Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote a message to James Harmon for his book, Take My Advice, and in her book she hits on many topics including goal setting, putting others first, and time management. The following quote really dives into the idea of time management, “Forget balance, Think choices. You must order your priorities, and only do what you can do well.” I really align with this quote because I have recently begun thinking of time and time management in new ways. I grew up imagining the idea of balance and being able to do an equal amount of things that I enjoyed, found important, or helped me sustain myself. Recently however, I have come to see that balance is just a myth and that there are better ways to think about time management.
The first new way of looking at time management for me was imaging a tilt rather than a balance. In this way, we are always not quite balanced, but we are tilting one way or another. We lean towards things we are putting more time into as opposed to staying balanced with all of our time and activities nicely weighed out on a scale. When I first read this quote that was the idea I had in mind, but that idea is still a balance. What is worse is that the idea of tilting is just an unstable balance. We may be tilting one way or another, but then we are trying to add extra weight on a system that is already unstable. In my opinion it would be better to strive for a good balance rather than a good tilt.
The most recent idea of time management that I have been exposed to, and now that I return to this quote I see it as an idea that Dr. Schlesinger would agree with, came to me from Beyond the To Do List Podcast. Sheranosher compared time management to packing a suitcase, and she did so by having everyone imagine a trip to Alaska. The best way to pack a suitcase she explains, is to lay out all of the things you want to take, and then to pack the most important things first. When you do this, you see everything that you have and make sure that you don’t leave behind anything crucial. First you tackle the most important items that you will need (your jacket, a pair of snow boots, gloves) and then you see where those extra items will fit (swim trunks & flip flops). If your most important items have taken up all of your space, then you simply leave out the swim trunks and move on. Her comparison to time management is brilliant. If you examine everything you need and want to do, then you have an easier time identifying what is important and what is not. You can take the items that you know you need to get done in your day, and pack those in your mental suitcase first, then you will see where (if at all) the extra things can fit.
Dr. Schlessinger in her quote was telling us to handle time the same way as Sheranosher, just without having to plan a trip to Alaska. She encourages us to examine our choices and be honest about which choices are priorities, and which choices are superfluous. In addition, she says to focus on those choices that we can execute fully and completely. If we can not do a choice well, then it does not make sense for it to be a priority. If we want to take that electric blanket, but do not know how to fold it into our suitcase in an efficient way, it may take up too much space and force out our more important gloves.