"I’m too busy."
"I have too much on my plate."
"There just aren’t enough hours in the day."
So often we hear people say things like this. Maybe even more often we’ve said these things ourselves. As a wife and mom, I especially feel like it’s up to me to make sure everything gets done and gets done just right. It’s a chronic problem in a fast-paced society where no one can live up to their own Pinterest page.
But I have a theory about all that: We don’t have a time problem; we have a priority problem.
Just like in any other area of life, if we aren’t intentional with our time, it has a way of slipping through the cracks. (And let’s be honest—sometimes those cracks are more like craters.)
I know we have the best of intentions when we attempt to multitask. But the truth is that sitting on the bleachers at your child’s softball game while responding to work e-mails on your phone doesn’t truly serve anyone. You could miss cheering for your child’s first base hit (or worse, consoling them after a strikeout), which defeats the purpose of physically being there, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, your colleagues receive only half-thought-out direction from your end because you’re not giving work your full attention in that moment. In this scenario, no one is getting what they want and need from you the most: your attention.
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Let’s face it. Everyone gets the same number of hours in a day. Your time is finite and you cannot physically do it all. So instead of being only half-present when you’re needed, recognize that if this was important enough to take up space on your calendar, it’s important enough to fully engage.
It helps to remember that everything in your life is not equal. You need to give people, events, and (don’t forget!) yourself importance by designating them your time. There’s no "right" order because your priorities are unique to you. But you should come up with a hierarchy. Having clear priorities will not only help reduce your stress, but it will make decision making much easier when you’re pulled in multiple competing directions.
Here’s how to put this into practice:
Take all of your commitments and list them in order of importance. On paper. You can use this reminder to plan your schedule or block your calendar. Instead of getting pushed into the background, your priorities start to shape your decisions. I love the quote by Stephen Covey, "Don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your priorities." That’s what this is all about! Knowing your priorities will reduce stress, guilt, and worry while increasing your confidence and speeding up your decision making!
When you’re at the softball game, be fully present for your kids. When you’re at the board meeting, be all-in for your team. When you’re at the dinner table, be 100 percent attentive to your spouse. Treat your priorities like priorities, and everything else will fall into place.
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