Right now, right here, let me hash out a conversation about time management and priorities between myself, and two students of similar age.

Me: “I can’t really participate in this group discussion because I have all the answers. I can’t speculate since I know it already.” Student 1 looks at me funny. “I got them from the book. They’re in my notes here.” I angle my computer screen.

S1: “Wait, so where did you get that? Wait, like you actually like… read the book?”

Me: “… Yeah, yes I read the book.”

S1: “Oh wow. Like I didn’t even know you could do that. I don’t even have time for that.”

S2: “Wow, yeah me neither!”

Me: “Well, I get up at 5 am. So…”

S2: “Omygosh I can’t even get out of bed until, like 1.”

S1: “Yeah, I totally don’t have time for that. I’m soo busy!”

Me: “Yeah, I do homework on Saturdays from 5 to 4… pm.”

S2: “Wow! I couldn’t do that. I had so much going on this weekend. My friend had a birthday party. And I went to a festival.”

S1: “Totally. I’m suuuper busy.”

Me: Thinking about my actual weekend: woke up at 5am; wrote 4 pages of a 7-page research paper for Philosophy until 10am; cleaned my house for my family to come over at 11am; drove 40 miles to visit more family until 5pm; got dropped off at church until 7pm; went out to dinner until 9pm; went to karaoke bar until 1am; woke up at 5am Sunday morning. “…”

Here’s the thing, ok? You have time. You have time to do anything you want to do. But whatever is your priority is going to suck away that time. If your priority is raising a family, but you really want to paint in your spare time, you won’t have spare time until you make painting a priority also. If your priority is having fun with your friends, and you don’t also make school a priority, well you get a 3.5 gpa instead of a 4.0 (just saying…). How you spend your time will tell you what your priorities are.

That’s right, you can have multiple priorities! I know it sounds counter-intuitive. In fact, it is a bit counter-productive in that your two priorities will still share space. Like two children, you need to spend equal time with both (ok, maybe spend a little more time with the one you like best… for priories, not children!)

Here’s the defining factor. You write something in pen on your calendar. You commit to it. You decide you’re going to do something, and then do it! Follow through! Make that commitment to yourself, for yourself. You deserve your desires. You just have to make them a priority, too.

For me, for a while, I was juggling two priorities: work, and fun. I spent hours playing video games, watching movies, napping! It was a great life. I didn’t need to complicate it, until I did. Then I had two priorities: work, and school. I spent my days bundled in a knot of stress, working on being the best employee and also the best student I could ever be. I left no room for error. So finally, I settled on three priorities: work, school, and fun. It is not an equal divide. Work and school far outweigh fun, but I realized that I had to make fun a priority because my days were passing by and I wasn’t getting them back. I wasn’t enjoying them. I was happy to see them pass, but also mournful that they were gone. That’s no way to spend your time here. That’s not how I wanted to spend my time.

It’s not easy or flawless, but it is working because I have decided that I need these things to create a balance. So, I manage my time and when I need to put my fun priority first, I respect that. And when I need to put work or school first, I do that. Life is an adaptation, conforming to our priorities. What are yours?

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