How well do you balance your priorities? Do you never have time?

Time and priorities seem to go hand in hand. Some say that time is all about setting priorities. I often think that when someone says “I don’t have the time”, a more honest reply would be: “It’s not that important to me or not as important as the other things going on in my life right now.” In some time management courses, they teach you to understand the distinction between important and urgent. Some things are both important and urgent and thus you should attend to them right away, others are urgent but not important. The phone ringing tends to define a sense of urgency as it screams to be attended to. We rush to pick it up, only to find a telemarketer on the other end. Other things are important, but do not need to be done right away, thus we put them off and sometimes never seem to get the truly important things done in our lives. We may reflect on these failures when it is too late, as in telling someone we really love them, after they are dead. However, we are too busy with the urgent to spend time on the important.

The no-brainers are the unimportant and un-urgent. Yet, how many of us occupy our time with these true time wasters: the daily news, the TV set, gossip or trivia about sports or movie stars or what so and so wore to the wedding. Studies show the average person watches 3-6 hours of TV a day. Can you think of anything on TV that falls into the urgent or important categories? Yet, how often do you say “I have no time?” What if you answered: “I am sorry, I don’t have the time, I have to watch 6 hours of TV tonight before going to bed?” What would you think if someone said that too you? It might be refreshing if people were more honest.

What method do you use to set priorities in your life? Do you think you have your priorities well balanced? If not, what could you do to better balance your priorities? How much time do you spend on the unimportant and un-urgent each week? How much time to you spend on the truly important? How much time do you spend dealing with the simply urgent? Are you always fighting fires and never getting the important tasks done? Dr. W.E. Deming used to say, “Putting out the fires, does not improve the hotel.”

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