The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine 



    September 22, 2003    PAGE FOUR      
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      Making Time Matter by Jo Cordi Sica

                                             "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 others.

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 and Training
                  jwcordi@aol.com

Copyright © September 2003  Jo Cordi Sica and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003  Neil E. Beaty and Low Carb Luxury




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