I wrote yesterday a bit about how I work bi-occupationally (I have two occupations and one vocation – my vocation is “christian” or “Christ follower” if you like that term better).

One of the challenges of working this way is knowing where to draw lines and boundaries. Both these jobs can be demanding of your time at all hours of the day and I have learned that it take major discipline to manage tasks, responsibilities and priorities well. Discipline was not something I majored in in college so this has been a challenge! There two practices that I started this week to help with this challenge and I am pretty sure I have been 100% more productive and responsible to needs of the church and of my clients. Also, I feel so much better about my work hours than I ever have before.

Here are my two “simple” practices…

Defined work hours:

I have never set defined work hours for my jobs before. I tended to be more responsive to needs as they arose no matter what time of day it was or even what day it was. This was not a very good approach. I would find that I would be less productive and focused during this time and I had a hard time meeting deadlines. I would also often find myself with 10 tasks for my freelance buisness and a sermon to finish writing on a Friday afternoon.

So, what I have started this week is the following schedule:
7:30am – 12:30pm is dedicated to web design.
1:00pm – 6:00pm is dedicated to church stuff. (often I’ll have a lunch appointment for church)

Like I said, this has been amazingly productive for me. Now the discipline will be to stick to it.

Divided Mailboxes

I started this one today because yesterday I noticed that as I was concentrating on design work I was getting really distracted by church e-mails that were coming in. I usually work out of my inbox and take care of tasks that come through there. When both church and design e-mails are sitting in front of me, its really hard to concentrate. This is especially when I get some church e-mails that are dealing with bigger issues. So, I had to find a way to focus on just the job at hand.

What I did was create three sub-folders under at “Today” folder: 1) Church 2) Design 3) Personal.

For example:

So, now when e-mail comes in, the first thing I do is move it to the appropriate inbox. Now, when I am working on Design stuff, I am only looking at design e-mails. When I am only looking at church stuff, i am only looking at church e-mails. So far this has worked beautifully…

Have two occupations isn’t easy. I have pretty much stunk at it for a while but God’s been working overtime to teach me a lot about myself, my natural lack of self-discipline and where I need to grow. These two simple practices have been big, big improvements in figuring this complicated life-style out…