LIVING INTENTIONALLY (The Use of Time)
TIME: What is it? Time is something all of us have regardless of our race, age, marital status, educational standing, economic level, social class, career path, religious beliefs, or geographic location.
There are many philosophical topics we could discuss regarding time but for this blog, we will focus on the management of time. In other words, how to live more intentionally. Time cannot be recaptured; once gone it is gone.
None of us know how much time we will have in life but each person has the same amount of time each day … 24 hours. Time is the daily equalizer.
Why can some people get three times the amount of work done while others complain there just isn’t enough time? The answer is priority setting and time management. Who sets your priorities and manages your time? You do. And if you don’t, then other people and circumstances will.
Life is not something that simply happens to people; life occurs as one looks at various choices and makes decisions. (See The Life Experience Chain in January and February 2018 blogs.) It is true that we don’t have choices about some things in life but there are many things we do have control over.
Priorities will depend on what you consider important. One of the first things is to reflect on is what do we want from life. We may want a certain thing but unless we are doing it, it is not a priority. How we spend our time reveals what is the most important to us.
What are the things in your life that you value most? Make a draft list now and it can always be revised at any time.
Some ideas: family, career/business, marriage, education, money, leisure, community work, charity, friends, making a difference in neighbourhood/city/world, hobbies, recreational activities.
This is your life. You get to choose what is put on the list and where you place it on the list. Much will depend on what you want out of life; the reason for prioritizing it is to make sure that is where you focus. It is important to look at a balanced life (relationships, work, leisure).
Priorities will also depend on where you are in life. For example, a student may prioritize study higher right now than leisure or recreational activities. A mother with preschool children might prioritize being home right now over a career or over community work.
Priorities need to be set before facing demanding people or circumstances so you can be steadfast in your personal commitments.
Priorities can also be looked at in terms of short-term or long-term goals. Where we are today is largely determined by the way we prioritize our desires and concerns in previous months and years.
Misplaced priorities result in wasted opportunities: values will determine emphasis we place and the amount of time allotted
Evaluation of Priority Setting:
- What activities did you choose? What steps will you take to make these a priority? How will much time will each priority need?
- Should some of these be seen as short-term goals or lifelong pursuits?
- What might interfere with these priorities? Are you persuaded by other people’s claims (their own priorities?) on your time?
- How does your own personality fit with keeping these at a high value? Are you committed or do you procrastinate?
Now that you have made a list of your priorities (the things you value) you can start to put them into goals and incorporating them into your daily activities. A balanced schedule doesn’t restrict our freedom but liberates us to accomplish what we want to do. This helps to be proactive, not reactive.
Possible hindrances to consider:
- What is my attitude each day? Negativity can be energy draining.
- Am I “aware” of time? Does it take me longer to do something that what I realize?
- What eats up my time? Do I get distracted or side tracked? Do I let things/people interfere with what I have planned?
- Do I tend to procrastinate or let perfectionism soak up valuable time?
- Have I drifted into habits or modes of thinking that have become a way of life?
- Write down goals for next day. Make sure your priorities get attention.
- The next morning read through the list to focus your energy on what’s most important for that day. Remember this doesn’t have to be rigid; something may have occurred in meantime to change the activity for the day or change those goals.
- Having a list and following it keeps you focused and can help keep distractions from interfering with what is important to you.
- Check yourself periodically during the day to keep on track. Crossing off or checking each item gives a sense of satisfaction.
- Evaluate at the end of the day. How you spend your day?
- If there were things that didn’t get done, put those on the list for the next day.
One of the basic needs and desires of humans is to have purpose in life. Without purpose, we exist, not live. It is a tragedy for people to reach the end of their life and have a list of things they regret because they did not define their life’s values and live intentionally toward those purposes.
Living intentionally is not easy. It takes deep thought to shift through and decide on what your values are and how they will be lived out in your life. It takes discipline to maintain and not get sidetracked by other people or things. You don’t need to be rigid but you do need to be steadfast.
It also takes wisdom to decide if these priorities you set fit you or the stage of life where you are. You see, values seldom change but how those values are played out and what they encompass may. So it is important that you do evaluations periodically.
My wish for you is that you may always be able to look at your life and feel satisfaction.
Judith S. Carscadden