Statements about time are statements about priorities and values

July 9, 2011 by Joshua
in Awareness

My father once said to me (paraphrasing)

When someone says they have time for something or not, they aren’t talking about time, they’re talking about priorities. Everyone has time for what they want to do. If they say they don’t have time, it means something else is more important.

That observation has been one of the most valuable lessons I learned from him.

Since then whenever someone (including myself) has told me what time they had or didn’t for something, I’ve always translated their statement into a statement about priorities. The revision has always clarified the meaning better. My reaction has always been more effective and understanding. Not that I’ve kept track rigorously, but I don’t believe I found a counterexample where thinking in priorities helped less than thinking in terms of time.

Moreover, I find people who talk about managing time would help themselves more by thinking about their priorities and allocating time appropriately. People who claim they don’t have time for things they care about don’t understand their priorities and therefore values and therefore emotions. People who are scattered with their time are scattered with their priorities (and unaware of it). Low awareness of how you want to spend your time signals low self-awareness.

Most importantly, for myself, it helps me clarify what I want to do, when, and for how long. If I don’t know and can’t figure out, I know before looking at my calendar to look inside and understand what priorities and values are conflicting.

Likewise, when I know my priorities, my schedule works itself out every time. That doesn’t mean it’s empty. I mean it’s simple, without conflict; life is full of what I want and free of what I don’t; and I’m effective and productive without trying to be.

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