Monday, November 01, 2010

Sticking to a Schedule

I am pretty schedule-oriented. I like sticking to a routine. (You may notice that I generally blog on Mondays.) In my perfect world everything would fit easily into my schedule and nothing would disrupt it! Yet, this is not a perfect world. And church work is certainly not conducive to a rigid schedule. One call for a pastoral emergency or funeral can throw the schedule off for the rest of the week. I've learned to hold my schedule lightly. I celebrate when things fall into place, but I also recognize the importance of the interruptions and live into them as best I can.

In dog training, keeping a schedule is also a tricky thing. It is important to keep a training schedule to ensure that the work is getting done. Three or four short training and exercise sessions are best each day, rather than one long one. However, if you stick too strictly to the same schedule the dog can get bored. He begins to anticipate what happens when and loses his sharpness. Even within the training sessions, it is important to mix things up. If you usually take the ball out of your left pocket, take it out of your right pocket occasionally. Practice heeling before practicing recall, and then switch it up. If you never vary from the routine, the dog will end up 'phoning it in.' The point of training is to keep the dog engaged, not to put him to sleep!

In some ways the same lessons hold true for life. Schedules and routines help us accomplish what needs to be done. Yet, if we stick too closely to our routines, we lose the spontaneity that can keep life interesting.

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