After a period of some personal loss and drain, I mentioned to a staff person that I was doing only necessary stuff until energy came back. Her response was, "You're doing triage." I think she was right. Triage is that part of the health care system that focuses on the most immediate need as emergencies come in. No time for exotic or optional activities.
In ministry, there is a place for that. When pastors and leaders go through very demanding periods of family crisis or loss, the normal reserve just isn't there. If some key staff people are out sick and work must be divided up, again, triage may be the best approach. Even during times of expanded work responsibilities such as Advent and Lent (Holy Week, anyone?), trying to keep up everything we normally do is probably not realistic or advisable. The end result is usually exhaustion, burnout, and lack of energy for the season that follows. Simplifying and choosing only the necessary things provides the chance to focus on the really important things and not get lost in trivia.
It is interesting that we have no trouble giving pastoral advice to members of our congregation to take the time they need when they have lost a loved one or are engaged in elder care, or who have a child who is in serious trouble. We let other people pick up the slack and encourage them to get the rest they need. Why would we not develop a culture in our churches in which we are allowed and encouraged to do the same thing?
If you were to identify the really crucial (triage) things that you do in an average week, what would they be?