How to Prioritize Time & Keep Commitments
I was 17 when I bought my first car. With it, the pearly gates of freedom opened and I had the world at my fingertips--just as long as I kept them at 10 and 2. I was at the end of high school and learning how to manage my own schedule. That itself was like a part-time job; I've always kept busy, so it's no wonder time management became an issue.
Have you ever said "yes" to a friend, only to drop out later because you double booked?
Canceled plans when something else came up you wanted to do more?
Been so busy it made you overwhelmed, and in a panic cancelled on people because it felt like too much?
Truth is, this happens to a lot of us.
I've learned the hard way that double booking, overbooking, and cancelling plans for "better" or easier ones hurts people, hurts our relationships with each other.
But there are ways to be wise with our time and manage it well. Keeping priorities and holding to commitments can be hard, but we can do it!
Know your priorities before making plans.
Take time before your calendar fills up and think about what's most important. Do you have schoolwork that needs to get done? Then homework time might be a priority. Have friends you haven't seen in a while and you know hanging out is really important? Maybe your time with them comes first. It's hard to say "yes" or "no" in the moment if you don't know whether that time is even a priority.
I often start the week off looking at my calendar, reminding myself those blue boxes of used up time are priorities. Usually if it's in my calendar, that means it's important to me. And if it's important, that means other opportunities that may come up will have to work around that protected time.
I volunteer at my martial arts school as an instructor on Monday nights. That time is always protected. If my schedule opens up another night during the week, I've made the conscious decision that I'll choose to go there instead of making other plans.
Why? Because it's important to me.
If you've said "yes," that means you're also saying "no."
Choosing to do something also means making the decision to not do other things. It's good to know that if you're planning on keeping your commitments. Yes, opportunities pop up last minute or present themselves to us after we've said "yes" to something else. The second opportunity can be tempting.
But you already said yes.
And if you've already said that, barring emergencies or weather or something else out of your control, that yes is a conscious no to other things. You're telling people you're honoring their time by keeping your commitment.
When I book a photography job, that time is precious to me and I keep my word to my clients and friends. If someone wants to do things during photo shoot time, it's my job to decline. But likewise, if I've chosen to be there for a friend and a job opportunity comes along, I must decline or work around what my friend and I are doing.
Why? Because I've already said "yes" and I'm keeping myself to that commitment!
Staying true to your word shows love to the people in your life.
One of the best ways to show people we love them is to be there for them, with them, to just be there. How can we do that when we cancel plans all the time? It's hard, but keeping your word is the mark of a good friend, a good businessperson, a good family member. And a maturing adult.
Keeping your word shows people you care about them. It tells them they're important to you. Staying true to your word expresses love not just by what you say, but also by backing it with your actions. We get to love and encourage people, reminding them how much value they have by showing them!
And honestly, you probably know the sting of coming in second place.
The hurt in your stomach as a friend cancels when you'd been looking forward to seeing her for weeks. The friend who didn't show up to your birthday party because she got a better offer. Or the one who's perpetually too busy to even enjoy life, let alone spend time with you.
But we've also been that friend.
We chose to go back on our word; we let priorities fly away and didn't keep promises. We said yes to the concert, which meant ditching the friend that evening even though she wanted to hang with us. We all know the sting, and we also know what it's like to sting someone else. Sometimes we do it without even realizing it, because we're only focused on ourselves and getting what we want in that moment. It's not right, and it tells people we don't actually value them, their time, that relationship.
So the best way to keep priorities and commitments is just that--keep to them! Ask a girlfriend to help you stay accountable, because sometimes it is hard to do it on our own.
Let's show people love not just in our words, but through our actions too.