Time Management 1: Prioritizing

Bags of TimeLike the last post, today’s post is the result of a request—or in this case two requests—in comments.

Dominic Faith from P/S Public Storage wrote:

Well Lillie, after reading your posts and comments, I feel that you should write a post on how to manage time. Many people want to know how you are so active with the blogs without compromising on your personal life and other routine things. May be a few tips would help us as well because I grow frustrated when after a week I check my blogs and have a huge number of comments to reply! Please share your strategy with us. Thanks.

Gareth Brown from Bentley Walker followed up with:

Dominic has said right what I wanted to. I understand this because I too have a blog and I get stressed out in checking it every now and then and moderating queries followed by answering questions. I want to know how can I manage time and give adequate attention to my blog while performing routine activities like office, family, travel etc. Thanks.

My initial reaction was that I’m certainly no expert on time management, so anything I would write on the subject wouldn’t be very helpful. However, after giving it some consideration, I decided to tell you what I do for two reasons:

  1. Perhaps something I do will be helpful to someone.
  2. Maybe some people will feel less guilty to know they aren’t alone in feeling overwhelmed with so many things to do and so little time to do them all.

The most important thing in managing time, I believe, is determining what is most important to you. None of us will ever get everything done that we want to do or that we feel we should do. The key is to spend most of our time on things that matter most to us.

I was blessed to have a wake-up call that made me realize I had to take action on my dream if I ever wanted to make it happen. It’s so easy to drift through life and put off for tomorrow what we want to do so we can do what we think we have to do today.

I’m not advocating anyone fail to fulfill their responsibilities or honor their commitments. I started writing shortly after I had a stroke, but I didn’t become a full-time writer for several years. I owned an interior landscape company, and I took the time I needed to sell the business to a company that promised to keep my employees and to serve my clients the same way I did. Though I realized I couldn’t continue to delay my dream, I didn’t recklessly abandon my current obligations. What I did was put writing high on my list of priorities. I changed my schedule so I could spend all day Saturday working on my novel. That meant I had to give up some things I had been doing on my weekends. Writing was more important to me, so I made time for it.

You’ve probably heard the saying you can have anything you want in life, but you can’t have everything. Only you can determine what you want in life…and what you are willing to give up to get it.

A woman I know told me that writing is her first priority. “I figure I can do less important things—like eating, bathing, and sleeping—when my book is finished.” Most people probably wouldn’t give up eating or sleeping, and most of their friends wouldn’t want them to give up bathing. 🙂 But her hyperbole emphasizes how important writing is to her.

Priorities will shift over time and through varying circumstances. After Dream or Destiny was released, I started writing a novel about a secondary character (Bonita) in Dream or Destiny and expected to finish that novel and another one based on a different secondary character (Tess). However, my circumstances have changed. My husband now needs more help and attention, and I am gladly giving him my time, attention, and assistance. At this point in my life, writing fiction has moved far down in my priority list. Jack is my top priority.

Meeting my clients’ needs is also high in importance. I honor the commitments I make to the people who trust me to edit or write for them, so client work gets done before projects of lesser importance.

I have always volunteered many hours each week to my church. Over the last couple of years, I have turned many of my responsibilities over to others. Although volunteering is important to me, it has moved down the priority list as family responsibilities have moved up.

Everyone needs down time—time to relax and recuperate. Reading is my favorite pastime, but I don’t get many opportunities to sit and read for hours. Instead, I have a book on my Kindle at the dining table so I can read when I’m eating a meal or having a snack without Jack. I have another on my Kindle for PC so I can read a few paragraphs while I’m waiting for a file to download. I have another on my laptop for the weekend or holiday occasions when I can sit in the den with Jack and read for hours. Reading in snatches this way, I’ve read 26 books and reviewed them on Goodreads so far this year.

My other hobby is blogging.The two commenters asking my advice were impressed that I had time to reply to every comment and to post the monthly thank-you post. Interacting with commenters is important to me, so I will choose to moderate and reply to comments rather than do something else that is lower on my priority list. I don’t get everything done, but—because it is a high priority—I usually do a good job of keeping up with comments on my blog.

When you look at managing your time, first establish your priorities. Only you can decide what is most important to you, based on your individual circumstances, values, obligations, and interests. You will never be able to do everything, but you can do anything.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the tools and systems I use for organization.

Creative Commons License photo credit: garryknight,

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