It’s Not A Priority

A Facebook friend of mine posted a great meme yesterday. It said,

Instead of saying, “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.

Ouch.

I did a little searching, and the meme is actually a quote from an article by Laura Vanderkam called, “Are You As Busy As You Think?” It’s a great article, worth reading.

She makes the point that in our multi-tasking world, with our hyper-programmed children and constant distractions, we talk about being too busy. For example, in my job, people make the excuse for me all the time saying, “I’m sorry to bother you, I know how busy you are.” I feel like I’m running around all the time, rarely having a moment to sit down and just think, unable to stay focused enough to enjoy the depth of a good novel or a hobby.

But the truth is, as Laura points out, I have plenty of time. We all have 168 hours in the week, which allows us to work 50 hours per week, sleep 8 hours per night and still have 62 hours for everything else. That’s a lot of time for personal priorities. Time for making choices.

Right now, for example, I chose to sit down and write this blog post. It is time I could be dedicating to catching up on work emails or exercising or taking a class or crocheting an afghan. I am choosing to write, because writing feeds my soul and gives me a way to focus my thoughts productively. I am making a choice on how to use my scarce time — I am prioritizing what I want to do.

The reason the meme resonated so strongly with me is that when pushed, I have to admit to my choices. I am the one who spends an hour watching Netflix, decides not to meal plan or pre-pack a weeks worth of lunches, or hits the snooze bar four times in the morning. I say I need to exercise, but then don’t take the time to get up in the morning and do yoga or pack a bag so I can swing by the gym at night. I want to read more, but I haven’t managed to read a full novel since Gone Girl. I am struggling, like most people, with inertia and distraction.

Like many people, I want to use my time better. But, I don’t.

For me, it is a constant battle to move away from excuses and move to purpose. It is an on-going effort to be crystal clear to myself why I am doing something — or alternatively, doing nothing. There are times when I truly need to rest my brain or clean out my sock drawer. Sometimes it is the right time to play video games with my son or get a pedicure with my daughter. And sometimes I should be on Facebook.

What’s important is that I own my choices, my priorities and my time. That I recognize making a choice to prioritize something means making a choice to deprioritize something else. It’s not about not enough time, it’s about too many options and not enough discipline.

And, I have to be honest with myself about that, even if it hurts.

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