In her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Laura Vanderkam presents a perspective that can be both freeing and convicting:
“Instead of saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ say, ‘It’s not a priority.’”
Vanderkam firmly places the reins back in her readers’ hands. We may feel like someone else is driving this train off the tracks, but we do, in fact, choose how to spend our time.
Lacking boundaries and allowing an overbearing employer or family member to control our calendars is a choice. Feeling compelled to say yes to every social and volunteer opportunity is a choice.
Since I read 168 Hours this spring, I’ve mostly blotted “I don’t have time” from my vocabulary, admitting instead that where I spend my time is where my true priorities lie.
It has been challenging, but illuminating and worthwhile.
Time is finite, so I have to admit to myself that the things I don’t fit on my calendar simply aren’t my top priorities. I may want them to be, but they’re not, at least not today.
Sometimes I feel guilty for spending time writing, or I’m glued to my iPhone while Mike is telling me something, or I’m paying attention to work off the clock and ignoring loved ones in favor of work. These have all been opportunities to reassess my priorities:
- Honing my writing craft and investing in this online space are higher priorities than maximizing my earning potential at this point in my life.
- When I’m having an important conversation with Mike, Instagram is not a priority.
- At 8:00 PM, work is not a priority, so I don’t check my work email.
- On the other hand, if my sister calls at 8:00 PM, I’ll try to answer even if I’m in the middle of something.
There is freedom in being honest about priorities. Many choices come more easily.
But it can also be convicting. Most people probably wouldn’t list social media as a high priority, but the average American spends about two to three hours a day on social media. If we spend that kind of time, and then turn around and say we don’t have time to exercise or clean our houses (guilty), what does that say about our priorities?
The honest truth is that the things we want to be our priorities- our families, our health, our friendships and marriages- are a lot more work than the abundant distractions and urgent but less important time suckers.
How do you think differently about your calendar when you substitute, “It’s not a priority,” for “I don’t have time”?
This post contains my affiliate link. Thanks for supporting my site!
This post is part of a 31 day series on “doing less to build more.” To read the other posts in this series, click here.