Priorities lead to balance

You know that tipping point when your work, family and personal responsibilities begin to compete? Has it ever gotten so bad that you begin to show up to things without being there? If you have, you know that it doesn’t count for much and you might as well not be there at all.

This is not a good place to be, and it doesn't have to be. 

So why does it happen?

Most people -- myself included -- when they reach this point, often revert to the old excuse "I just don' have enough time in the day."

How then, is there ample time for some people to lead productive, balanced lives when others get caught up in a frenzy of playing catchup and constantly feel tension between personal, work and family obligations?

The problem isn’t lack of time, but rather, time management. 

As a rule, people who set priorities and balance them accordingly are better time managers then people who don't. 
Trying to manage time without setting priorities is like trying to navigate through the woods with no compass. All you do is go in circles. 

Prioritizing allows us to filter out the clutter -- the excessive checking of email, facebook and news -- and focus on the things that create balance in our lives, the things that matter. 

My priorities are family, health, personal time, work and friends. My challenge (and everyone's) is to align my priorities with my reality. 

One way to measure the gap between how you spend your time and how you should spend your time is to make a pie chart with a space for all your priorities, including a space for clutter, or junk time. Take the chart out every night before you go to bed and rate which priorities were given the most and the least amount of time for that day. 

Do this for one week, and you'll have a map of where you are, and where you need to go. 

Each day we are lucky to be alive. If we are spending our time in ways other than we'd approve of, being mentally absent from our selves and others -- what are we really doing? It's natural to veer off course in frequency and intensity. The trick is to understand where are are, where we need to be, and which direction we are headed. Priorities don't do it alone, but they are a big part of the puzzle.