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Priorities: The key to unlocking your time

Time is somewhat elastic and can be adjusted to suit our needs. We just need to figure out how. 

There are 168 hours in a week.

If you’re a lawyer or law student, 40-50 of these hours will be dedicated to study or work. If you then sleep for 7 hours each night, this will still leave you with about 70 hours per week to live your life. 

Time management is something I’ve always prided myself on. My calendar is meticulously colour-coordinated to represent the different commitments in my life (green is sport, red is social activities, yellow is work, and so on), and I try to be as disciplined as possible in staying organised and on top of things. 

Being wired this way helps me feel like I’m maintaining a suitable level of balance and holism in my life, therefore keeping me grounded. 

A problem I’ve found lately, however, is that there are too many commitments that demand attention, and only a finite number of hours exist in the week to attend to those commitments. 

I’ve considered if there are any things I’ve currently doing that could be dropped. Frankly, I’m not sure there is. 

But, in the past fortnight, I’ve been wondering whether I’m looking at it the wrong way. 

Instead of worrying about how little time I have in which to do everything, I should perhaps consider what is of greatest priority and triage my commitments from there. 

Perhaps, instead of saying, “I don’t do XYZ because I don’t have time,” I should say, “I don’t do XYZ because it’s not a priority”. 

I have a keen awareness for what my priorities are. Work, writing my new book, seeing friends and family, playing sport and reading books are all non-negotiable items, and therefore remain a priority. Everything else is secondary. 

Instead of writing a long “to do” list and just hoping I get things done, I triage according to urgency and priority, which allows me to be productive where it will do me and my life the most good. 

Getting work done is paramount. Playing my weekly team sports is crucial. A Netflix binge, on the other hand, is a nice to have rather than a necessity. 

I’ll still do it, of course, when I’m able to. 

Looking ahead, I’m trying to envision the full scope of my time and see where the important stuff should go, and allow the likes of Netflix to fit in when possible. Not only does this mean I can actually focus properly on matters important to me, but it also affords me a greater sense of calm when I do get around to indulgence. 

Time can be a choice for us. Identify your priorities and put them into your schedule first. If you don’t have time for something, make sure it’s because it’s not a priority to you, not because you weren’t organised enough. 

If I focus more on what matters most to me, I feel strongly that I’ll be able to continue building the life – and state of wellbeing – that I want for myself in the time that I have. 

Getting the most out of those 168 hours will, I think, put me on that path.

Comments

Dr Anne Cregan-Wolfe (not verified) , Jul 29 2018
Excellent approach, prioritisation is vital. I have found that thinking of one's schedule as a game of Tetris can work quite well, you may just need to change the rules of the game slightly to best fit your individual needs, constraints and situation.

RECENT COMMENTS

Love this .. I grow my own veggies and fruit, they taste better when in season locally
Jules 23 days ago
Thanks, Sophie -- some good life advice in your article!
Peter Eedy 41 days ago
Hey Sophia, I’m the dad of a 12 year old rugby player, Molly has been playing for 4 years. Great insight into the thought process of a young woman and I’m hoping the benefits she’ll get over time.
Paul Bunker 43 days ago