Let’s talk about how to create time and master your priorities in life…
Time is the great equalizer. No one has more time than anybody else in any given day. 24 hours in one day, 168 hours a week, 720 hours per month. It’s our responsibility to choose what we do with that time, and to pave the way for great utility of that time.
With 720 hours per month:
- 33% (240 hours) are spent sleeping (assuming 8 hours per night)
- Another 22% is for working
- Commuting for work (3%)
- Prepping food and eating (Just under 3%), and;
- A whopping two hours a day on social media (8.3%) (Unless you’re a teen, then the average goes up to 9 hours per day… (37.5%))
After sleeping, working, commuting, eating, and social media you only have 221 hours (30.7%) left in your month. This is a just about 7.3 hours per day you have to play with, with less time on weekdays and more time on the weekends (generally).
You can go way more in depth with this study, and others have done so, including this American time use study.
This last 30% is for everything else. Exercising, housework, yard work, working on side hustles, working towards destiny goals, reading, watching TV, etc. You must fit every other part of your life around your primary time sucks.
Time sucks doesn’t it?
It doesn’t relent or give us a break. Every minute wasted is a burnt page out of a book. You can’t turn back (Unless your name is Doc Brown) and you can’t stop it. The one and only thing we can do is to “decide what to do with the time that is given to us” (- Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.)
If we can learn to prioritize our time by saying yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things, we will maximize the time we have here on this earth. We create time only by shifting priorities.
This is the secret to time creation, and we will hash out how to make it a reality. This isn’t a blueprint for a time machine, instead, this post is a guide to organizing your life around what matters.
Shifting the Busyness Mindset: Make Time for Your Top Life Priorities
To create time, we must stop saying to ourselves ‘I can’t do that, I’m too busy.” Own that you can’t do it because it’s not a priority in your life at the moment. Busyness is a facade, priorities are king.
I suggest being gentle with your dear Aunt Sally if she invites you to that family BBQ even if you are loath to attend. I doubt that saying “Well Aunt Sally, you are just not a priority in my life right now” would be a good idea. In fact, this would be the type of comment that would hurt sensitive family members, and cause unnecessary drama. We all have crazy families…
This post is not about fracturing family relationships with blunt and strange reasonings, it’s about shifting your thinking, and adjusting your attitude to the multitude of tasks before you.
It’s neither good nor bad, it is what it is. If your life has shifted and changed, then attending every single family event might no longer be a priority, and that’s okay. Learn to accept that you can’t say yes to everything.
Aunt Sally might just have to miss out on your lovely company this year, and that’s just how it is.
A word of caution though, if you say yes, keep your word. Strive to finish out a task you committed to, just think before you say “yes” next time.
My Dad sent me a copy of his new book a few months back. I took over three months to to read it and send him back my edits. Ouch. The memory hurts to think about.
I kept telling myself I was too busy to get to it. The manuscript sat on my counter and I had yet to start it.
While I did have a lot on my plate, I could have shifted priorities and finished it up faster for him. I could have made it a habit to read it for 10 minutes a day until I finished the task.
In hindsight, I didn’t make editing the book a priority. Once I realized this and shifted my thinking, I got it done right away and sent it off to him. I shifted my thinking and realized that “I’m too busy” is just a bad excuse.
I needed to shift the priority to a higher level, cut out the other noise and distractions and get it done. I spent less time in front of the T.V. and less time writing for my own projects to get the job done.
This is the memory that serves as a reminder for me. I’m sure if you think about it, you might have one of your own.
Yes? Or No? When to say Which to Give Time to the Priorities in Life
Life always seems to get in the way. I am sure that while reading this you are thinking “okay, but how do you do this in practice? How do you let your priorities govern your actions?”
The answer? Cold hard determination, grit, and lots of mistakes and utter failures.
Most of the time the priorities are not clear, especially for competing top level priorities. How do you decide whether to go to your son’s chess tournament or your daughter’s math meet that happen to both fall on a Tuesday night… at 7PM… 30 miles apart?
You make the best of it and do what you can. The fact is that it’s impossible to do everything and to be everywhere when competing level priorities butt heads. Often though, this example is rare.
Far more common are these situations where the right answer might not be clear, but with a bit of thought and discipline applied, there is a clear winner:
- Should I call back my brother first or my wife?
- Do I play video games or finish out the work project that’s due tonight?
- Would it be a better choice to have a healthy dinner (fitness priority) or eat a whole pizza over the sink like a rat? (Fun priority)
- Chocolate or vanilla? (just kidding, we all know vanilla is the clear winner ;))
Finding the balance in our daily life isn’t easy, but when we are clear about our priorities, these types of decisions become easier. If we know our priorities without even thinking about them, then we can make the right choice despite tough situations.
Master the art of saying no to the wrong things to say yes to the right things.
When have important items in your life slunk to the bottom, and trivial tasks wormed their way to top?
We all have a lot on our plate, and there are things we either have to postpone or say no too.
Remember the importance of finishing a task you agree to, but also realize that most people will be very gracious to you. Ask for more time, or ask for forgiveness on the delay and get it done when you can.
Busyness is a facade, there are only priorities.
Don’t convince yourself that you are too busy for the important things in your life. Examine your priorities and take a top down approach.
For example here are mine:
- Top paying work
- Most enjoyable work
- Side projects
- Video Games
This is not a complete list, but having a good idea what your priorities are is how you best manage time. If family is a top priority, then I will make time to do projects for them or spend time with them, before I make time for reading.
Just recently my wife and I weren’t connecting as easily as we normally do. There seemed to be no quantifiable issue, but we felt off.
After talking, we realized that other things in our lives were taking a higher priority. Once this fact hit us, we took a day for us and said no to previous commitments.
We make our marriage a top priority, but as things come up they tend to compete with top priorities. As hard as it is, examining and giving ample time to your top priorities is not only advisable, it’s also necessary to prevent your entire tree of priorities from crashing down around you.
Make sure the top shelf is good to go before you prioritize anything on the lower tier. It’s not an easy thing to do, but learn to recognize these trends in your own life to adjust course as needed.
Master Your Priorities in Life
By now you are in agreement that priorities are of utmost importance. Without them, you can’t get the right things done, you will become busy doing all the wrong things, and overwhelm will come for you.
Mastering your priorities starts with asking yourself some tough questions and then being upfront and honest with the answers.
One simple way to start is by filling out this priority tree below:
It might appear simple at first, but basing every yes or no decision on the priority tree can help create time for what’s important.
The top priority is what you hold most dear. These are the tasks, responsibilities, or relationships that are the most important and demand your highest attention. For example:
- Running a non profit
- Business ownership
- Planting a church
- Building a foundation to help cure cancer
*God should be at the ultra level of priorities, but this is just an example of the thought process behind this.
Mid-level life priorities are important, but if a need from one of the above comes knocking, you will have to say no to these and say yes to the top level. They might look something like:
- Church commitments
- Job and Income
- Community involvement
- Relationships with friends
- Writing a book
- Eating healthy
- Getting enough exercise
Bottom level priorities are still very important (as they are still priorities) but only cast your attention on them as long as none of your higher level priorities are pleading for attention:
- Recreational activities
- Get-togethers with friends
- Side hustles
- Cleaning the house
Some of these examples might shift up and down for you depending on life circumstance. Maybe your recent doctor visit didn’t go so well? Bump up healthy eating and fitness into the top level priority so you can be around to add “play with your grandkids” to your list later on in life.
This exercise reveals where you want to spend your time, and how you can create time for your priorities in life.
You have the power to choose what you do with your life and mastering priorities is a great first step.
In all of this, you must find a balance. Take on too much and you will fail. Take on too little and you might end up disappointed with what you accomplished in this one life.
With life comes trials. You will find success mixed with great failure in the journey.
Balance is discovered by living life with this motto in mind:
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you” -Saint Augustine
Trust that God will see you through, but don’t use this as an excuse not to do something with your life. Be bold with your time and create enough of it to do the things you know you need to do, but still find that balance between work and play.
Seek to do your best in all things, and strike a balance with your blood, sweat, and tears. It won’t be easy, but work at it and you might just find new contentment and enjoyment in this amazing albeit very challenging world.
Time Creation Takeaways
I’d like to suggest the following five takeaways from this post:
- Value what little time we have available to us by making the most of every minute we have left.
- Recognize that busyness is a facade. No one is too busy for something, you choose where to put your time. Making time for your priorities in life is up to you.
- Take a good hard look at your own priorities and determine what matters most to you.
- Say no to lower level activities to free up precious time to focus on the higher level items.
- Strike a balance by working hard, but also depending on God to see the task through.
Best wishes as you go forward and create time,