Prioritizing My Life

What you are actually living... is not exactly what you want to live?
by Father Nathan Miller | Source:
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Here it is, our weekly fact: 24/7 = 168 hours per week. As simple as that!

   But there is a difficulty we moderns have with time. Laura Vanderkam, who writes for the Wall Street Journal (link), points it out very well:

“... by lamenting our overwork and sleep deprivation—even if that requires workweek inflation and claiming our worst nights are typical—we show that we are dedicated to our jobs and our families. Being "busy" and "starved for time" is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important.”

   Taking a step back, we can ask: But what causes the busy-busy? Why do we apparently rush and struggle all the time? Obviously Vanderkam’s words above do not highlight the cause of our hectic lifestyles, but give rather the explanation that we tend to give to others, or even to ourselves. I think, for one, we will all readily agree that we tend to pile more on the plate of life than we actually should be eating, however let’s stop to examine one other possibly cause of becoming busy. Maybe it will help us to understand and organize our lives that much better.

   In an article on prayer (link), I explained that “the highly praised contemporary planning system Franklin-Covey is esteemed by entrepreneurs because it helps them not only to organize time, but to prioritize their lives, that is, to choose to live how and what they want to.”

   Often, our hustle and bustle is caused (at least in part) by the simple fact that we waste lots of time! This leaves us (unfortunately) with less time to do what matters most, and we suddenly feel we are being “rushed.”

   We think we are being efficient, yet when we really begin to calculate the hours and minutes, we realize that what we are actually living is not exactly what we want to live, but more along the lines of what we like to live: as can be seen from the fact that the average (busy) American still manages to spend four hours and 39 minutes daily watching TV (link), a statistic which does not include “other media” such as Facebook, which is used for an additional 7 hours per month (link).

   In fact, that’s exactly what Vanderkam proved (to herself), and goes on to share with us in her article above. She discovered this by keeping a time-log. These are her results:

I soon realized I'd been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn't even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.”

   The reason the Franklin-Covey system turned the tables on the time organizing world, is because they focused on choice and consequence. They train you to ask yourself a simple question, again and again: “What do I REALLY want to do.” And then they get you to DO IT … and nothing else.

   The key to avoiding wasting time is to take the two step decision-making process and to apply it to your entire life:

1. Decide what you want to spend your 168 hours per week on 

2. And then do everything necessary to get yourself to do it.

I hope that helps. … What’s your take?

Fr. Nathan is editor of

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