"Until you value yourself, you won't value your time.
Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."
— M. Scott Peck
Stephen Covey said it best: “Begin with the end in mind.” I think that is sound principle by which
to live. To be satisfied with the outcome of my life, I need to have a clear vision of what it would
be like to reflect on my life as I neared the end of my days. What legacy did I leave? Whom did I
help? Do I have any regrets? Much like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, I would question
whether my existence even mattered. For me to feel comfortable as I leave this world, I would need
to know that I, in some way, contributed something meaningful. I am not of a great scientific mind
so it is not within me to find a cure for cancer or discover an environmentally friendly, inexpensive
fuel source. Yet, I hope that I will leave this earth a slightly better place for having been here.
Okay, so I am prone to venturing off on deep philosophical tangents. Nonetheless, I need to feel that
I am spending the time I have in a way that both fulfills me and serves a useful purpose. Life is so
fleeting! We truly never know how much or how little time we have left. Given that large variable, I
concluded that the only way to feel comfortable that I have lived well is to live in such a way that
if today were my last day, I wouldn’t have any regrets. The key then, is prioritization. I identified
the things that matter most to me. These are the areas to which I dedicate the greatest amount of my
time. In essence, I budget my time in the same way I budget my money. Take care of the important things
first, and once those are covered, the rest can be spent at will.
Determining priorities is often challenging. With all the modern-day conveniences, we ought to have
more free time than our ancestors did; yet exactly the opposite is true. Because we can accomplish
tasks so much faster, we try to do so many more. While I believe that we can do anything we set our
mind to, I don’t believe we can do everything. Recognizing my limitations keeps me sane. Understanding
my priorities gives me peace of mind.
What I am about to say will probably make many of you cringe and perhaps even gasp, so brace yourself.
I don’t always make the bed. I have occasionally gone to bed and left dinner dishes in the sink. I have
accepted that I will never win an award from Good Housekeeping. Mind you, I like order and tidiness. I
prefer to have the house clean and neat. The harsh reality is that sometimes I have to choose between
washing dishes and helping my daughter with homework, or between family time and dusting. On those
occasions, housework be darned! Going back to my earlier philosophical position, I seriously doubt
that I will lie on my deathbed wishing I had spent more time cleaning. I am not in any way being critical
of those who make housework a priority. It simply is way down on my personal list. I allocate time for it,
I do it whenever possible, but if something has to get shifted, it is the first thing to go.
Having said that, it is rather obvious that family ranks very high on my list. My other priorities are
areas where I feel I am making a positive difference in someone’s life. If you read my last article, you
know that feeding the hungry is another top priority. Also on my list are volunteering at school and in
the community, taking time for myself, helping friends, working, and responding to letters from readers.
As long as I take care of these areas, everything else seems to fall into place. So often, people come
to me seeking advice on how to get their lives in balance. My response is always the same: plan your
days so that if you run out of time, you’ve already accomplished the important things. You lose a lot
less sleep that way.
Another key strategy for me is planning. Planning and scheduling help me to be realistic about what I
can reasonably accomplish. Somehow, seeing it on paper makes it easier to admit that there are not
enough hours in the day to do everything. The logical side of me helps the emotional side avoid feeling
guilty about taking lower priority items off the list. And, while it may be somewhat of a contradiction,
careful planning allows spontaneity. I plan time for the things I need to accomplish, including “buffer
time” to deal with the unexpected. By knowing in advance what needs to be done and having timeframes
slotted for each item, I can more easily rearrange tasks when the urge strikes to do something unplanned.
I also recognize that living a meaningful life begins with taking care of me. If I don’t have adequate
time to recharge my internal battery, I become tired, cranky, and resentful when I am taking care of
others. One thing I know to be true is I must begin my day with quiet reflective time alone. I purposely
wake up a full hour before I need to begin getting ready so that I have time to pray, sip my coffee,
read the news, and catch up on the forum. My family is well aware that talking to me during this time
could lead to serious bodily injury. This is a characteristic I must have inherited from my mother.
When I was in second grade, we had an assignment that required asking our mother something in the
morning before school. When the teacher questioned me on why I hadn’t complied, I explained
that “My mom is a b*tch until she has at least 3 cups of coffee. She was only on her second cup when
I left for school.” The teacher promptly phoned my house only to have my mother confirm that what I
had said was in fact not only true, but also a direct quote. Simply stated, I know I have to be one
of my priorities. As long as I schedule time for myself, I look forward to the time I spend on
Your priorities may be very different from mine. Values are such a personal issue that I would never
seek to impose mine upon others. Yet, clearly understanding what is important to you is the first
step in leading a balanced, fulfilled life. Patricia Fripp said “There is no point doing well that
which you should not be doing at all.” I interpret that to mean that anything that does not support
my values and long term goals, is simply not worthy of my time. When it comes right down to it, I
am much more frugal with my time than I am with my money. I can always make more money; I will never
have more than 24 hours in a day. More importantly, I have no idea how many days I have left, so I
will treat each one as though it were my last.
Jo Cordi Sica
SPHR Organizational Development
Copyright © September 2003 Jo Cordi Sica and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Neil E. Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Delivered Right To Your Door Nationwide!
Best Of All... They Go From Freezer To Table In About 10 Minutes!
| "A rather splendid company called Home Bistro have put their
talented chefs Dennis Chauvin and Scott Stillman to work on creating complete low carb meals that would rival most
fine restaurants. ...these meals are exceptional. Our kudos to the
— Low Carb Luxury Review :: December 3, 2002.
Call for a Free Catalog!