July 20, 2010

Fiddler On the Post by Brenda Leyland

It's my turn to post and even though I've been thinking about what to write for days, Posting Day is suddenly here as if by surprise... again.

I am shaking my head. The crazy thing is that I have had a whole month to work on my article.

So there's no excuse, which makes me wonder, what is my excuse? And why do I end up doing projects that too often hover precariously over deadlines? After some pondering and pencil chewing I uncovered some pieces to my puzzling habit:

1. I put it off until later. After all, I have a whole month to work on it, so I don't need to start today.

2. I don't schedule an actual day or time slot to work on the post. What's not on the schedule is easily put off for another day.

3. I think working under pressure is the norm. After working in a job for many years where urgent adrenaline-high deadlines were the norm, I still believed that I had to work that way in my own life, including my writing life. 

4. I have an undeniable knack for fiddling and diddling, which the dictionary defines as 'to use triflingly, or to spend time aimlessly'. Of course I don't intend to fiddle away an hour, but suddenly 60 minutes has flown by. Yes, my desk is tidier and freer of dust bunnies, but my article is a little light on word count. Oh well, say I, there are three weeks still to finish this.

In the Gospels, I never encountered a time where Jesus was running around like the White Rabbit, saying he's late for his next appointment. He always seemed to be perfectly poised and at the ready for whatever the Father had for him that day. There's no footnotes indicating, Oops, sorry, Father, I was fiddling with Peter's fishing net, so now I don't have time to spend with that man who came to talk about kingdom issues.If Jesus was able to live in control of his time, that means He has given me the ability to do so as well.

I like what Don Nori of Destiny Image Publishing says: "Whatever you do not confront will not change." So, now how does an expert fiddler change her tune? Here's what I have come up with to confront these beastly old habits:

1. Don't fall for the line 'there's lots of time'. Begin early with planning, researching and getting ideas down. We probably have heard of the Parkinson's law that says work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Someone suggested one way to break this habit is to set yourself almost impossibly short time-lines, eg. complete three paragraphs in the next 10 minutes.

2. Block off actual days and times for the project. Pencil it into your schedule. Honour the project by beginning it on the day you've set aside for it.

3. Work on the project little by little so that it doesn't overwhelm. So that it doesn't get to the urgent, rushing stage. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in her book Gift From The Sea, talks about the possibility of living in a balance and rhythm that allows a person to actually experience the joy of 'working without pressure'. That's what I want, and you probably do too. This means asking the Holy Spirit for help to show us how that can be done. To renew our minds and let go of old beliefs that procrastination is good and skidding under the deadline is the norm. To learn how to walk in Kingdom time patterns, and thus, learn how to stay focused on the present day's work -- just like Jesus did.

4. Stay focused on the job at hand. No e-mail checking, no answering the phone, no coffee refills, no rearranging the paper on the side of your desk and sharpening all the pencils in your drawer.

It's quite the challenge for a fiddler. Think we can do it? We'll let you know our progress...


  1. Oh, I hear you! I like the short time frame goal setting idea. I give myself a day, but that's too long. 10 minutes for 3 paragraphs - now that's a challenge!

  2. From one fiddler to another - thanks for the prompt to get me tapping the keys for my own looming deadline.

  3. For a fiddler, you came up with a great post!


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