Are you spending time on the things that are important to you? Or do you rush from task to task, appointment to appointment, and at the end of the day, you’re not really sure what you’ve accomplished? Maybe it’s time to realign your priorities.TheExceleratedLife.com
Actions Speak Louder
If you asked me if my physical health is important to me, I’d say “Yes” and tell you I work hard at being healthy. But look at this e-mail exchange I had last week with a trainer at the local YMCA.
Y trainer: “Hi Steven, Just wanted to check in to see how you are doing with your workout? I also wanted to let you know that it is time for your follow-up appt.”
Me: “Thanks for the follow-up. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like with workouts the last few weeks, due to travel & other schedule conflicts. But I’ve been coming when I can.”
Y trainer: “Hi there, I have you down for next Fri at 1:30. We can talk about the things that are keeping you from getting in a workout.”
Me (to myself:) “Yikes!”
Talk Vs. Behavior
So, I’m on the hot-seat for Friday . . . but not really, because you see, I already know what’s keeping me from getting in a workout. I have prioritized other things over it. Unknowingly or inattentively, perhaps, but there it is. My actions haven’t matched my words and they certainly have not been aligned with my priorities.
“What you do speaks so loudly,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “that I cannot hear what you say.”
Or, more recently, this is one of my favorite ideas from Gary Ryan Blair: Behavior never lies. “If there’s ever a discrepancy between what someone does and what someone says,” says Blair, “focus on their actions.”
Effective or Just Busy?
Where does your time go? Are you spending time on the things that are important to you? Or do you rush from task to task, appointment to appointment, and at the end of the day, not really sure what you’ve accomplished? If you answered “No” to the first question and “Yes” to the second, maybe it’s time to consider realigning your priorities.
During the day, take a few minutes each hour and list the things you did during that time. Do this every day for a week. I know, I know — this is adding one more thing to your hectic schedule, but it’s only for one week and it’s important that you have a realistic idea of where you are spending your time.
Next, schedule a half-hour of quiet time to consider these questions. Ask your Excelerated Self™ for help in answering.
- What is most important to me at this time in my life?
- What is something I want to accomplish that I’m not doing?
- Are there areas of my life that need attention right now?
- Do I have a goal or dream that I am neglecting?
Don’t try to edit the list now, just write down whatever comes to mind.
Align Your Priorities
Once you have your list, it’s time to create your Unconditional Yesses, your list of priorities for your time. [For your convenience, here is a form you can use for this activity.] This list will become the tool you use to guide you in making wise choices about how you spend your time. For those of you familiar with Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, these are the Quadrant II activities — Important but not urgent. (These are activities we often put on the back burner but which could make a dramatic difference in our lives.)
For example, my Unconditional Yesses include:
- Nurturing my relationship with my wife and children.
- Improving and maintaining my physical health.
- Deepening my spiritual growth.
- Building my business.
Next, go through the list of activities you engage in during the week. Identify activities that are “time-wasters”. These are activities that are not among your Unconditional Yesses. While it may be necessary that they be done, they don’t have to be done by you. Write these down on the form.
Now, commit to removing one of these time-wasters from your list each week. This may mean delegating the task to someone else, training someone how to do it, even deciding that it is something that doesn’t really need to be done. If you absolutely have to do it, come up with a system to automate it as much as possible and to get it completed in the least amount of time. This will take an investment of time to do but can result in your having a couple of extra hours each week.
Honor Your Priorities
It didn’t take me long to realize that some of my priorities are misaligned. I told the trainer at the YMCA that “scheduling conflicts” were the reason I hadn’t been working out consistently. In reality, I was letting tasks slide that I needed to accomplish. Then, I had to use the time when I could have been going to the Y to finish up those other tasks. By not prioritizing those earlier tasks, I allowed them to impact and override other priorities – like working out at the Y.
Honor your priorities. Bring the important things back into your life. Say “Yes” to the Unconditional Yesses and “No” to the time-wasters. That is embracing your Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.