For people busy in ministry, home and life, every hour of the day is important. There aren’t enough of them so each one is precious and deserves to be spent well.
The first hour of the day sets the tone for the rest of the day. That quiet time with God fills up my soul so I can pour into others throughout the day.
The last hour of the day is a time to wind down, reflect and prepare for the next day.
But there is one hour of my day that is the most important hour to balancing the many roles in my life. I call it the “transition hour.”
I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I’ve been watching a lot of it lately, following the NBA championships. The announcers talk about the teams’ “transition game.” That time when the ball changes hands and the team goes from offense to defense or defense to offense. Strategy during the transition is important … do you grab the ball and rush down the court in a fast-break before your opponent gets their defense set? Or take your time and let your offense find their most advantageous positions?
The transition strategy can make or break the game.
Most of us have a transition hour in our day. Which of these transitions do you make every day?
- From work to home
- From being alone during the day to having the kids get home from school
- From taking care of babies in the afternoon to taking care of a spouse or other family members in the evening.
- From time spent on ministry to time spent on your family.
These transitions can be tricky because they take our mindset from one place to another. Sometimes we are literally switching from defense to offense. Or sometimes we are moving from one world to another, with a whole different set of vocabulary, standards and rules. Here are four tips for a transition hour game plan that can make or break your day.
Take a break
With a little bit of planning, we can put a physical break in the two parts of our day. The break can be a few minutes alone sitting in the carpool line, or during the baby’s nap. For me, it is the drive home from the office. The break time gives us a chance to shift those mental gears.
Depending on how the day has gone so far, I may spend that time listening to Christian radio, a podcast or audio book, praying, or just letting my mind wander where ever the Lord leads it. It’s a time of renewing and refreshing so I am ready to go again.
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Let’s be careful about that break. It is easy to sit down for a few minutes and think, “I’ll get up as soon as this show is over” or “when I finish this chapter” or “when I pass this level of Candy Crush.” (Have I mentioned my Candy Crush addiction before? I think I have.) But before you know it, you are into the next show or the next chapter or the next level. Try setting a kitchen timer or an alarm in another room so you have to physically get up and turn it off when the break is over.
Close the door
During the break, close the door on whatever has happened before. This can be the key to rescuing a bad day and keep it from becoming a bad night. I try not to bring the frustrations of my workday into my home at night.
Sometimes things that happened during the day truly need to be discussed at night. Venting those frustrations in a healthy way can be good, but when venting turns into habitual ranting, it becomes toxic. Consider these questions to tell the difference:
- Can anything we do tonight change the outcome of what happened today?
- Does what happened today affect anyone other than me?
- Can I talk about it without becoming overly emotional or hurtful to others?
- Is there anything others can learn from what I experienced today?
If the answer to all of those is “no”, it may be best to lay them at the feet of Jesus in prayer, and then close the door.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Open your mind
The other side of the transition hour can be almost like a whole new day! Spend some time during the break thinking about what you want to accomplish for the rest of the day.
There may be homework to finish, dinner to fix and kids to bathe. Mentally run through those things and have a specific plan for the evening.
The transition hour is the perfect time to consider the little ways you can set a positive tone. Does someone else need an encouraging word? Would a favorite dessert make someone feel special? Thinking of those things ahead of time makes us more aware and more likely to follow through.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)
Change your clothes
This may sound crazy, but changing clothes at the transition can be a mental signal that we are in a different place. When I get home from work, this is the first thing I do. It’s like shedding my work skin.
So change out of that spit-up stained top, or the comfy yoga pants that were perfect for curling up for an afternoon of writing. Something clean and fresh will perk up your sagging energy.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Whether you only have a few minutes to make a fast-break run from one place to another, or can take your time and get everything into position, being purposeful about this most important hour can keep the day flowing smoothly.
What type of transitions do you have in your day?
Linking up with Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart, Angie at #100HappyDays Susan Mead at #DancewithJesus, Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth and Holly Barrett at #TestimonyTuesday