I’ve had this sticky note on my computer for a few years now. It even made the move from our old house to the one we are in now. At the time I really used it to remember to schedule things, write them down, make a list, get tons of stuff done. That was during what I call my “busy” years. That was during the time when I filled every single minute with some sort of activity. One more errand, one more project to do, one more committee to be on, one more meeting to attend. There was very little rest, very little quiet or peace, but there was a lot of busyness in every single day. Through circumstances and intention my days are much less busy, my priorities have shifted. I still make my lists and keep a schedule, of course, but I intentionally try NOT to fill every single minute of each day.
Three years ago, during the midst of my busyness craze, my father became sick. A lot of my commitments had to take a back seat and others just fell by the wayside. I spent hours on the road back and forth, working with my brother on finding care and moving my parents. I began spending large amounts of time taking on my father’s insurance care, financial matters. I also made planned and many unplanned emergency visits to home, his assisted living residence and hospitals. When my father passed away I was unable to take up the busyness again. My mother wasn’t in the greatest of health herself so my brother and I were there to help her. We made decisions, handled finances, prepared their home to sell. We were there to just spend time with my mother as she learned to live alone. My brother and I juggled and worked together with her care. Then when my brother unexpectedly passed away, everything shifted and changed. Where I was able to spend my time totally changed. I had absolutely no desire and no energy to even think about getting back into the busyness game. And I was so in the middle of “The Sandwich Generation” trying to care for my mother out of town and care for my family at home, there wasn’t a minute left to take on unnecessary busyness.
I said “no” to many, many things. I was not a Room Mom, a Team Mom, and was not on any form of committee that required a lot of commitment. I just could not schedule a week without having something come up that would pull me out of town. I was “on call” all the time.
Now things have slowed down. Unfortunately I lost my mother in the Spring. I have more free time now. Be careful what you wish for. I now have space and time to get busy again. However, I have chosen to not jump back in. I choose to pick my commitments very carefully. I do not fill every single minute with stuff. I do not say “yes” to every request that comes my way. I sit. I think. I reflect. I am available when a boy gets sick. I can be available when something unexpected comes up. Sometimes I think I should be seeking out more work, more volunteering, more teaching, and for some reason I hesitate.
I prioritize my time every day. I still make lists. I still mark things off the list. I get up early before the rest of the house to have some time to read and pray. I take the time to plan healthy meals and cook for my boys. I schedule my own workouts, whether it is a walk, a yoga class, extra stretching, whatever my body needs outside of what my clients need when I am leading a class. I volunteer at school in one job and am doing the same at my church. I attend football games, baseball games, track meets, wrestling meets, whatever season happens. Oftentimes I have some empty time during the day and I choose not to feel guilty. I use the time to NOT run around like a chicken with my head cut off. You know that feeling and that look of women. It’s not pretty. These things have become my priorities. These things I choose to do to help me with my longterm goals.
We are asked to do so much every day. We are called upon to be and do and become for so many folks, groups, committees and causes. We can find ourselves so very fragmented and can forget what the priorities actually are.
My brother made it a priority to enjoy each day – he had so much fun every day. I’m not saying it’s all about having fun, but, for me, I have found that prioritizing my time allows me to enjoy each day. I can have time for some fun. I can decide what I say “yes” to and what I can say “no” to. I have time for my real priorities.
Where do you spend your time? Does it reflect your priorities? Do you know what your priorities are – and if they match up with your goals? Could people look at you and know what is important?