Priorities vs. Time: A Constant Struggle
A few weeks ago, my friend John Arnold shared a story with me about his friend, who had time management and productivity problems. Frustrated by his number of upcoming commitments, he turned to John as if a light bulb had suddenly gone off in his mind and said, “I just need to learn how to say NO!”
John replied, “Friend, you are great at saying no. You are saying no to your family, no to your health, no to sleep, no to exercise, no to staying hydrated, no to having fun and no to living a life that is meaningful and purposeful to you.”
What a powerful insight. Do you really know your priorities? Or, are you saying “No!” to life?
- No! to your family?
- No! to your health?
- No! to sleep?
- No! to exercise?
- No! to staying hydrated?
- No! to having fun?
- No! to living the life you want?
The Time Management and Productivity Concept of LIMITED CAPACITY
Time is a zero sum game. Whatever you choose to allow into your life automatically prevents you from using that time for any other activity. You have to choose between one activity or another.
Your time is limited to 24 hours each day. In the world of time management and productivity, it’s called “The Concept of Limited Capacity”.
A container can only hold the capacity it was created to hold.
It doesn’t matter if you intend to put more into a glass, it doesn’t matter if the glass wasn’t filled to capacity yesterday and it won’t change anything if you try to use a different glass. The capacity of a container is the maximum amount it will hold.
Your Calendar and LIMITED CAPACITY.
- 168 hours per week
- 24 hours per day
- 8 to 10 hours per day to work
Your calendar has a limited capacity, and once it is full of obligations and commitments then, just like the glass, it will reach maximum capacity. It is at that point that something inside your soul recognizes the incongruence between the life you envisioned for yourself and the life you are actually living.
Life is experienced by the choices you make about how you spend your time. Right now, at this moment – you are experiencing life. Right now – life is passing you by.
In many cases, you are experiencing the life you have agreed to experience – by choosing how you will spend the minutes of each day.
The LIMITED CAPACITY of Time: Heart, Body, Mind, Soul
Every morning you wake up with a new day, an empty glass so to speak. Many of us have work commitments, but when you look at your calendar, what do you see? Pull out your smart phone and review the activities and commitments you have scheduled for today:
- 8:00 am staff meeting
- 10:30 am budget report due
- 11:00 am call with vendor
- 11:15 am lunch meeting with client
- 2:00 pm teleconference with marketing team
- 4:00 pm dentist appointment
- 6:00 pm choir practice
You arrive home at 8:15 pm and still need to clean the house, do the laundry, cook dinner, check your personal email, pay the bills, etc. This isn’t life. This is a list of obligations.
If your calendar looks like the one above, you have chosen to react to life, rather than plan how you want to live it.
LIMITED CAPACITY of Life: Heart, Body, Mind, Soul
Plan in advance. For the next few weeks, rethink what you are really saying “No!” to.
In order to say “Yes!” to life, there needs to be a framework of non-negotiables. These non-negotiables are your personal priorities. Without establishing priorities, men and women across the world experience stress, anxiety, frustration, irritability, fatigue and low self esteem because they don’t allot enough time for personal priorities.
Here are four foundational priorities that many people are currently saying “No!’ to, simply because they are not consciously aware that their work and personal priorities are so far out of balance.
Say “Yes!” to These 4 Priorities
Block off time for your Heart
How much time would you like to spend with the people you love? Make your heart a priority.
Block off time for your Body
Block off time for your body. Exercise, nutrition, hydration and sleep are critical to experiencing the quality of life you want to have. Finding time to exercise can be challenging. Some people enjoy getting up at 5:30 am to go to the gym, but there are alternatives. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop and walk for fifteen minutes twice a day. Walk at night with your family, or take up a sport with your kids. And, really – how hard could it be to drink a minimum of 60 ounces of water a day and sleep seven to eight hours? Block off the number of hours you will choose to sleep.
Block off time for your Mind
Humans are curious creatures from birth, constantly challenging ourselves in various ways to find entertainment and novelty. The actual neural circuits in your brain either grow stronger through use and stimulation, or weaken and die if you are not regularly challenging your mind. Read books that contain stories of courage and bravery and you will become more courageous. Make an appointment to meet someone brilliant in your industry, spend a morning with them and you could gain years worth of wisdom.
Finally, Block off time for your Soul
This really should have been first, yet it is often the first thing we ignore. When you are overwhelmed, your soul grows cold and numb. It is not that your soul is sad or happy. It is that you have unknowingly lost touch with your soul.
You wake up one day and you wonder:
- Why am I so tired?
- Why am I stressed?
- Why am I overworked?
- Why don’t I feel like my life has meaning or purpose?
These are soul questions. Humans are deeply rooted with the desire for their lives to matter. We want to make a difference in the world. We want to have an understanding of why we have been placed on this earth. Each of us has unique strengths and talents, yet we lose connection with our true soul. Somewhere along the way, we’ve reached the maximum capacity of time and willingly let other projects, tasks, committees, and even volunteer opportunities fill up our days with things we do – not the life we live.
How can you fix this?
Choose to Say “Yes!” to Your Priorities
- Yes! to time with your family
- Yes! to your friends
- Yes! to exercise
- Yes! to better nutrition and drinking more water
- Yes! to sleep
- Yes! to choosing one new thing a month to learn, grow and stimulate your mind.
- And, say Yes! to taking time to re-connect with your priorities and purpose. Rediscover what you believe is most important in your life. Think about what makes your life meaningful and what will make a difference in the lives of those around you.
By choosing to say “Yes!” to your priorities, you choose to reconnect with your heart, body, mind and soul. This will reconnect you with your life.
P.S. One of my priorities was to reconnect with my soul. One week ago, I said “Yes!” to going skydiving. The 120 mph free fall was amazing! What will you say “Yes!” to today?
Featured photo credit: Allyson Lewis via fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net