Priorities.

Priorities. They’re important. I have them, and I know what they are. Some people might disagree with me, but in my personal opinion, I have them straight. (Then again, most people do, in their personal opinions. But that’s not what this is about.)

I’m going to quote Dan Wells here. This quote comes, not from any of his books, but from an episode of Writing Excuses. I can’t remember which one. During the episode, the podcasters were talking about motivation, and finding time for writing. Dan said, “When you do not have time for something, that is not an issue of scheduling, it is an issue of values.”

Now, this seems a simple and obvious statement at first glance. And it is. But sometimes, seeing things so simply and clearly stated is what we need.

When you don’t have time to write, it’s because you don’t value it, don’t prioritize, it enough.

When you don’t have time to do your schoolwork, it’s because you don’t prioritize it.

It’s not because you have issues with scheduling your time efficiently. It’s about what you prioritize.

Once I came to that realization, I accepted that there are just going to be some things that I’m not going to be able to do. Other things, I’ll be able to do when I have the time for them. And some things, I’ll prioritize, and make time for. I value these things more highly than anything else. Let me give you a list of what’s at the top of my priorities, how I decide what absolutely must be done, and what can slide.

1. School.

2. Necessary Body stuff. (eating, etc.)

3. Writing.

4. Sleeping.

5. Everything else, in various orders.

Note that I list school first. That’s because it is. If it means that I have to miss a meal to be in class on time, or finish a test, I’ll do it. If it means not sleeping one night to finish homework, I’ll do it. School, and doing well, is that important to me. I’ve done all of the above several times.

Writing in this context means creative writing, not this blog. That’s why the blog sometimes slips, even though I’m still writing everyday. I’m sorry for that, but I’m not going to bump it up on the priority list.

Now, I won’t miss a meal to write. But I will stay up late, even if it means I only get 4 hours of sleep instead of 5. I’ve decided that writing is more important to me, and suddenly, I’ve been able to write every day. It’s amazing what setting your priorities – your values – can really do for you.

Take a minute to ask yourself: What are your values?

Then, stop and ask: Am I telling myself the truth?

If you are, you will truly prioritize those things at the top over others, even to the detriment of others. But if that’s just what you say your values are, then that won’t be reflected in what you actually do with your time. It’s worth thinking about and examining. I created my list, and wrote it down, and I constantly remind myself of what my priorities are. I still have to remind myself of what my priorities are, and I do so all the time. But because I do so, I stick to them. I suggest that if you’re having trouble finding the time to do something that you say is a high priority for you, you do the same. It’s what worked for me, and it might just work for you.

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