A few months ago, I was at a church meeting and gave a spirited speech questioning how people show up in droves after a decision has been made that they don’t agree with, but during the weekly and monthly meetings where those decisions happen, people are largely absent. Although I was largely met with appreciation for my comments, the first response I heard was that certain meeting times are better for people than others.
Similarly, I often volunteer at my kids’ schools and hear from parents all the time how they wish that they could do that, but that work won’t let them. I cook at home all the time and have to listen to people tell me that they wish they had enough time to cook. Whether it’s church or community, cooking or coaching, reading or working out, too many times, we feel like there’s just no way that we can do it. There just isn’t enough time in the day.
My struggle with all of this is that, even though we all have the same amount of time during the day, somehow, some of us make it work!
How do we do it?
Really, it’s just a question of setting priorities. Time isn’t really the issue. It never has been. Some things we just care about more than others. To be honest, I would have so much more respect for people if they just said, “You know, I really just don’t want to.” At least, in that case, you are being honest with yourself and with others.
So if these things are so important that people have to make excuses like not having enough time, what are we spending our time on?
The first culprit, of course, is work. Some people consider me lucky that my work schedule allows me to volunteer when I do. What they don’t understand is that, while they are home and resting, I am finally getting to work. I don’t volunteer instead of working, I just adjust my work schedule around my church and community efforts. Beth and I have made a conscious effort to be available to our kids and we accept that it doesn’t always have to be both of us doing it. Whether it’s taking a vacation day, working a flexible schedule, or simply requesting a change in your shift work, if you set your non-work priorities first, you can make it happen.
Some people will tell you that they are putting their kids first and, in some cases, this may be true. Mostly, I think, these people are putting their kids’ activities first. I know people who have kids in scouts, sports, music, church clubs, and multiple academic clubs. Many of these are weekly activities. The kids are just never home. We value our kids having free time, getting their schoolwork finished, and getting a full night’s sleep. Yes, they do some sports, they are all required to do scouts, and we have a couple of young musicians, but we refuse to fill their schedules during school and afterwards with daily activities to keep them busy. We give them choices, but limit the number of choices that they are allowed to make. In essence, we are teaching them early to set priorities. This will help them massively when they get to high school and beyond.
At the end of the day, you have to decide what you want most out of your days. If you want to prioritize work and make sure that bank account grows, go for it! Just don’t tell everyone that you don’t have time for the other stuff. Tell them that you’re working hard to build that account.
If you feel bad that other things are taking all of your attention, find a way to change it! You’ll either find a way or you’ll find an excuse and, frankly, I’m sick of hearing people’s excuses.
How are your priorities set? Do have “enough time” for everyone or do you somehow make it all work? Leave a comment and share your story.