Summer vacation has been underway for a bit now, and the truth of the following statement keeps hitting me: We will always have too much to do and too little time.
Even though school has ended for the summer, the to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter (the “summer goals” list is rather ambitious). There are books to read, jobs to work, and friends to see. Blogging takes up time and so does exercise. Family is a must. Homework is still present. Unavoidable conflicts come up. Projects are abundant. And sometimes I want to sleep!
I’m no exception though. Everyone is busy. Everyone has things to do, responsibilities to fulfill, and obligations to carry out. And the bottom line is this: we only have 24 hours in a day. But I think it’s comforting to remember that we are in the same boat as everyone else. In fact, every human being who has ever lived has only had 24 hours in a day. Jesus? 24 hours in a day. Martin Luther King Jr.? 24 hours in a day. Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Lebron James, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg? 24 hours in a day. Everything that anyone has accomplished has been achieved with only 24 hours in a day.
All of a sudden our to-do lists seem a little shorter, don’t they?
People may say “I don’t have time”, but this is not true. They should say “I don’t have free time, given the activities I choose to do in my not-free time”. You have the same amount of time as me. I have the same amount as Bill Gates. My uncle has the same amount as your friend Tony. Joe the carpenter has the same amount as Lady Gaga. We all have 24 hours a day.
Having said that, we can only cram so much into that 24 hour window. Even proper prioritizing and time management cannot give anyone the ability to do absolutely everything. In life we must choose; we can only accomplish so many things. For this reason, it’s incredibly important that the relatively few things we do accomplish are the most important things that we need to accomplish. It may also be helpful to cut out all of the things of little or no importance. Too many things weighing us down keeps us from giving our best effort because it drains our energy and hopes of ever finishing.
At the end of the day, sometimes I realize I spent an hour on Facebook but only 15 minutes reading. Then I ask, “Wait a second, is Facebook four times more important than reading? [No!] Then why did I spend four times more time on Facebook?” I realize this happens when our priorities are unclear. And I’ve also learned the following: Where we invest our time says a lot about our values, and clear values help us invest our time. Sometimes my values and time commitments don’t align, and then I readjust.
Each night when we go to bed, many things will be left undone. Shouldn’t those be the least important things on our list? Nothing is worse than going to bed with a lot of small, meaningless tasks accomplished at the expense of more important ones. That is where we need prioritizing and discipline. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Fun needs to be built in to our schedules to allow for the refreshment of mind and body. Fun is essential to becoming our best. So have fun! Ideally, fun will be infused with everything else, and if that happens, then you’re really rockin’!
Thankfully, summer break is still young. These thoughts have reminded me that I need to readjust my schedule now so that my top goals get done before it’s too late. I can’t do everything, but dang-it, I can do a few things! And they’re going to be the most important things in the world to me. And that’s that!
Accordingly, my best piece of advice to you is this: There will never be enough time, so do the most important things you can in the time you have. The time will pass anyway; put it to good use!
Photo by iotdfi