What’s Important to You?

Winter will be here in a few months. Imagine being in a car that is stuck in snow—you forward and reverse the gears, hoping to jimmy yourself out of the rut. The wheels are in motion, your car isn’t.

Are you like your car—living a life where there’s action, but no real movement, or completion of task?

Is there just not enough time in the day to get done what you want to do—within or outside of work? Do you ever feel that you have too, too much on your plate to handle? With day light savings ending soon, do feel that you might lose an hour in your day?

According to Jeff Davidson, author of The 60 Second Organizer (Adams Media, www.BreathingSpace.com), “Everyone has 168 hours a week. One way or another, everyone fills them.”

He further breaks down what the cumulative amount of years you spend doing various activities. “Any activity consuming 30 minutes of your day, consumes a year of your life. During a work life of 48 years (from ages 22 and 70), an activity that you engage in for an average of 30 minutes each day consumes one complete year of your life: (½ hr in 24 hours) = (½ yr in 24 years) = (1 yr in 48 years).”

Now, 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, and if you are like the average employee, you kiss-off almost two hours a day just at work—it’s called shirking… anything from phone chats, idle chatter among co-workers, computer games to surfing the Internet. Home could add another two if you consider TV time.

Using Davidson’s formula, you could see that poof…four to eight years of your life…your productive life…has passed you by. You’ve ambushed yourself.

With this new perspective, you can take steps eliminate activities that don’t fit with what you where you want to go or be. It means you must take control—look for new ways to accomplish your goals and be willing to question your routines.

Sabotaging Routines, Rituals and Gottas

If you feel that you don’t have enough time in the day, the question is: what are you so busy doing? What are your routines, rituals and gottas?

You may have a morning ritual of reading the paper before leaving for work—instead, could you listen to the news in your car on the way to work and skim the paper in the evening for other items that you missed?

You may routinely open every piece of mail that comes your way—could you just dump all the junk mail over the trash and not open any of it? How often do you really act on the sales pitches that fill most mailboxes?

You gotta get to this meeting or start a new project or go to this event…you know the gottas. We all face them throughout the week, almost beating ourselves up in completing some superficial task—truth be told, it really is no big deal if it is bypassed.

What’s Important to You?

If you feel that important tasks are shortchanged; that you have to do everything yourself; that you have stacks and stacks of “to do” items piling up; that you can’t get anything done because you are interrupted all the time; or that being late is now your new operating system, then it’s time to do an assessment: what is important to you?

If you know of anyone who has experienced tragedy or a life threatening illness, it’s not uncommon to see changes as they come out of it. Why? Choices…they’ve made some during and since their experience.

Two of my children have died—one as an infant, the other as a teen. Both affected me profoundly…and in different ways.

I learned that the dust will be here tomorrow…my kids may not. Goodbye perfect housekeeping.

I learned that it was a heck of a lot more fun to be silly and laugh and play in the dirt. Goodbye perfect manners and decorum.

I learned it was more important to be vulnerable and be present for family and friends. Goodbye putting up a front when it doesn’t really manner.

I learned that I only had 168 hours in a week and clearly, I could influence how they would be filled. It’s about choices…what are yours?

Start with Prioritizing

Choices come with clarity with prioritizing. Create a file in your computer for Choices—or get the old fashioned paper and pen. Think self, spouse, children, marriage, family, work, financial, health, recreation, lifestyle, education, friends, environment, global, politics, enrichment, etc. Anything and everything that you’ve have some interest in, put it down.

Now, probe a bit. With a second pass, do some things seem not so important? If so, delete them from your list. Are some things similar enough that they can be grouped together? Group them. Some people assign numbers or color code their groups—do what works for you.

Warning: everything can’t be critical…everything can’t have the same level of importance. If you do that, you set yourself for total frustration and failure.

Your priorities will most likely change over time. They are usually based on your personal needs and desires. Revisit what you’ve written—tweak it when appropriate. Whether you do it daily, weekly, monthly, etc., you find yourself getting more in control of your life and your work…and reclaiming part of the 168 hours that were lost.