Why You Must Claim Your Time First

Think about what it says about your priorities.

by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
Scheduling time for yourself first shows courage and self-respect.
by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
Scheduling time for yourself first shows courage and self-respect.

I used to schedule stuff for myself at the last possible moment.

For example, golf. I’d wait until Thursday or even Friday night to schedule a round for Saturday. Nobody would be available, so it would be just me. Singles are easy to slot in, but the good tee times would be largely taken up. At this point, I’d have to play a nearby course because I didn’t have the time to put together something for a course further away.

Half the time, I’d decide it wasn’t worth it and not go. It was frustrating. I love it once I’m out there, but scrambling to put a plan together for myself at the last minute just felt like work.

I finally realized why I was doing it: I was leaving my schedule open in case something came up.

It sounds thoughtful and considerate. You’re making yourself available if anyone needs your help. You’re flexible. You’re able to take advantage of opportunities if they come up. You’re not locked in to a plan—you have the freedom to be spontaneous.

I know people who live this way. The extent of their planning is “oh, yeah—I need to pay the water bill today.” Very externally driven, very reactive.

It’s also very unsustainable. Eventually, you’re going to burn out if you do this. Set aside the discussion of reactive-vs-proactive for now. This approach seriously undervalues your time, your dreams, and you.

Think about what you’re doing.

You’re choosing to not make plans so that others can make plans for you. You’re telling yourself that anything you want to work on is less important than anything someone else wants you to work on. You’re cancelling your dreams so that someone else can live theirs instead.

Is that really the way you want to spend your life?

If you don’t build your dream someone else will hire you to help build theirs. —Tony Gaskins

You have a good strength. You’re sensitive to the needs of others, you want to help them succeed, and you’re probably pretty good at it. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t ask you to help.)

But you’re taking the strength to an extreme. It’s becoming a weakness. You need to balance consideration with courage—the consideration to help them with their dreams and the courage to stand up for your own.

Decide how you want to spend your time. Put things on the calendar. Schedule rounds of golf weeks in advance. Build a weekly routine that has time for the gym. Reserve the time you need every day to read, play, and sleep.

Then open up your schedule to others. Only then.

Not all your plans will hold. You’ll need to reschedule the things you’ve planned. Make sure you do reschedule them; don’t just cancel.

It’s going to feel strange. When you’re used to putting everyone else first, putting yourself first feels selfish. Arrogant, even. Don’t worry about it. You’ve been operating at an extreme. Now you’re finding balance.

Question: What can you schedule for yourself today? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.