Does Your Calendar Reflect Your Life’s Priorities?

Close-up of hand writing in a daily plannerHere’s a simple test to see if your important relationships and activities are priorities in your life. Pull out your calendar and review your many tasks, appointments, and responsibilities. How many of your life’s priorities are on your calendar? How much time for family, friends, and hobbies have you scheduled for yourself? Do you find that your calendar is full of activities and responsibilities that are not particularly important to you?

When we are lying on our deathbeds, we will not be wishing we spent more time checking email or running errands. We’ll wish we watched more sunsets, spent more time with our children, danced during rain showers, and truly engaged in and enjoyed life. Yet many of us spend a lot of time—too much time—on activities (or relationships) we do not value or consider a priority.

It is too easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. We rush to get ready in the morning, rush to work, stay busy throughout the day, then rush pick up the kids, make dinner, check email, and then collapse in bed and get ready to do it again the next day. As a result, people are more anxious, over-committed, and persistently overwhelmed. And they have less time and energy for relationships and interactions that are most important to them.

Life does not have to be this way. You can make changes so that your life’s priorities and values are aligned with how you actually spend your time. For many people, this might sound wonderful but idealistic and unrealistic. So let’s break it down into manageable pieces.

First, write a list of the people, things, and responsibilities that are important to you. List what you care about and truly value. Answer the following questions to create the list:

  • Who is important to you?
  • What is important to you?
  • How do you enjoy spending your time?
  • Who do you enjoy spending time with?

Before rearranging your schedule and vowing to make a complete overhaul in your life, ask yourself, “Am I willing to make the necessary changes and sacrifices to align my schedule with my priorities?” Recognize that change is not easy and it will require you to give up something. To create lasting change, you must be honest with yourself about your willingness to make change and let go of some of what you presently do.

You should also be clear with yourself about what you are willing to change or sacrifice. You cannot have 100% of everything you want in a given moment. It is impossible to devote 100% of your time to your family, 100% of your time to your career, and 100% of your time to your friends simultaneously. You can devote part of yourself and part of your energy to various people and activities. What parts are you willing to give up or sacrifice to give your priorities, your important relationships, the attention they require?

Now that you know what and who is important to you, what you are willing (or not willing) to change, and what sacrifices you will make, you can return to your calendar. Removing some appointments and responsibilities is the only way to effectively add what is most important to you. We have only 24 hours in each day; how will you spend your time?

Share your story with us in the comments section below! How have you made time for the priorities in your life? How do you struggle to do so? Let’s learn from each other.

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  • maryjean

    maryjean

    June 3rd, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    I needed to read this!

  • Tonya Ladipo

    Tonya Ladipo

    June 3rd, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    So glad it was helpful Maryjean!

  • Shannon

    Shannon

    June 3rd, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Well I did it and looked and sadly it was as I expected- nothing really reflects things for me. It all revolves around meetings for work and getting the kids places and appointments, etc. Nothing for me there that brings me too much enjoyment I should say, just a whole bunch of running around and getting things done for other people and other people place to place. I haven’t given it too much thought until I saw this and decided to take on the challenge- pretty eye opening.

  • mitch g

    mitch g

    June 4th, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    If I did not purposely scedule time just for me in my calendar then that time would never be there.

    I feel guilty on some levels by taking that time for me but when I don’t and try to just kind of fly under the radar it never really works and I find that I am over committed and have very little time in my day to do the things that I enjoy just for me.

    I schedule my workouts, my dates, my haircuts and even the occasional massage just to make sure that there are at least a few hours in the week that I can actually look forward to.

    It is not always easy to say no to other people to make sure that I get to keep my appointments but I find that when I try to stand my ground and keep myself a priority then I feel better about helping others when they do need it.

  • Amy

    Amy

    June 5th, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    There are days when I am so overbooked with getting everyone else here and there that I fall intoo bed that night wondering what in the heck I am doing. And then I remember, oh yeah, I’m a mom, thsi is what you do, and you take advantage of all that time you have in the car with your kids when they can’t get away from you and use it to talk about the things going on in their daily lives. They won’t always be there for you to do that, and this is a good way to connect when you feel like you are being torn in a million directions and so are they. It can be your time together that you may not have at the dinner table anymore, so I have chosen to at aleast try to use that time alone together wisely.

  • Dennis

    Dennis

    June 6th, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Thank goodness I looked over mine and my calendar and appointments seem to hold a little bit of everything- stuff for work, stuff for the family, things to me. I think that I am a pretty good balance and this shows that I definitely have a wide variety of things going on in our life!

  • claira

    claira

    June 8th, 2014 at 5:09 AM

    If you look at your agenda and it is pretty much dominated by one person or one thing then you know that there is a balance issue somewhere in your life. If you are single and it all revolves around work, or if you are married and it all revolves around the kids, then take this as an opportunity to learn what you may could do to even some of that out so that life feels a little more balanced and a lot less lopsided again. Of course there will always be a time when you feel like life, your own life, is overshadowed by people or events that are not necessarily your main priority all the time; however, you can’t let it be this way all the time and think that ultimately this is going to be fulfilling for you.

  • Tonya Ladipo

    Tonya Ladipo

    June 8th, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    Our calendars are really revealing of our lives. When making change, start small. Try scheduling 15 minutes a week for yourself or whatever is important. Set an alarm to remind you that your time is starting!

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    July 14th, 2015 at 6:06 PM

    My calendar is almost always empty.

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