Saturday, July 26, 2014

Days Off

It can seem that clergy bang on about days off more than most. Maybe we do. I apologise for adding to the noise but this slightly biographical piece is me getting my head adjusted after a change.

My good friend John Gooding once told me that books about change should be called 'Negotiating the New Normal'. It was one of those occasions where the book was unnecessary as the title gave you enough to latch onto. A bit like the time management book my friend Bob never wrote called, 'If you've got time to read this book you don't have the problem'.

For the last few years I have taken Fridays off. The current Mrs Tilley (who will laugh at, rather than be offended by, that title) has been to work Monday to Friday. My Diocese has also encouraged me to take two consecutive days off once a month and recently I have become better at doing that.

My parish are sympathetic and often tell me off for answering emails on a Friday.

But in order to free up as much Saturday time as possible I have been in the habit of doing odd admin jobs on a Friday, usually first thing in the morning, because TCMT rouses me when leaving the house. For me, the important thing about Friday to re-charge has been about solitude; completely avoiding people not completely avoiding work. So I have often used the day to catch up on household tasks at a gentle pace, or a bit of reading or writing.

TCMT has just been told by a new line-manager that he expects his team to work every Saturday (they are in retail) and take a day off in the week in lieu. This may seem a harsh change but he has a much better attitude to days off and expects them to turn their phones off and not be available two days a week. Previously she has been on almost semi-permanent call.

So this last two weeks we have enjoyed each other's company together on a week day but I have discovered that I have had no solitude, done no chores and not done any of those little admin jobs on that day. I have already had an email this morning (Saturday) asking if I read the drama script sent yesterday and it is not quite 9.00 a.m.

So I need to adjust. Urgent admin, household tasks and some solitude need to be the order of Saturday so that we can spend Friday together, unless there are weddings or social functions. I feel very privileged to have a job with such control over my time and activity. But if I spend Friday in company and then have, say, a men's breakfast, a wedding and a social Saturday night watch out for me being a bit snappy on a Sunday. It may seem only a subtle change but imagine your week if Friday and Saturday swapped after all these years. Takes a bit of getting used to.

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