drift because they are not project managed, and this leads to more strain, more stress and damaged relationships. The problem is finding the goals. Giving the good news to the poor may be what we are about, but it is an endless project with an eternal goal, and we are human. I find we try to make goals out of the ineffable, setting up committees and searching for what is not to be found. Perhaps I need something altogether different, a new paradigm for work which does not so much balance life and work as make our life our work.
Answers on a postcard please, this one is to be continued when I have more time.