It’s not how much time you have; it’s what priorities you set.

How often have we said or heard someone say, “If I only had more time, I could do “X” or “Y” or “Z.” Or they might have said, ” I just don’t have enough time.”  In either case, the reality is all of us have all the time there is. There is no such thing as not enough time or more time. There is just us ever embedded in  the endless flowing of time.  The pauper and the millionaire have the same 24 hours every day. The successful entrepreneur and the housewife with 3 children have the same 24 hours every day.  We all have 24 hours every day.

So, what is the issue? Why do we all feel so busy and so pressed and so needing of more time to get done what we need to get done in our busy day-to-day living? The issue is a matter of prioritizing.  Before I expand on the issue of prioritizing, let me make one very important caveat to all of us having all the time there is. The millionaire and the pauper, the college graduate and the high school drop-out, the mother of 3 children and a single woman have very different options within that 24 hour time frame. The options and possibilities each of us have  vary according to the detailed contexts and complexities of our lives. That makes a very big difference in what we can actually accomplish in the 24 hours we all have. Having said that, it still comes back to the reality that whatever options and possibilities each of us has, we all have the same 24 hours each day to do whatever we decide to do or not do.

All that is true, and thus we “prioritize” the obligations, commitments and activities in our lives according to the spectrum of options that fit our circumstances. So, in our lives, it is never possible to have “more time.”  The amount of time is the same for all of us. What varies is what we do with the time we have, and that depends on the priorities we set for ourselves in the framework of our days.  If  your car breaks down in the midst of a busy day where you didn’t “have enough time,”  somehow the “time” to get your car fixed happens. It happens because you need your car, and that need forces us to prioritize the car over whatever else is going on in our lives. We shuffle and rearrange, and get through the day, but we go on with our “not enough time ” life and get our car repaired as well.

The point is that priorities are what determine our actions, not how much time we have or don’t have. Looking at time in our lives is looking in the wrong direction to get our lives to work  the way we want them to work.  It is like putting out the garbage because a light bulb burned out.  It gets us doing something, but not what needs doing to get the light working again.

What, then, is a priority? It is the process by which we decide what to do next whatever it is we are doing.  If you are baking a cake, the recipe is basically a sequential list of priorities that when followed yield up a cake.  If you are going to visit your mother, the distances you travel and the roads you travel on get you to your mother’s doorstep. The sequence properly followed gets us there through rain and snow and traffic, but we get there by following the priorities of how to get there.  Whatever it is that we intend to do, the “doing” of it depends on our setting the appropriate and relevant priorities that will get it done.

If there’s “not enough time” to do what you intend, you haven’t set your priorities accurately, and, in fact, what you do when faced with “not  enough time” is rework what you are doing in some way that  gives you “enough time.” You change what you are doing. You decide to do it at some other time or in some other way. You give it up and move on to something else, or you decide you can only do part of what you intended in the time  you actually have available to you.

So, the direction to take is really quite simple, but not necessarily easy. Give up saying, “I don’t have enough time,” and substitute, “I need to rework my priorities.”  This is the path to having our lives work much more effectively, and we won’t waste all that time thinking we don’t have enough time.


About The Practical Philosopher

I am a retired Philosophy professor. I taught philosophy for 43 years, and I would like to share some of what I have found pursuing the fascinating journey of philosophy.
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5 Responses to Time

  1. Great advice to remember.

  2. That’s a different issue, for it touches on when we will die. We, none of us, know how much time left that we have in that regard. Some 20 year olds die before some 80 year olds.

  3. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

  4. Great job writing this article. I’d like to read more on this topic.

  5. Elda Yockey says:

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