There are only so many hours in a day. I seem to have more appreciation for that fact at the end of the day, while lying in bed, no longer responsible to do anything but lie there and talk about how much I’m going to accomplish…tomorrow. Running, reading, groceries, organizing, projects, dates with kids, dates with husband, laundry, gardening, connecting with friends–all great things, but somehow hours go by the next morning before I remember all of those grand plans. “I don’t have time for it all!” is what I tell myself. I was busy all day. I’m tired at the end of the day. So, where did I go wrong?
Somehow, I think I accomplished more when my children were babies and I was forced to cram errands into the morning before naps and all home tasks into nap times. Aha! Maybe time was more “valuable” to me and I prioritized what needed to be done! Making time is a myth. Using the time I have is another story.
“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.” –Wall Street Journal writer Laura Vanderkam
It’s a great point she makes that our verbal excuse, “I don’t have time,” is easy, familiar, and reasonable. But when I remove those words from my vocabulary and change them to, “It’s not a priority,” somehow, I now feel responsible! Since when did I become comfortable with being a victim and giving up the responsibility for my own choices?
Whether you have hours at your disposal or precious few that are your own, what are your priorities? And, how will you stay focused? Let’s brainstorm some life hacks.
- Big picture: There are certain things that matter more to us, when we really stop to think. People matter. Relationships matter. Character matters. Joy matters. Peace matters. What are your top five “matters?” Make it an actual “big picture” and hang it on the wall, post it on your mirror, or make it your screen wallpaper. We tend to get overly focused on the small stuff and need to be reminded to walk humbly as we take baby steps toward the big picture.
- Weekly picture: Different days may demand different focuses, but there’s probably a pattern to your week that will dictate the day’s focus. How does that focus fit into the Big Picture Five? Life is full of seasons–don’t get frustrated if you see that you plainly need to shelve a few goals for another season in life.
- Daily picture: How will you stay on track? Are you a list maker? Sticky notes on the wall? Journal much? Whiteboard in the pantry? Reminders and alarms on your smartphone? All of the above? I’m not gonna lie, I need a new set of colored pens and a fresh notebook to motivate me, but writing it down takes it off my mind and gives me new energy to cross it off the list. Knowing I’ll be reviewing that list at the end of the day so that I can either cross it off or stare at it again tomorrow makes me work a little harder to stay focused. And, heck yes, if it wasn’t on my list, but it was a worthy task, I’ll write it down and cross it off after the fact! “Sing and read with my babies” is list-worthy. “Feel the sunshine” is list-worthy. “Chat with the neighbor at the mailbox” is list-worthy.
Summer is coming to an end and whether you have kids going back to school or just appreciate the change of seasons as a new starting point for new priorities, what choices can we make to change our language and change our lives, one priority at a time? There’s no time-making-machine, but we can make priorities and stop using those empty words, “I don’t have time.”
This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett, who will now check the box next to, “quit procrastinating and write a blog post about not making excuses.” 🙂