I don’t know if you noticed, but as Americans, we are busier than ever. More things are competing for our time. There has been an insidious spread of bringing work home via our smartphones. Constant access to email and texting has irreversibly blurred the line between work and home life.
The fact that we take less vacation time than any other industrialized nation on the planet has been well documented. 54% of Americans end the year sacrificing multiple days of unused vacation time. What choice do we have? To stay competitive, we feel we must never unplug.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are too busy to do the things we know we should do. The gym, reading books to supercharge your career, quality time with the kids, etc. seem to be neglected. Yet according to the New York Times, the average American spends 5 hours and 4 minutes per day watching TV.
It turns out that we do have the time.
What we don’t have is the ability to prioritize.
The minute something really becomes your priority, I promise you will figure out a way to fit it into your schedule. The lovely Dizzy D and I joined an incredibly intense fitness regimen a few years ago. There was “no way” we could fit the time necessary into our crowded schedules. Shockingly, somehow we were able to make every session. It became possible when we decided to make it a priority. The results were nothing short of amazing. Once we stopped making it a priority, we stopped going. Not overnight. We went less and less every week until many of the gains we had made were lost.
Reframing Our Idea Of Time Management
A friend of mine challenged me recently to reframe the way I talk about time; specifically my self-limiting belief that I didn’t have enough.
- Instead of saying, “I don’t have time to exercise,” he urged me to say, “Exercising is not a priority for me.” OUCH!
- “I don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch,” turns into, “I’ll take the number 1 value meal.” Hello cardiologist.
- “I don’t have time to read more books on sales,” sounds like, “Becoming better at my craft is not a priority for me.” Not good…
- “I don’t have time to coach my daughter’s soccer teams,” becomes, “Coaching my daughter’s soccer team is not a priority.” OUCH – OUCH!!!
- “I don’t have time to take my family on a vacation this summer,” is now, “Making lifelong family memories is not a priority.” Hurts, huh?
- “When I have the time I will… fill in the blank…” is suddenly, “where did my life go?” One word – REGRET
I get it. I struggle with each of the above (other than coaching soccer… I hate soccer.) We live at a time when there are more things screaming for our attention than ever before. What we chose to respond to is up to us. We don’t need some new fancy time management system. We need a priority management system. Unfortunately, one doesn’t exist.
A Life and Death Battle
Priority management is a process that we must engage in every day. It is a constant battle where the urgent competes with the important. And the important is constantly trying to subdue the critical.
So what is critical in your life? What are the things that are non-negotiable? What are you going to dedicate your time to? Let me know by leaving a comment below.