I’ll let you in on a little secret.
Here is why I named the category this post is in “Priority Management” … and not “Time Management,” even though mastering time will most often be what posts in this section are about.
It’s because, as Chris Brogan says on page 48 in his new book The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth:
Whenever I don’t have time, it’s because of a choice I’ve made.
The last three words there are key:
My time is allocated where I choose to allocate it. These are not other people’s choices — and if they are, I’ve chosen to put myself in a position where other people can allocate my time for me.
So it still comes back to me and my choices.
Choices I’ve made.
Choices that are in the past. So there is no sense dwelling on them, because to do so would be to interfere with the here and now — and waste more time. There is some use, however, in reflecting on those choices, if only briefly, assuming the result is better choices in the future.
Stop shirking responsibility
The point is a simple one: we are responsible for where our time goes and we make time for our priorities.
“I didn’t have time”
This actually means, “it wasn’t important enough.” It wasn’t a high priority, fun, distracting, profitable or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list.
At best, saying “I didn’t have time” is a cop-out. At worst (but perhaps more accurate) it’s a lie.
Sure, it may be a comfortable little white lie to tell someone who came up short on your priority chopping block, if the goal is protecting that person’s feelings in the short term (a dubious rationalization), but it’s a destructive lie to tell yourself.
The more we say “I didn’t have time” and believe it, the more we absolve ourselves from the responsibility that is so clearly ours and nobody else’s.
“I didn’t make that enough of a priority” is what we should be saying, and then decide if it really is a priority and change … or we decide that it’s really not, and then consider removing whatever it is from our implied or explicit commitment list.
Define your priorities, and stick to them
How important is this? Here’s Brogan again, page 46:
Let me be clear: You will not inherit the earth, nor will you be successful at most anything, if you can’t figure out and master time.
This is why it’s number one on my Skills To Improve list.
I’m among the most careless perpetrators of the bullshit “I didn’t have time” line that I know. It’s simultaneously self-serving and self-defeating. But I can unlock an entire world of potential if I flip that script. So can you.
All it takes is a clear definition of our priorities, and an indefatigable commitment to them.
That first part — defining our priorities (and doing so smartly and with our long-term interests in mind) — is typically the real problem, not a lack of time.
We make time for our priorities. We don’t have enough for most else. It’s that simple.
So enough with the bullshit.
Prioritize. And let’s stop lying to ourselves.
Agree? Spread the word
If you disagree with me, please hop down to the comments and let’s discuss.
If you agree, still hop down to the comments and share your thoughts … and consider spreading the word through social media. Here’s a shareable you can use:
As always, thanks for visiting and taking the time to read. We’ll see you right here tomorrow.
Flickr Creative Commons Image “Guardian of Time” via Cornelia Kopp.