Five years ago, I was running my own business, had recently started leading a church and had three kids under the age of five. I was living day-to-day, in a constant state of “fire-fighting”, neglecting my family, really busy but not moving forward in any of my endeavours. In my last blog The Fine Art of Fathering, I wrote about the day I broke:
5 years ago on a week-long vacation at the lake with my family, I found myself telling my boy “I can’t fish now. I have to go to work”. And if this was the first time or even just a short season I would have been easier on myself. But this was the 3rd year in a row that my wife and kids had planned for a great week with me. No phone, email or work. And for the 3rd year in a row, they were disappointed.
It wasn’t just those weeks in the summer that I repeatedly said, “Not right now, I need to find some wi-fi”. It was in the day-to-day running of my business, our home… really, our lives. The lack of planning mixed with the inability to say no to projects or things in our church community made for a life that was less lived and more just reacting to each moment.
Something had to change and fast! I had a system, don’t get me wrong, but an ineffective one that consisted of me scheduling my day around emails I received and the post-it notes I never got to the day before. I was tired, frustrated and without hope. Then comes the part of the story where everything changed. I met a dear friend, father in the faith and great encouragement to our church, @Jeremy Simpkins. He told me about a system he’d been using for years that had been shared with him many years earlier, by a Christian businessman.
It’s a system that works for those of us that have what are called “lifestyle jobs“. Jobs that require more than clocking-in and clocking-out and forgetting about work everyday after 5. A “lifestyle job” is one that often requires nights of work, overnight trips and weekends of work at times. Jobs that require more than 9 to 5. Whether you own your own business, lead a church, are a mother (that’s a huge lifestyle job!) or some combination of all of the above, your work isn’t neatly compartmentalized.
It goes like this: Each day break into 3 parts, time that you spend awake. I break those into 7am-12 noon, 12 noon-5pm, and 5pm to 11pm. With those three segments on each day of the week we find we end up with 21 segments in a week. 3 segments a day times 7 days a week equals 21 segments in your week. For those of us in lifestyle jobs, in each of those segments we find at different times in our week we have to work in each of those 3 segments of the day. We now take those 21 segments in the week and plan for 7 of them to be off time. And 3 of them must be back-to-back, giving you a day off or Sabbath rest. Those 3 back-to-back segments could be Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon and then work Saturday night if need be or a full day.
This system has really helped me to have a grid to ensure I’m spending enough time at home with my family, ensure I’m getting rest and recharging, and gives me a structure to plan my work weeks. In the past years since implementing this God- sent system, I have great time with my family during the year, uninterrupted time of fishing with my boys on holidays and I’ve seen huge steps forward in accomplishing the things I’m called to do.
I’m going to be spending the next few weeks unpacking what this looks like and hopefully help us live on purpose.