Time Priorities versus Values

I have had multiple clients bring up this same issue in the past two months. They close out their day while telling themselves they didn't get anything done that day. However, when I question these same women on how they spent their time, they often got up earlier than they wanted to, hustled from one activity to another, didn't take bathroom and lunch breaks, ate dinner over the sink or in their car, and went to bed later than they meant to.

Can you reconcile the thought, "I didn't get anything done," with all the action? I can't.

When we are skipping our basic needs and not allowing ourselves proper rest, we are doing something by definition.

The problem isn't inaction. These ladies aren't giving themselves credit for the things they are doing.

Why do you think that is?

The issue is that they do not value how they are spending their time. And, frankly, if you don't value the things you do, no one else will either. This will reinforce your belief that you aren't doing anything.

How do you fix it?

You have to identify your values and time priorities. Values are the anchors in your life - the things that you hold sacred. Some of my values are family, spirituality, lifetime learning, entrepreneurship, and self-care.

Time priorities are how you will spend your time. Although family is a significant value for me, I spend more time in my office than I do directly with my kids and husband. Our time priorities are usually related to our values, but they aren't directly correlated. Work ranks higher for me than family as a time priority, but not as a value.

When I know my values and my time priorities, I can look at my calendar and see how I am spending my time. If I think that I am not getting things done, it is for one of two reasons.

1) I am spending time on things that are not values and time priorities for me.

2) I am judging my activities as unworthy, not because they don't matter to me, but because I think other people don't find them valuable.

This second one is so insidious. If family is a value, I may spend time buying groceries to feed my people, doing laundry so they sleep on clean sheets, and driving the carpool to be available when the kids are the most chatty. These don't sound like noble pursuits, and you don't get gold stars for them. It is easy to dismiss them as "getting nothing done" based on the feedback of society. However, if family is a value, I am getting some of the most important things done, and I need to give myself some credit.

What doesn't count for you? Do you like your reason for dismissing it as a contribution?

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