It’s Not Lack of Time, It’s Lack of Priorities

Many times, I reach out to potential clients to see if they’d like to have an exploratory conversation and they tell me that they’re too busy. We act like being busy is a badge of honor that makes us look and feel important. From my point of view, it just means that we’re poor at prioritizing our lives.

I’ve been there. Back in my twenties, I would cram as much as I could in a day, sometimes working 14–16 hours a day, sleeping only 4–5 hours a night, because I was ‘important’. I was Vice President at a technology firm, and they needed me (or so I deluded myself into believing). I wanted others to see how valuable I was to the firm.

It wasn’t until I nearly died in a motorcycle accident when I was thirty three years old that I stepped back to really evaluate my life. I realized that I had it all wrong.

We All Have The Same 24 Hours a Day

According to Jim Kwik, most CEOs and executives read about a book a week. These are some of the busiest people I know, yet they choose to prioritize investing in their learning by consuming a book a week. How many books have you read in the past year?

Time and energy are our true resources. We exchange them for money, relationships, and experiences. We are exchanging a slice of our life for anything we get. How valuable is each slice to you?

What is important to you?

Clarity is power. Are you clear on the priorities in your life? Do you allocate the right amount of time to accomplish what you need to with your priorities?

Looking at it another way, I’ve heard it said that what we spend our time on is what our priorities are. If you were to keep track of your time, would it be in alignment with your priorities?

Learning To Say No

Many times, we overburden ourselves with tasks instead of focusing on outcomes. The danger with doing this is that when we complete a task (essential or not), our brain gives us a shot of dopamine and it makes us feel good. When we learn to prioritize outcomes, then we can spend our time on those things that provide the results that are in alignment with our priorities.

If something is not a clear yes that will bring you closer to your goals, then it is a no. The clearer we get on our priorities, the clearer we get on our yeses.

Investing in Ourselves

Creating a mental, physical and spiritual balance is important. While they are separate aspects of who we are, they are interdependent.

Maximizing Our Time and Energy

Another thing that has proven to be beneficial for me is batching, or consolidating similar tasks. I like to also batch by days. For me, Monday and Wednesday are primarily my coaching days. I use Tuesday and Thursday to focus on big projects. Friday is my writing and strategy day.

Focus creates efficiency as well. There is no such thing as multitasking when it comes to focus. When we can focus on one thing at a time, without distraction, we become more productive. One tool that I use is the Pomodoro technique. I have a timer on my computer that I use. I name a task, click start, and it gives me 25 minutes to focus. Then I get a 5 minute break.

Our environment plays another role in maximizing our time and energy. A clean, clutter free environment helps create a clean, clutter free mind.

Focus on Outcomes, Not Tasks

When we complete a task, our body gives a shot of dopamine, which makes us feel good. Even if the task provides no value in getting closer to our goal, our brain rewards us. That’s part of the danger in being task-oriented. When we are outcome-focused, we complete tasks and get our dopamine, but we also have a higher-level emotional drive on why we are completing our tasks.

When I was in sales, my goal was to hit my yearly sales number by October. My reward for doing that is that I could either spend the last two months of the year in vacation mode, or I could continue to sell and hit the higher bonus numbers for more money. The outcome I wanted was clear, so the tasks I chose to do were those that helped me reach my goal.

If there are any tasks that you are doing on a daily basis that aren’t driving you closer to your priorities, are you willing to let them go?

Planning Free Time

Free time for me includes play time. It includes time in serving others, enjoying a hobby, or getting in nature. This time is a valuable investment in ourselves.

Bringing It Together

  • Prioritizing their life
  • Learning to say no
  • Maximizing their time and their personal flow of energy
  • Focusing on outcomes and not tasks
  • Planning free time for recovery and growth

I would much rather have somebody tell me that them investing in themselves with a coach like me is a lower priority in their life right now than to tell me that they’re too busy. But then again, they may be too ‘busy’ because they haven’t chosen to invest in themselves and have decided to let life live them instead of them living their own lives.

As we choose to take control of our lives, we get to evaluate what is important to us and what actions will provide the greatest results. This activity alone may be the best investment of time you could make today.

An Invitation

Helping people create their path of peace, power and purpose with Zenpowerment. http://www.myzenpowerment.com