Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

How Does One Prioritize

My elder son, who is in University and who is back home with us during this COVID crisis, is running against a tight deadline for his year-end dissertation submission. He has been burning the midnight oil diligently completing the research work and writing his theses.

One unintended consequence of his full focus on academic activity has been that he has started slipping up on keeping himself fit. Outside of his sleeping hours, he spends his entire day working on his project report.

As a parent, I do keep an eye on what my son is doing and not doing, and this morning I gently nudged him on the point that he should take some time out, maybe just 30 minutes to exercise. My son acknowledged my feedback but indicated that he did not have the time to work out even though it was necessary.

This conversation set me thinking about how something essential and urgent takes precedence over some other equally important but less urgent activity. Should academic excellence happen at the neglect of physical wellbeing? What should be the decision model in such a scenario?

I am a visual person in the way I process my thoughts and concepts, and I sense that all priorities could be seen in two ways -Horizontal and Vertical.

When I see my priorities from a horizontal perspective, activities relating to different dimensions of my life have their place and importance. It is not one activity jostling for my time at the expense of some other activity. My work-related priority is not taking precedence over my family, personal, or any different dimension that I believe is important for leading a fulfilled life. Everything is in balance.

WorkFamilyPersonal developmentPhysical ActivityManaging my FinancesSocial Commitments
Horizontal Priorities

When I see it from a vertical perspective it looks like this.

Personal Development
Physical Activity
Managing my Finances
Social Commitments
Priorities organised Vertically

When I see my own priorities this way, two things strike me.

One, unwittingly there is a hierarchy created in my mind. Work on top, after that family, after that, my personal development, and so on…..

Two, there is prioritization. I have to distribute my finite time and focus on these activities in order of importance and prioritization. Some activities will gain precedence over others. This format works well for “to-do lists” but not necessarily to manage life priorities.

I realize my son’s perspective is vertical. ” I will focus on what I believe is important for me at this point and if I have the time and energy, I will focus on other priorities”

By having such an outlook, he is not even willing to acknowledge that it is possible to have an outcome where he can accommodate 30 minutes for a workout without in any way impacting his academic focus.

I have not tried to push this point with my son. I am sure its a temporary phase, and he will realize soon enough that it is essential to balance his priorities well. In the meanwhile, I have come out wiser about how to see my different life priorities. Everything has its place and in balance when I don’t neglect one for the other.

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