Time Management vs. Managing Multiple Priorities

I just got back from the nation’s capital where I spent about 4 days with over 600 SGA leaders from around the WORLD! Literally, I have some new friends from Cairo, Egypt, Illinois, the Virgin Islands, Pennsylvania, Texas, Qatar, and our neighbors up north in Canada. I have been a speaker for the Association of Student Governments (ASGA) for 5-6 years and am always energized by my brothers and sisters who take up the mantle as SGA leaders. We don’t always get it right, but most of us are well intentioned enough. Why do I say we? Oh you didn’t know? I was HEAVILY involved in SGA back at NC State. I was Student Body President my super-senior year (yes I did a victory lap), and before that served in almost any post you can imagine in SGA. Then I advised SGA when I came to U of L! And what I learned and continue to try to teach now is that there is a BIG difference between managing time, and managing priorities.

You see, those people who “manage” their time tend to be able to fit a whole lot of stuff into one day. Killing themselves to study, go to meetings, eat, meet with friends, do research, and work a job, all because they measure their success in how much they can do – no matter how important or impactful that doing is. They run around saying “I’m so busy” hoping to elicit glares of respect or adulation from those who just don’t seem to be important enough to be as busy as they are. I don’t think these folks get it – in fact, they are missing everything. You see, these folks are busy bodies – running to and fro, feeling that they are successful because they were able to just barely get to bed by 2am, only to have to do it all again the next day. This was me circa 2000.

Then there are the others folks (the folks I strive to emulate). These folks prioritize their day, fill it with meaning, substance, and value added work for their lives and the lives of others. These people, we will call them “the real deals,” prioritize their time, and realize that not everything we do is equal in importance. Real deals understand that time spent doing things that are core values for you is what ultimately leads to success. They realize that quantity does not necessarily equal quality, and that very busy people have lived lives full of nothingness because they did not prioritize properly to give meaning to their work. Your job this week is to figure out how to “multiply your task” rather than simply “multi-task.” Get more out of the tasks you do by seriously assessing the value of what you are doing, then aligning those appropriately. Spend most of your time on those things that serve, that connect you closer to others in your life, that bring you excitement, and leave the rest to the busy bodies. Trust me, they thrive off the mundane stuff they we truly are too busy for!

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