Why Integration—Not Balance—Should Be Your Goal
I once heard someone say, “Priorities are what gets done. Everything else is just talk.” You have the time for all your priorities. You just have to make time. Not by balancing your priorities, but by integrating your life.
When I say integrating, I am talking about the opposite of compartmentalizing. When you see your life as a whole—and not the sum of parts—then you will better be able to make time for what is important. Besides, you will never be able to achieve balance in your life. Something will always outweigh everything else in your schedule. But if you integrate your life, you can make time for what is important to you.
Here’s how you can integrate your life to make time for your priorities.
1. Identify your priorities
Determine at the outset the priorities in your life. In other words, what are you willing to make time for? Then let those priorities integrate your schedule.
If you say that your relationship with God is most important, then let define you. Let that be something that integrates your life. If that is what is truly important to you, then it must be important in all areas of your life. Similarly, if family is a priority in your life, then let that be a focal point in your life. Be clear to yourself—and everyone else—as to who or what your priorities are.
If you have to place your priorities on the calendar first, then do it. If you have to color-code your schedule so that you keep your priorities intact, then do what you have to do. But be clear about your priorities.
2. Protect your priorities
If something is truly important to you, then make it important all the time. It should trump everything else when making your schedule. Ask yourself, “Is this a priority, or is it just talk?”
You will have difficulty if you have to keep fighting the same schedule battles over and over. If time with God is important, then make that clear in your everyday schedule. If time with your family is important, then you must regularly carve out that time from your schedule. But you must protect your priorities.
If you keep having to make case-by-case choices with your schedule, it will frustrate you and everyone else who is a supposed priority in your life. They will feel like you’re not truthful because you’re not consistent.
3. Forget about the rest
Don’t get concerned about cutting things out of your schedule that you say are not priorities. Little things will come along to vie for your time unless you safeguard that time.
By seeing yourself as an integrated person, you will not let little time stealers into your schedule. Instead you will recognize these time stealers for what they are.
If you integrate your life and stand your ground against things that will try to sneak into your schedule, then you will be happier with yourself—and so will others.
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