Teaching > HP
442 Professional Practices > Time
Michael Olpin, Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Human
Performance, Weber State University, Ogden, UT
In theory, knowing what we value most and acting on those things
we value is an obvious way to live. In practice, it is something
very different. We are always wishing that we had more time for
the really important things in life.
In this type of balancing, when we sit down to plan, rather
than asking, “What do I have to do?” we ask different
questions, such as, “What
do I choose to do? or “What
do I want to do?”
Unfortunately, day-to-day concerns occupy so much of our time
and tend to keep us from making time for these more important
The essence of priority balancing is to simplify.
The ability to simplify our days, and our lives, can be developed
by regularly asking these four questions:
- Will it matter in ten years?
- What do I need more of in my life?
- What do I need less of?
- How can I make this simpler?
When we begin to ask these questions, we learn to say “no”
more frequently to those things that simply aren't worth doing.
Continually adding more things to our life frequently complicates
and speeds up the pace of our life. Removing
things from our lives creates simplicity and freedom.
The first step to balance our priorities is to simplify.
Doing what Really Matters
The second aspect of balance, and related to simplification,
is to focus our priorities on three specific areas, then work
to balance these areas. The three priorities common to everyone
- Family –
This area includes our relationships with family and friends.
–This area includes all areas of our professional development.
- Self –This
area includes not only development with our inner self, but
the way we function serving others, activity with church and
The first step in creating more balance in our lives is to
spend five minutes each day, before writing down
any other plans or thinking about our schedule, deciding
on the single most important thing you can do that day
for your family, your professional development and yourself. Imagine
how much you would accomplish that is really important in your
life if you focused on those things that really mattered.
Don't just do something, Sit There!
Planning our days involves a commitment to stop everything and
spend at least 5 minutes stopping and doing nothing other than
thinking. Before planning your schedule, give yourself some sit-down
time each day to ask yourself the key questions that were mentioned
In our solitude time, rather than asking, “What do I really
want?” we can ask challenging, but perhaps more useful questions
like “What do I need?” “What do I need in my
physical life?” What do I need in my social life, my spiritual
life, my mental/emotional life?” Get in the habit of asking
yourself these questions daily - then pick the thing you need
to do most and do it that day.
Attitude Balance – balancing structure with spontaneity
Attitude balance involves considering both the destination and
the journey. Our culture thrives on arriving, on reaching goals
and enjoying the good feeling that comes with accomplishment.
We tend to forget, so frequently, about the
joy of the journey, about the footsteps we make
on the way to the goal, which are just as important as the goal
The Eyre's use the comparison of the jets and the hot air balloons.
The jets are those who strive to arrive. People ride in jets to
get where they are going as quickly as possible. People ride in
hot air balloons for the sheer pleasure of riding in them. The
hot air balloons are those who stop to smell the roses, who go
with the flow of the wind wherever it might take them. People
who dislike formal planning because of its inflexible structure
say the jets lack spontaneity. The Eyre's contend that we can
have both – the balloon and the jet – on our way to
living our days in more fulfilling ways. The Yin and the Yang
of the Taoist symbol implies that we are made up of both the jet
and the hot air balloon. We feel drawn to both ways of being.
Antiplanning describes the attitude of making goals, being firm
about where we want to go, but at the same time, being
very flexible on how we are to get there. We don't
always know, with our limited wisdom, what is the best way to
do something. If we remain open
to opportunities, rather than staying rigidly
attached to what we have planned, we may find new directions,
new opportunities, and sometimes even better goals that present
themselves. Antiplanning shifts our focus to a simpler attitude
of enjoying each step of the journey as much as the goal that
we will reach.
Freeing the Mind
When is it that our best ideas come to us? When we are running
around frantically working through the daily “to do”
list, there is usually no room for insights or ideas to pop through
into our awareness. On the other hand, our best ideas come in
those times when our thinking has slowed and we aren't focusing
on anything in particular.
Examples of these times are when we are in the shower, times
of daydreaming, when we sleep in, when we take a leisurely stroll
by ourselves, when we are jogging, while driving, or when we are
sitting lazily by the pool. It is during these times that we should
have a pen or a recorder handy to catch these fleeting ideas.
Oftentimes, these insights can completely change an entire day
or an entire lifetime toward a more fulfilling and joy-filled
experience. But if we don't let the ideas through because of the
busy-ness of our minds, we miss out on these best things.