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Time Flies — Here’s How to Make the Most of It

Time Flies -- Here's How to Make the Most of It

Sometimes, it seems all we have to do is blink and a whole month has passed. This feeling is especially strong when we turn the calendar to August, and the countdown to fall begins. Back-to-school sales and pumpkin spice lattes complement the earlier sunsets to make us feel like yet another summer has passed us by without notice.

I’ve been feeling it lately, no doubt. The thought that’s consistently finding its way into my mind is this: “So little time, so much to do.”

It can be said of my work. Of my painting. And of my play.

But I’m also a firm believer in the idea that thoughts become things — and this is one thought I’m not willing to let become reality.

The intersection of structure and flexibility

In order to get everything done, I need a schedule. But…I also need to be able to live in the spur of the moment.

Possible? Yes. Easy? No.

One of the big keys to my flexible structure is setting up a weekly agenda, including all of the projects I have to do, appointments I need to keep, painting time, and time for fun. I carve out a few hours for most tasks or events.

Seeing it all laid out eliminates my overwhelm at housing it all in my head, and also serves as the first red flag if there’s more than I can possibly do in the time I’ve given myself.

The truth is that you can’t always predict what might come up — and it’s often the “quick” tasks that end up taking longer than I anticipate. Don’t book up every minute. The calendar will fluctuate. It’s that flexibility that allows for spontaneity.

And when there’s just too much to do? That’s when prioritization takes center stage.

The power of prioritization

Let me start with a quick story here. A few weeks ago, my lavender bushes were in full bloom. I quickly ran out and picked one bunch, put them in a vase to let them dry, and told myself I’d go out later to pick the rest.

Well, I sat back down at my desk to get back to work, and work led to the next thing, which led to the next thing. I’m sure you can see how this ends: I never picked the rest, and now I’ve missed their prime.

Had I prioritized my to-do list that day and in the days that followed, I would’ve realized that picking the lavender for a few hours was more pressing than laying out design concepts for an October project.

We often talk about productivity when it comes to work, but many of the same problems and principles apply equally to our work, our passions, and our play. (Some of us are lucky in that in many ways, those three things overlap daily.)

So when it comes to some of my summer play goals that I have yet to make good on — like taking a Learn to Ride wakeboarding class at Roseland Wake Park — or my summer work goals — finishing the winter brochure for Bristol Mountain — I know that I have to pull in the power of prioritization.

The questions I ask myself at this stage are:

  • What’s important to me?
  • What can wait?

When I stop thinking that everything needs to be done yesterday, it becomes incredibly apparent how much room we have where we think we don’t. Picking the lavender on that July afternoon couldn’t wait — timing was everything — but working on the project I have three months to complete could.

(It’s often in prioritization mode that I’m also able to realize what’s not important and what I might be able to cut entirely. Remember this: By saying no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else.)

Like a good calendar, priorities will shift. Your time is a direct reflection of your priorities — are you spending it in a way that shows your priorities off how you’d like?

Set your intentions + let the universe assist you

It’s much easier to prioritize when you’ve first set your intention(s). At an annual retreat earlier this month, my friends and I each began the weekend trip with an intention. That intention guided everything we did in our short time there, so we could each walk away fulfilled.

Setting an intention is like building a lighthouse. You can see it; sometimes you can feel it — but you know it might take some time to get to. And that’s okay.

I often try to force certain things — a design project, for example. But when I set an intention, prioritize, and give it to the time it needs, I find the universe kicks in to lend a hand.

Suddenly, I have materials, ideas, and time at my disposal that I didn’t have before, and projects, events, or even time off becomes less cumbersome, awkward, and stressful — and whatever I’m up to often ends up better than I could’ve imagined.

Write out your list. Name your intention(s). Prioritize. And most important: Drop your concern over what other people’s expectations of you are. It’s the only way you can truly align your time with your priorities.

Comments

  1. Very cool! I try to do this to the best of my ability but when life gets in the way, there’s still time…

  2. Perfectly timed essay.
    This is my last few days of summer before returning to the classroom.

    Being in my studio, floating in the pool, a full day for roaming in a museum, running to the store
    or forcing myself to stay indoors and clean the basement…
    After reading your thoughts on how to prioritize, I can enjoy this precious opportunity before it is gone.
    Thank you for illuminating how vital it is to feed my soul before I spend the next 10 months serving my students.
    Love,
    Jane

  3. You are always inspiring!

  4. Sue Scanlon says:

    As my pastor says at the end of every service, sending us back out into the world, “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of others.”

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