I Don’t Value That Right Now

ValueWe all have twenty-four hours in a day. Some of us have the resources and wherewithal to leverage that time more effectively than others. While we may not all be on equal footing in that regard, we all make choices about how we spend our time. For too long, I viewed my days as an hourglass that sat next to my to-do list. On good days, the list would be finished before the sand ran out. On most days, though, the list would spill over into the next day.

For the past few weeks, I’m trying to reconsider how I budget my time. Instead of simply tackling whatever is on the list first or whatever habit is ingrained so deeply in my subconscious that I don’t even have to put in on the list, I’m prioritizing my day. I’m also trying to change the way I view my time. Instead of simply thinking to myself, “I don’t have time for this,” I’m swapping out that phrase for “I don’t value that right now”. Harsh? Maybe. But very few eye-opening truths aren’t. Time is finite, so I’m going to attempt to spend it more wisely. 

About a month ago, I was rushing through a phone call with my parents. I still had to make lunches, empty the dishwasher, and tackle the never-ending stream of grading before crawling into bed. I hurried the conversation to the end and we said our goodnights. I knew I’d talk to them again tomorrow. But here’s the thing: it’s great to plan for the future, but that’s not actually where life happens. Today matters most. It’s all we really have.

I could have let myself off the hook really easily. I could have said, “I don’t have time to talk to them right now.” That’s completely understandable, easily forgivable. Everyone knows time is precious. But what my actions were really saying was that I didn’t value that conversation as much as I valued…what? An empty dishwasher? 10 extra minutes to dink around on social media before bed?

The act of comparing items on a to-do list with a value statement has been a game changer for me. No more grading or checking work emails during dinner with my husband. “Sorry, hun. I don’t value conversation with you as much as I value this map of the Middle East.” No more skipping a walk around the neighborhood or a quick yoga routine. “I don’t value my health nearly as much as I value checking blog traffic for the 47th time this week.” A to-do list is far more than a bulleted list of tasks. It’s a roadmap to the future. Why shouldn’t we all reconcile those actions with our values? As near as I can tell, it is a much more effective way to get where you really want to be.

Because time is such a finite resource, there are some things that I have simply had to eliminate. I don’t follow TV shows anymore. If I have time, I’ll watch a DVD from the library while I jog on the treadmill. If I’m lucky, I might convince Mr. P to watch How to Get Away with Murder on On Demand as part of a weekend date night. I’m also working on eliminating other timesucks from my daily routine. I took my personal Facebook off my phone. I’ve stopped replying to work emails past 6 PM. I don’t flip through junk mail. I’ve unsubscribed from most email lists. I decluttered my phone and said goodbye to every last app that didn’t bring joy or utility to my life.

Everyone has twenty-four hours in a day. Instead of letting my days be driven by obligations and mindless habits, I’m going to let my values take the reins. I’m going to make time for what matters. 

So Tell Me…What else could I cut out from my day? What do feel adds the most value to your day-to-day living?  

I Don’t Value That Right Now

13 thoughts on “I Don’t Value That Right Now

  1. I think it’s easy to allow your time to be sucked up if you don’t pay attention. One thing I am really mindful of is the time I have with my kids each evening. They are in daycare/school until 4:00 p.m. and go to bed at 7:45, so I really only have 3.5 hours with them on week days. I try to get the most out of that time and not get sucked into too many chores. I can always do chores after they go to bed.

  2. I need to do more of that. Right now, I’m prioritizing by default instead of strategizing the best use of my time and that’s not good. So today, I took Little Bit to school, puttered around Goodwill for an hour looking for kid clothes and then sat drinking coffee and playing on Facebook. I got stuff to do, and at least should have already gotten my article for tomorrow done!

  3. I’ve recently done a time study to think about this too! Will be sharing that sooon.

    No great big conclusions yet but I’m finding that even just small adjustments to what I choose to do makes a huge difference in the quality of the day. DST has really done a number on all of us, though :/

  4. This is a subject that is often on my mind, although I must confess it’s a struggle to prioritize what I value time-wise. It’s just too easy to get sucked in to those less valuable tasks, but I keep trying. I think what adds the most value to my day-to-day living (and probably everyone else’s) is my relationships with family and friends. There’s also taking care of my health. We don’t get the time we spend back, so I’d better be more careful about how I’m spending it!

  5. Wow. This post was exactly the kick in the ass I needed today. Or, at least, some day soon when I’m over this bug and can get out of bed! What a simple and powerful way to put it: I don’t value that right now. Thank you for this!

  6. I love this mindset! It’s all about what we value most and finding the time for that. Time sucks will always be there. But consciously thinking “do I value this more than something else?” will help tremendously. I struggle with all the things I “should” be doing. When I really sit down and evaluate what I value, most of those things aren’t there, so why do I feel so compelled to do what someone else says I should?

  7. Multitasking can be really helpful to using time productively. I used to love reading, but never seemed to have time for it. Ever since I started listening to audiobooks while driving to work, I don’t mind my commute as much, and I’m making a lot of progress on my to-read list.

  8. Wow, this is a really insightful post. I’m going to give this a shot for a while. I know that I’m guilty of falling into useless timesinks. One of the things that I have actively tried to do this year is use the phone to call people and have a conversation instead of just texting back and forth. It’s easy to get caught up in the convenience of the short message versus actually taking the time to talk (and listen).

  9. This is such a good reminder. I’m notorious for being a checklist person, and like you said, an empty dishwasher isn’t more important than a conversation with a loved one. I feel like we all want to do it all, but you really have to set your top priorities and make a conscious decision to keep them at the top of your list. Thanks for the great post 🙂

  10. Right on! I think I’ll have to adopt this into my own life.

    I don’t know too much about your life, so I can’t recommend what else to cut out from your day, but I definitely agree with removing Facebook from your phone. I did the same and found that my quality of life was so much better. I’m definitely trying to value the time that I spend with people more, but it’s hard when there’s SO MUCH that has to be done!

    Ah, well – we’ll get there.

  11. For me part of it is time, and part of it is managing my energy. I got rid of about 75% of my kids toys, so they can clean them up by themselves. Most days I don’t have the time, energy or desire to pick up toys. =)

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