If you are a world changer (ahem…or a workaholic), chances are you are not going to lose sight of the first priority. It’s the one that keeps you up at night. The one that you talk about. The one that you have trouble getting out of your head. However, your 2nd or 3rd priority (while still important) likely gets far less attention. It’s easy to convince oneself that 2nd or 3rd place is only a degree or two behind 1st place, but then the question becomes – is that really the case? Think about your time in terms of a percentage. Do you spend roughly equal amounts of time on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd priorities? Or are your percentages dramatically different? Does your project require 70% of your time? Leaving your 2nd priority (relationship, marriage, children) 20% and 3rd priority a fraction of that?
For those of you for whom this is the case, the first step in addressing the inequality it is to acknowledge the reality that the project takes, and probably will continue to take a significant amount of time. While this acknowledgement may not be an epiphany for anyone around you, it’s likely that your significant other or children will appreciate hearing your acknowledgement out loud. It tends to help create a sense of being on the same page and a unity or team approach to carrying the burden.
The second, and most important step, is to (every once in a while) intentionally focus on 2nd place. Take a day, or an evening once a week – turn off your phone, step back from email, push the to-do list aside and fully be present with your 2nd place priority. Focus on your marriage, or your children. Have dinner with a friend and really listen to them. I think you will find that your 2nd place priorities don’t have to have equal time as long as they have quality time. The key is to maximize the time that you have to focus on 2ndplace, rather than being distracted or trying to multitask. We often fool ourselves into think that we can focus on two things at once. Research shows that this is entirely not the case. We actually only switch rapidly between full attention on one thing and full attention on the next. The implication? If you are focusing on your phone, you are not focusing on the person in front of you. It’s most often ourselves that we delude – the person in front of us knows that we are not fully present. While your time is limited, if you block out a night to focus fully on 2nd place, I suspect that you will feel less guilty and more fully able to devote yourself to 1st place the other 95% of your time.
Check out the first post in the series: Are You Losing Your Head?
This article was originally posted on Plywood People.
Wendy Dickinson, Ph.D.