I sat down on the couch to write this post and just as soon as I started a little girl baking cookies in the kitchen with her grandma wanted to show me something. I set the computer down and went to admire her ‘red cookie’, sugar cookie dough saturated with red sugar crystals. On my way back to the computer I saw a birthday card I needed to finish addressing, so I did. I finally sat back down and the the US Men’s hockey team scored against Slovakia and I stopped to watch. Maybe I should check Facebook. And email. Pinterest?
Okay, Erin – focus. You’re supposed to be writing about using your time well!
Time is our most precious limited resource. If we don’t protect it from the myriad of distractions that vie for our attention we lose it, and fast. With small children and a busy husband there simply are not enough hours in the day to care for my family and myself and invest in relationships unless I cut out things that just aren’t as important. Even then there’s not always enough minutes and hours to go around. This means saying ‘no’ to things I want to do but won’t help me achieve my goals and saying ‘yes’ to things I don’t particularly want to do (like cleaning the kitchen at 9 pm) because it will help me achieve my goals (feeding my family a healthy breakfast).
It’s the little decisions throughout the day that allow us to accomplish what we need to in the short and long term. For me this means:
- being ruthless with what I let show up on my social media and in my inbox
- not getting on Pinterest more than a couple of times a week
- only watching movies and the rare TV show that I really want to see
- reading books that will enrich and not just entertain me
- getting up before my kids (unless Eleanor gets up right after I do—then we both go back to bed)
- setting goals for the week—this is new for me
- being disciplined and diligent in housework, knowing I’ll feel MUCH better when it’s done and not hanging over me
Protecting your time might look completely different for you. Maybe a screen sabbath? Maybe spending less time on an activity or hobby or not aimless surfing the internet? It all depends on what your goals and priorities are and what pulls you away from them. The important thing is to make the focus of what you spend your time on the things that matter the most to you, the things that at the end of the day you will be glad to have done. It is hard to consistently make the right choice. I definitely struggle with it. But as we choose to do the best thing (which sometimes is ‘unproductive’) we fill our lives with that which gives them meaning and that is what we’re really after.