“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” – James W Frick
“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” – George Lorimer
“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Where do YOUR priorities lie? What if I told you that you were fooling yourself? Would you believe me? Read on to find out if your priorities are what you think they.
Even at the ripe, young age of 27, I believe I’ve realized what’s important in life: time with people I care about and helping others. Sounds pretty noble, right? Of course you need money to be able to do those things, and luckily my occupation (i.e. Coach and Trainer) allows me to help people and make money at the same time, which I love.
So yes, I’m a wonderful person who has life all figured out, and I want to help people, make money, spend time with loved ones, kiss babies, save the whales, fight world hunger, and blah blah blah (you can go throw up now).
But the big question is: Do I REALLY want those things? Sure I would like to believe that I want those things — but what do I truly value? Like the quotes above say, you can tell someone’s priorities by where they spend their time and money; so it seems the only way to discover what I truly value is to find out where I spend MY time and money.
In order find out exactly how I spend my time, I kept a 2 week time log of my exact activities in 10 minute increments. I already keep a money log of sorts, so I didn’t need to re-record my expenditures, but I did take a close look at my spending and categorized it.
The results? In general, my time and money has been spent pretty well, but I have a lot of room for improvement. That’s hard to admit, but I believe that time and money expenditures don’t lie. My money log is private, but I realized I need to donate/tithe more, be more mindful of useless auto-draft fees, and shop around more for health, auto insurance, and cell phones providers. The real wake-up call came when I reviewed my time log. Here it is:
For ease of evaluation, I used the following categories:
- Time with loved ones (friends, family, boyfriend): 17.2%
- Leisure time (naps, movies, TV, internet leisure time): 8.4%
- Social media time/networking: 3.4%
- Life maintenance (housework, errands, food prep, paying bills, showering, etc.): 20.1%
- Eating (important enough for its own category!): 4.3%
- Gym/Lifting: 4.2%
- Work (things that currently make $$$ including writing programs, coaching clients, etc.): 21%
- Work (things/projects that WILL make me money in the future): 9.2%
- Personal growth (reading books, goal-setting, meditation): 1.4%
- Commuting (Grrrr…): 8%
- Relaxation/Recovery (massages, acupuncture, epsom salt baths, etc.): 2.8%
- Sleep (didn’t include in breakdown): 8-9 hours/night
This breakdown is not perfect, and some of these activities span several categories. For example, when doing Girls Gone Strong stuff on Facebook, am I working? Networking? Enjoying leisure time? When I’m out to dinner with my boyfriend, is that eating? Time with loved ones? Leisure time? Either way, it doesn’t matter. You get the point. Here is it. Right in front of me, in black and white. My priorities.
My Evaluation of My Log
I compared the breakdown above with my current goals. Here is where I’m falling short:
1. Personal growth – How can I expect to get better if I’m not spending more time on personal growth? Sure I read articles, but I’m definitely not reading enough books, and not spending enough time goal-setting and evaluating my actions to determine if they are helping me reach those goals.
2. Life maintenance – This is a time-suck! There is a lot of “stuff” to get done each day to maintain our lives. I could definitely do a better job streamlining this “stuff” by setting up systems, automating “stuff,” etc. It just takes time to organize the “stuff” that helps you do the “stuff” you need to do. Makes me crazy just thinking about it!
3. Time with loved ones – While not reflected in the time log, I know is that the QUALITY of time I spend with loved ones often suffers. I have a habit of not being able to shut my brain off. I can’t help it. I love what I do so I’m constantly interacting with clients and colleagues, and thinking about ways to help people and grow my businesses. Having recently lost someone VERY close to me (my beloved Dad) I can tell you this: I NEVER look back on the time he and I spent together and wished that I spent more of it mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed or tweeting with a colleague. In fact, I wish I spent more time giving him my absolute, undivided attention. I wish I spent more time holding his hand, listening to his stories, telling him about my day, asking him for advice, and telling him I loved him.
4. Work – Again, while not reflected in my log, I must learn to be more effective when working. Because of my crazy-ADD brain, and because my work involves social networking, reading fitness articles, and the like, it’s easy to get distracted and not be effective. Notice I’m saying EFFECTIVE, not EFFICIENT. You can be EFFICIENT without being EFFECTIVE and EFFECTIVE is what I want. Being more effective allows me to do more work in less time, and will improve the quality of my work as well.
The Action Plan
1. Prioritize personal growth.
I will spend 30 minutes, 5 days a week focused on goal-setting, organizing my priority lists, and reading personal growth books. All of the successful people I know write their goals down and review them regularly. If you want to be successful, you mimic the actions of successful people. I would like to spend more time doing this, but setting an attainable goal and setting myself up for success is key. I can increase the amount of time I spend on this down the road if I want.
2. Outsource life maintenance stuff.
Once the business takes off a bit more, I will acquire a part-time personal assistant. Several friends/colleagues of mine hire personal assistants for $10-20/hour. Anytime you can hire someone to do things you don’t enjoy, for less than you make per hour, it’s a no-brainer. You’re buying your valuable time for less than you sell your valuable time for. This = more money and time = more awesome. Things I can’t outsource, I will make more effective. For example, folding laundry while returning phone calls, or listening to books on tape while running errands. This equals getting more things done, freeing up more time, or both.
3. Increase the quality of time I spend with loved ones and be more “present. “
This will be tough, but by completing what I outline below, I’ll be more effective at my job, get more done, and will have less to worry/think/brainstorm about when spending time with loved ones. I will also take temporary “black-out” periods from my phone and computer. I will start with a 3-4 hour hiatus on Sundays. Yes, it sounds ridiculous that I have to PLAN a 3-4 hour hiatus from my phone and computer. That’s because it IS ridiculous. I have a serious problem. I will eventually work up to more time away from my phone and computer and focus on being present. This will be more pleasant for everyone and looking back, I won’t regret missing quality time with loved ones.
4. Be more effective when working.
This action is vague, so the first step is to decide what that means. A great starting point is choosing an assignment, setting a goal of what will get done in “x” amount of time, and doing it. Sounds easy enough, but nope! I get distracted by Facebook, my phone ringing, the dryer buzzing, Tony Gentilcore constantly calling and texting me (it’s getting a little awkward Tony. No means no. ;-D)
Seriously, it’s easy to get up to grab water and see that I need to put dishes in the dishwasher. Then realize the dishwasher is full and clean. Crap. I gotta unload it. While unloading the dishwasher, my Mom calls. I know we’ll chat for 15 minutes so I organize my desktop while chatting. I start doing that and I find cute pictures from my friend’s wedding, so I email them to my best friend. Then I see a time-sensitive email that’s 2 days old that needs taking care of. Uh-oh! I start doing that, and realize I have to use the bathroom. On my way to the bathroom I see the bed’s not made and that drives my boyfriend crazy, so I make it quickly. Once I use the bathroom, and sit back down at my computer, I realize I have to call my business partner for an answer before I can reply to the email. I call him and he doesn’t answer, BUT I see that it’s my turn in my words with friend game. After 5 minutes I find a killer word and ZING! 88 points! Boo-yah! But oh no! What about the email? What about whatever I was doing before I got the water? ACK! An hour wasted and nothing done. Ad nauseum.
To avoid the above, I will have everything I need with me, set a timer for myself, and make sure I don’t move until my assignment is done. I will also follow the advice of my friend Pat Rigsby: “Write down 3 things to do each day that will move you closer to your goal, and do them. It’s that’s simple.” This will make me more effective and improve the quality of my work.
As you can see, I have some major work to do before my desired priorities are in line with my actual priorities. I am going to re-evaluate every couple of months to see what positive effects happen from making these changes in my life, and I suggest you do the same.
******Takeaways In Two Minutes******
1. Write out a list of short and long-term goals. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars here. You have one life. Make it amazing.
2. Figure what you must prioritize and sacrifice to reach those goals.
3. Be brutally honest with yourself. Keep a time (and money) log and see where the majority of it is going. They you’ll see if your priorities and your current actions match.
4. Find the discrepancies and figure out how you will fix them. What can you cut out? What needs more time?
5. Re-evaluate every 3-6 months. We all veer off course. Do this again every 3-6 months to make sure you are getting closer to your goals.
What about you? If you compare what you THINK your goals and priorities are to how you spend your time and money — how do YOU stack up? Are you close? Are you so far off you can’t believe it? Do you have room for improvement? Let me know below!