How To Gain More Time for What's Important


“Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals.” - Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

How many times have you had to cancel a date with your significant other or worse, miss a birthday or family event because you had a really important meeting at work? If you’ve watched The Devil Wears Prada, you know exactly which scene I’m talking about.

How many times have you received a call from your friend asking for a raincheck because they had something important come up? I know I’ve been flaked on plenty of times, at the last minute too.

How many times have you told someone that something else was basically more important than them? Guilty of this, as I have rescheduled things plenty of time in hopes that this last minute opportunity was going to be worth it. Unfortunately, most of the time, it turns out to be a waste of time.

However we aren’t at fault, as we often don’t see any other choice. In addition to knowing that our dear friend or loving significant other will be much more understanding than our boss/job. You know I’m not wrong either, as we live in a world where working hard and hustling 24/7 is highly admired and usually rewarded. Being busy is a status symbol; if you’re consistently busy, it means you’re successful…right? But don’t forget to show proof of how busy you really on Instagram ;)

I’m not, by any means, talking down or about anyone. I personally know how it feels, as I’ve worked from the age of 16 to 26 in the corporate world. Competing against my peers in the office for a raise, for that upper level management position, for the pure acknowledgement that I was the “star” can be thrilling. Knowing you’re the best at something feels good and dammit, you should feel good about being great at what you do. There is absolutely nothing wrong about wanting to succeed and putting your career first, but you do realize that all these important meetings & events do come at a cost right? You cannot realistically have it all. If you’re hitting sales numbers, you’re most likely also missing out on your daughter’s recital or your mom’s birthday. So, the question isn’t how do we balance it all out (because there’s no such thing as balance), it’s how do we exactly define what is important and what is worth the risk?

You know the ending of The Devil Wears Prada, where Ann Hathaway proudly walks off and throws her phone in the fountain? I was actually pissed about it. How dare she work so damn hard and sacrifice so much, only to throw it away? So what if she outperformed a co-worker along the way, that’s reality. She made more progress than Emily did, so she deserved that opportunity. Of course, I understand the premise of the movie and the theme it was encouraging, that your personal happiness matters more than any job. I get it, but also personal happiness is defined by you and no one else.

While everyone’s definition of what’s important is different and quite personal, as it pertains to what they perceive is worthy and of value, there should be at least 3 questions you should ask yourself to determine the importance of an appointment/event/meeting/etc —

  1. Is this urgent? Is there a deadline? If it can wait, let it wait.

  2. Does this contribute to your values, your mission, your goals? Is it worth your time?

  3. Will you be happier doing this? Will this preserve or enhance a relationship that you truly value and enjoy?

Oh and maybe also ask yourself to think about the situation from the other person’s perspective, in regards to how they would feel if you missed out. I know I’m not the only person who’s ever heard someone feel extremely guilty for missing out on spending quality time with someone, especially if their time was short. Just a friendly reminder that time is one thing you cannot get back.

By filtering out your schedule and prioritizing a little more, you will have more time to focus on what matters. I mean, we all always wish we want more time right?

When you’re focused on what matters, nothing else will matter.