What you have to do when you run out of it.
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I was recently asked how I learned to make the time necessary to accommodate the many activities I have been involved with over the years. Actually, it's not too difficult to answer: children. Prior to my wife and I starting a family years ago we both worked at separate companies and, because we were still young (in our twenties), we would frequently work late into the night. Often we would meet afterwards for a bite to eat somewhere. On the weekends we would have our own pet projects. I particularly relished mornings where we would devour the newspaper over a pot of coffee while listening to some Jazz or Sinatra in the background. But this all came to an abrupt end when our first child was born. It's truly amazing how a baby can monopolize your time. Life as I had known it was over, not that I minded as this is what we had intended all along, I just never realized the substantial difference it would make in our lives.
I quickly learned that I couldn't operate "business as usual" anymore. Whereas I used to get to work by 8:00am and stay later, now I found myself arising much earlier and getting to work by 6:00am (5:30am was not uncommon). This afforded me the opportunity to stay on top of things. As most of my coworkers didn't arrive until 8:30am the office was quiet and I found I could get quite a bit of work done before everyone arrived. This became such a habit with me that years after the kids had grown up, I still come into work fairly early.
As my children grew up, I suddenly found myself involved with school functions, youth sports, scouting, etc., you get the idea. It was around this time that I started to slowly back away from responsibilities in other volunteer organizations. In essence, I was learning to prioritize my time. I realized I had a small window of opportunity to work with my kids and try to be an important part of their lives, and I like to believe I made the right decision, but these were the tiring years as it was common for me to be out attending meetings or being at a ball field five or six nights a week. As the kids got older, I was able to back away from the student related activities and finally regained some time for other activities.
If I learned anything from this experience, it was that "making time" meant managing your shifting priorities. You obviously can't be everywhere and do everything, so you have to start asking yourself what is important to you. Some people may want to concentrate purely on their professional careers, others on their family or community. It is quite a balancing act, something that will test the stamina of both your spouse and yourself. As in any partnership, I found communications was key to success so that we both agreed on our course of action, understood each other's schedules, and helped each other whenever necessary. This, of course, also meant sacrifice on both of our parts.
Had it not been for children, my wife and I would probably still have leisurely weekends and late night suppers. We probably would have traveled more as well, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. To me, "making time" represents a life changing experience where I had to change my sleeping and work schedules, prioritize my activities, and make certain sacrifices. Although I caution you not to bite off more than you can chew, I encourage you to get involved with something, be it for your family, your community, your company or profession. Go the extra mile. We have enough people sitting on the sidelines. If everyone did just one thing, think of how far ahead we would be.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.