Every year at this time I start thinking about my fall obligations. I find myself sighing at the amount of things I have taken on and re-evaluating how many of these things are truly important. I know that I am hitting critical stress when just the thought of my upcoming events makes me feel tense and unhappy.

As volunteers in our parishes it is vital that we keep ourselves healthy in order to be productive. Taking inventory of our commitments and managing our time becomes significant if we want to continue being effective in our catechetical roles.

To reduce stress and manage our time effectively we can look at some common issues and possible solutions.

1. Write a list of all the things you are doing. Include the commitments of home, volunteer time, work and all other obligations.

2. Eliminate anything that you don’t need to do, love to do or want to do.

3. Keep a journal of your time for a week. Look for patterns of time well spent, time wasted and areas when you feel pressed for more time. Use this journal to help change habits and use time more effectively. For example; If you get more done in the morning hours, schedule heavy work loads during that time. If you have a down time at one in the afternoon and too much to do at dinnertime, consider making dinner at one (or at least getting a start on it!)

4. Pray about what commitments are really necessary. Are there other things that should be eliminated or reduced.

5. Consider delegating more. Think about having a teacher’s aid in your classroom, or even co-teach a class. Are there older children/teens in the parish who would be willing to help in a religion class if asked? Find support people any where you can.

6. Have a plan for your faith formation year. You don’t have to remain tied to a strict schedule, but know what you need to cover and how much time you will need to do that. Don’t forget to include break times and time for questions in your class.

7. Stay organized. Keep all your class materials, papers, books and letters in one place. I don’t have a permanent classroom, so I purchased a heavy duty plastic bin with a handle, everything stays there so I never have to hunt for anything. This saves time and energy.

8. Don’t procrastinate. Putting off your lesson plans or paperwork will only cause more stress and disorganization. We are rarely stressed by what we have done, only what we have to do.

8. Relax and enjoy teaching. We have been given a great blessing in our roles as catechists. Give thanks that God is using you in this way and enjoy spending time in your classrooms.I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:14