When Priority is Time and Time is Precious

timeYou’re not getting to the things you want to get to. Whether they are a passion or a hobby or a great idea you’re just not getting to them.

You want them to be a priority but you’re unable to carve out time for them.

It all comes down to time. Time is measurable quantity that we are all bound by. You can’t buy it borrow it or steal it.

So by default what you spend time on is the current priority. How you spend your time is the real-time indicator of your priorities. Ponder that for a moment. Your priorities are defined by what you spend time on.

The frustration occurs when the priorities of your actions are in conflict with the priorities of your desires.

So, what do we think about that?

An initial reaction could be “Duh, nobody has enough time for all their priorities.” Another could be “I don’t pick my priorities.” Or even “When I’m done with my top priorities, I don’t have any energy left even if I have time.” These are all valid reactions.

But what about frustration? Wouldn’t we like to do something about that? Get to some of my priorities?

Well, let’ see. We must have something up our sleeve. No, it’s not a time machine.

First. Let’s see what’s out of synch. We’ll make two lists. One list will be what activities you actually spend your time like work, family, house work, friends, etc.. The other will be what you would like to spend your time on. Some items on the second list should be ones you would like on the first list. And perhaps there are activities on the first list that you like not be on the list at all. These are the points of frustration and they have a face. They’ve now become specific and real.

(Caveat: You’ll have to be the one to find the line between desired priority and fantasy. So work with me here.)


Negotiation is for when you don’t have total control over your priority list. You may have shared or assigned priorities in work or personal life.

Your job is to persuade the right person to swap something on your wish list with something on the real list. Prepare a case. Illustrate your passion for the new priority. Find someone else willing or interested in doing the undesired priority (not all undesired priorities are bad). Maybe you even pay someone to do it, like mowing the lawn.

Or maybe you negotiate with yourself. You give up bowling league to take a drawing class.

Lost Time:

When I say lost time I mean time that you actually have available but are too burned out mentally or physically to do anything. You spend the time in front of the TV or napping or whatever.

You need to find a way to get some of that time back. You can address two different avenues here.

First is to look at the activities you actually have energy to do and see which one or more of them is draining your energy. Is there anything you can do about it? Reduce physical exertion, stay away from emotionally charged situations. What kind of choices can you make to get some relief?

Second is to look at what activities you can pursue in your lost time that will give you more energy. Exercise instead of TV (or if you must TV on the treadmill). And bonus is that exercise ultimately gives you more energy and reduces stress.

Or you can look for ways to recharge. Quality downtime. Meditation is always good. Brings focus. Reduces stress. Mentally energizing and cleansing.

If you are an introvert, read a book, go to the park alone, hang out in a museum.

If you are an extrovert, well, I have no idea what an extrovert would do but you could engage with people, go to a concert, a sporting event or the mall. You could do some extreme sport thing and combine exercise with recharging.

Just find ways to recharge so you have enough energy to pursue your wish list priority.


But at the end of the day it’s about choices. Perhaps hard choices. But acknowledging the gap between desire and reality is a good first step and can make sense of the choices you want to make.

Because priority is time and time is precious? What will you prioritize today?

About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
This entry was posted in Freedom, Personality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to When Priority is Time and Time is Precious

  1. vontoast says:

    What is priority? In Steve Covey’s book The 7 habit’s of highly effective people the key thing I take away from that is a grid of four squares divided up into Important and Urgent, Not Important and Urgent, Important but Not Urgent, and Not Important and Not Urgent. The hard part is knowing where to put your to do list items. Then the second hardest part is making sure you focus on the Important but Not Urgent area so that you have nothing in the Important and Urgent section. Most of the time we tend to focus on the Not Important and Not Urgent like TV watching and Internet surfing…the pleasurable time wasters.
    Choices and priorities, the two things in life which affect what we do. How many decisions do we make in a day? If we do the low priority stuff first then does that mean that we are not living in reality, just fulfilling our desires while reality suffers? We panic when the urgency of a deadline approaches because we don’t face reality? We procrastinate? We avoid the priority until it can be avoided no longer? Why do we repeat the same choices even though we know it causes us stress? Do we ever learn to make better choices?

    • joegergen says:

      I like the grid idea. Makes it visual. I think we need a frustration grid to superimpose over it.

      I think it then comes down to choices. Think of all the variables that impact a choice. Think of how the variables change through the course of the day so that a choice made at 7 am is not a same choice made at 3 pm.


      • vontoast says:

        Timing is important with choice making. How about the number of choices. The more choices we have the more indecisive we become. Reducing the choices makes decision making easier. The Paradox of Choice is a great book that discusses this.

  2. joegergen says:

    Love it. Ah, simplification. I’ll have to check that book out.

    “Makes things as simple as possible and no simpler.” Einstein.

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