There is never enough time in the day. No matter how well the day is planned, some things won’t get checked off the list before your eyelids grow heavy and it’s lights out. Time is life’s most precious commodity. Figuring out how to spend it is one of life’s greatest challenges. This is especially true for today’s multi-talented, multi-tasking woman.

We’ve heard the illustration. Your life is an empty jar. If you fill it with sand first (the trivial trappings of life) there will be no room for larger stones (the truly valuable ventures). However, if you place the stones first, they will all fit, and the sand will fit too, finding its way into all the little spaces in between. The concept is simple: put the important things first. The difficulty is this: how do you know what’s really important?

The world loves to try to define importance for us. Educators, employers, and advertisers all want to define our priorities. As a critical, analytical person, I resisted such suggestions imposed by others. No, I would not just take the job that paid the most money. No, I would not spend time with someone just because she was well connected. No, I would not skip coffee with grandma just because my boss scheduled a last-minute meeting. Conceptually, I developed my own ideas about what was important. At its simplest, this broke down to a couple of rankings. Though I never wrote it out or fully thought it through, I made decisions based on this conceptual structure. It went like this: (1) Family was most important, then close friends, then friends, then acquaintances. Myself came last. (2) Spiritual needs were most important, then emotional, then intellectual, then material.

I thought I had found the key to prioritizing. I took pride in the fact that I did not succumb to the pressure to simply put work before play, and play before rest. However, some of my ideas were wrong. And ultimately, they didn’t help on a practical level.

Currently, I work for myself. It’s splendid because I have near complete freedom with my time. No one tells me what to do. But, on the downside, no one tells me what to do! Every single day, I have to decide what to do and where to go and when. This magnified challenge has caused me to re-evaluate how I view priorities. In the next three articles, I will share the three new ways I evaluate my priorities: The Three I’s of Prioritize.

However, before the serious business of determining those truly valuable ventures, take a little breath. Not every space needs to be filled with proverbial sand. So, do NOT feel guilty if you “waste” a day. Every day is a gift. It is perfectly okay to just enjoy a gift! Today, I had an unexpected cancellation. So on a whim, I hopped in the car, turned on some opera, and drove around looking at cherry blossoms. My priorities will all be there waiting for me in the morning. And I will greet them with the scent of cherry blossoms on my mind.


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