Our priorities say a lot about us.
What we claim are our priorities also says a lot about us…
[Ironically, those two lines above are all that WordPress managed to save of this post. I hit ‘publish’, WordPress came up with some sort of error type screen, and promptly swallowed the rest of the post. I then had to decide whether the post was sufficiently important to prioritise rewriting it. I’m not convinced, but I’m doing it anyway…]
You see, if you believe what I told you, you’d think my main priorities are; God, family, church, friends and the role to which we believe we are called.
But what about if you wanted to find out my priorities without asking me? What if a random stranger followed me round for a couple of days and tried to establish what my priorities are, based simply on looking at the things to which I devote my time? I’m not sure the stranger would conclude my priorities are what I claim they are. I’m not sure I’d really like the stranger’s conclusions at all…
I said some time ago (on a different blog) that I quite fancy the idea of having a documentary made about me. They’re all the rage at the moment – documentaries about ‘normal people’ (I’d obviously struggle to fit into that category…). I figure I’d come out of it looking pretty good (I’m not talking physically, here!) But if, by some amazing twist of fortune, I did come out of it looking even slightly passable, it would be for one simple reason. It would be because I would be good. The fact of the matter is, this would require me to change. I could not live life like I live and have a documentary made that looked anywhere near flattering. I would have to up my game considerably. I’d have to prioritise my so-called priorities.
I guess the main reason I’m saying all this is that I came to a startling realisation a while back. It’s a conclusion that I didn’t really like, but I think it’s true. Here it is:
We have time for everything we prioritise.
You might need to say that to yourself a couple of times to get what I mean. But I think it often is that simple. You won’t discover my true priorities by listening to what I say. You’ll discover my true priorities by watching what I do. The things that I actually put first in my life are my priorities, whether or not I like to admit it.
Take blogging for example. Blogging is something which I’m trying to devote some quality time to [I didn’t have in mind to type posts twice, but there we go!]. But this last week, nothing of any great significance has happened in this area. Sure, I could point to the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-a-very-awake-child. But the fact is, other things have managed to fit in even if blogging hasn’t. Yes, some of these things are more important than blogging, like looking after the boys, and putting in a few hours at work. But there are also things that aren’t quite so vital. Here’s what my browsing history reveals about some of the less vital uses of my computer:
- looking at what friend’s houses are on the market for/bought for/sold for/worth
- browsing imdb for films that can be fused with band names (I blame Martin) 😉
- Doing random quizzes on the BBC website
- Watching stuff on YouTube
- Reading about the nightmares people have with Yodel (a courier company)
- Browsing BMW prices (though that’s for a blog post … honest)
Now, none of these things is intrinsically bad (though the top one does fit neatly into the ‘disturbing stalker behaviour’ category). A lot of it was just ‘chilling out’. But was it the best use of my time? You see, although I put it down as chilling out, it was, more accurately, a complete lack of discipline on my part. It wasn’t like I set aside half an hour to relax by mooching around the internet. No, there were other things I could and should have been doing, but I just let myself get distracted. My priority became me (and I’m inherently a bit workshy) and stopped being any of the priorities I claim to be mine.
So, this week, I’m going to try to make sure my time is used more for what I claim to be my priorities and less for the other stuff. I’ve had to do lists for a long time (some of the things on my to do list also date back a long time…) but one thing I’ve found helpful in the last few days, which I intend to carry on for a while, it putting priorities on my to do list. I’ve chosen five things that are priorities. Some are the genuinely urgent, must-do things, others are things that tend to drop off the bottom of every day’s list (like cleaning out the chickens). By putting 1 to 5 next to them, they seem to be more likely to be done. On the downside, the other things don’t necessarily get done (I’m probably thinking to myself, ‘well, they’re not so important’…) but that’s something I’ll work on!
Over to you:
How do you set your priorities?
How do you make sure that the things you actually do are the important things?
[I’m a bit gutted, because my original two questions were much more clever … but I have forgotten how they were worded!]