“There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” “A woman’s work is never done.” “Yes, I can fit in that extra task in my copious spare time!” Have you ever uttered one or more of these phrases? Truth be told, we are often greatly frustrated by our finitude, the reality that we are finite beings and time is a fixed commodity. No matter how hard we try, we cannot add more hours to the twenty-four that God so graciously provides. In my daughter’s science class during Open House, there was a picture of Beyoncé, accompanied by the caption, “Both you and Beyoncé have twenty-four hours per day.” Like Beyoncé, we are likely working our hardest to cram in as much as possible in our waking hours, and we may even be compromising our sleep to do so. But as my grandfather used to say, “You can’t stay up with the owls and get up with the chickens.” Burning the proverbial candle at both ends can result in negative health consequences, decreased judgment in our decision making, and less joy! (Recall how incredible you felt the last time you had a good night’s sleep, and you’ll know the joy I’m talking about!)
So with the mile-long to-do list, how do we get it all in? Well, first, we must consult God to determine whether the items on our list are directly related to God’s purpose AND meant to occur in the time frame we have designed. Stephen Covey, world-renowned author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People draws a distinction between the urgent things of life that command our attention, such as picking up our children from school, taking a loved one to a string of doctors’ appointments, or making dinner, and the important things, such as pursuing your passion, establishing a retirement savings plan and acknowledging the birthdays, anniversaries, or other special days of your loved ones. Important tasks align with your values; however, not accomplishing important, non-urgent tasks doesn’t carry the same short-term consequences of not accomplishing urgent tasks. Here are a few significant questions to ask yourself about how you are spending your time:
- Am I neglecting my spiritual connection to God?
- Am I neglecting the physical needs of any of my loved ones? (Here, it is important to distinguish needs from wants.)
- Am I neglecting the emotional needs of any of my loved ones?
- Am I neglecting my passions, dreams, or purpose more often than not?
- Am I working harder on someone’s behalf than they are working for themselves?
- Do I need to say “No” to any activities in which I am joylessly involved?
- Am I able to handle the repercussions of saying “No”?
Once you’ve answered these questions with clarity, you can identify places in your daily or weekly schedule where you may need to do some re-aligning of priorities. When you’re clear on your priorities, you are then better positioned to make the most of your time through sound time management practices. In my next blog post, I’ll elaborate on some time management practices, and share some ideas about how to implement them.
Until then, be sure to get some rest! You deserve it!!
À votre santé (“To your health”),