Taking time to transition

I love my lists and my Google calendar. They make my chaotic life feel manageable(ish). Still, there are times when the to-dos meld into  asinglerunontask and events overlap. That’s when my brain kicks into hyperdrive, my eyes dart around my desk, and my heart picks up the pace. I’m TCBing, with output of questionable quality. I’m everywhere at once, but nowhere fully present. Maybe you can relate.

I confess that I sometimes I sing “I’m Every Woman” to myself with whiff of pride. But it’s not always (often? ever?) good to be every woman at every moment. I don’t want to be mentally running through research while eating dinner with my family. I’m not my best self as a leader if I’m sketching my sermon outline during a committee meeting. It’s hard to give good pastoral care to someone who is grieving when I’m still coming down off a tense conversation with a colleague. Yes, there are times when I have to manage multiple responsibilities, but not as often as I try to.

Hence the need for transitions: into and out of my workday, from one task to another, between conversations that require emotional awareness and sharp mental focus. Anytime a shift in mindset is warranted, I’ve got to take a moment to close one internal file and open the next. This transition allows me to consider how I want to show up for the situation I’m about to enter and to re-center myself so that I can live toward those intentions.

There are any number of ways I make the shift – sometimes more successfully than at other times, I admit. Taking deep breaths to re-set my brain. Jotting down notes about what I’ve been doing so that I can fully set that work aside and come back to it later. Doing a couple of quick yoga poses or pilates exercises. Shutting my eyes for five minutes (making sure to set an alarm!). Queueing up the playlists I’ve created for settling down and amping up. Turning over loose threads to God and asking for awareness and guidance going into whatever is next on the agenda. Taking a lap around the building.

What are the ways you transition from one task or event to the next, or even into and out of your day? Where do you need to build in a couple of minutes on the front and/or back end of your to-dos so that you can fully be you – insightful, compassionate, prophetic, gifted you – as a pastor and a person?

Creative Commons image “bridge” by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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