Busy day? check.
Not enough hours in the day? check.
Feel like your priorities are all mixed up? check.
Then this one's for you.
Up until recently, I told myself "I just want ten more hours in the day. Only then could I get everything done that I need to!" But the truth is, we would likely still manage our time exactly the same as we habitually do now with even more hours in the day. We'd still find every excuse in the book to skip out on those things that matter most. We, as a society, are collectively on the struggle bus when it comes to managing our priorities. And friend, that's okay. Cause managing priorities and finding balance are hard work. But let me share this with you-a quote that changed my life by Laura Vanderkam:
"You have fewer than one thousand Saturdays with each child in your care before he or she is grown up." Wait, just one thousand?!? That's like tomorrow!
Phew, grab me the tissue box. That was all that I needed to hear to take action and get my priorities in check. To find my balance.
We must shut out the not-so-important and reel in the real-important.
It's not so much what we prioritize, but more importantly how we balance the priorities we've set.
My Army Chaplain told me something in December of 2012 that's never left my rolodex of favorite quotes since: "You can't have two number one priorities. If your priorities aren't in order, and if you aren't managing them individually, then your number five will trump your number one and your number two will collide with your number three. Priorities are priorities for a reason. We must manage them as such."
I was the girl who pulled all nighters EVERY SINGLE TEST in college because I put off studying until the last minute. I was the young woman who let debt pile up so high that my credit was shot and I thought I was doomed for life. I was the wife who cared so much more about what others thought about me than my own husband.
Until I started focusing on balance. Until I started realizing that I HAD to set priorities and take actions to tend to those priorities every single day. It was only then that I graduated with honors, came out of nearly $100,000 of debt and saved my marriage.
If something is worthy of being a priority in your life, then it is worthy of being tended to.
I call this "tending to": filling up the priority's bucket.
Think of your priorities like they are buckets. When you make something a priority, you are consciously telling yourself that this subject is SO important to me that I must take care of it. I must keep it filled with water to survive. Now don't get me wrong, different seasons of life may call for different amounts of water, but nevertheless-if it's a priority, it needs water. The more priorities you add, the more water you need to spread amongst all of your buckets. Imagine your water is time, energy, love, care, compassion, money, attention, desire, discipline and focus. We likely don't have enough of this to share evenly amongst all of our priority buckets, right? And even if we think we do, we're likely sacrificing in one for another, rather than consciously tending to each bucket alone.
And this is where we learn to balance.
I'm so often asked how in the world I manage all of the things that I do. I'm a Christian, always seeking after more truth. I'm a wife, yearning to love my husband more. I'm a mom, desperately wanting to be more present for my girls. I'm an Active Duty Army Officer, ready to accomplish every mission assigned to me with initiative. I'm an entrepreneur, eager to grow and learn and give back. I'm a 31 year old woman, chasing after health and fitness goals postpartum. And, I'm currently in a season of grief-holding on to hope for a better tomorrow. This is me right now. Learning to balance these priorities I've set.
Not necessarily learning what buckets can be less filled than others. Rather, learning how to fill my buckets with the amount of water they need to survive.
Here is how I balance my priorities.
The decisions we make and actions we take must consciously meet the needs of our priorities every day. We must fill up the buckets for the most critical aspects of our lives so they don't run dry. When certain buckets have more water than others, balance will be lost. We must fill our priority buckets up every day with the amount of water they need to survive. However little. However grand. Give them what they need.
I encourage you to read "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast" by Laura Vanderkam. I've learned so many useful tips and tricks to apply to this very subject. Since reading the book, I've become completely enthralled with the idea of waking up early. Now, mind you, I'm very used to it having been in the Army for seven years. But now, it's not a dreaded alarm clock. Instead, I'm anxious for my alarm to go off at 5 a.m. every morning to start my day reading the Bible and filling my soul with the spiritual fuel needed to survive. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays I go on long runs to train for my marathons. On Saturday mornings, we get a sitter and Blake joins me so we have 10-15 miles to be together-just us. We go get coffee + breakfast afterwards and just chat. Already, before 8 or 9 a.m. I've tended to three of my priorities. Faith, Family and Fitness. Bottom line: make the most of your mornings. Don't waste that precious time.
Some notes from the book:
- Successful people have priorities they want to tackle, or things they like to do with their lives, and early mornings are the time when they have the most control of their schedules.
- If you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won't happen. If it HAS to happen, then it HAS to happen first.
- In the morning, after a decent night's sleep, the supply of willpower is fresh. Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first, but in the long run conserves willpower.
- Successful people turn high-value tasks into morning rituals, conserving their energy for later battles.
- The best morning rituals are activities that don't have to happen and certainly don't have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation.
- The best morning rituals are activities that, when practiced regularly, result in long-term benefits.
1. I would absolutely love for you to grab this free printable and create your own balance sheet like mine! Upload it to instagram and share with us!
2. Start paying attention to how you use your time. There's a spreadsheet you can download here from Laura Vanderkam.
3. Plan out your weekends for six months! Sound crazy, huh? Create a bucket list with your family or closest friends that gives you things to do, people to see and places to be! You wouldn't believe how much time it saves when you actually plan out your weekends! And how fun is it to make a bucket list. These don't have to be expensive activities, but make them unique and special. Mostly-live The Ever Co spirit and make MEMORIES that will last forEVER!
Follow me @amylouhawthorne and @theeverco and share with me if this was a useful blog! I am so excited to keep sharing these free printables and lessons learned with you to use in your growth journey! I'm a big big fan of cheering other people on-so I'm all ears always and have a lot of pom poms waiting for you! Go get em!
Love and hugs,