Years ago, when I was getting ready to go to college, I thought I knew what freedom was. To me, it meant getting away from all the rules and expectations of my parents. It meant I could eat what I wanted, stay out as late as I wanted, and get my work done whenever it suited me.
That was the college life I looked forward to, but I soon learned that freedom isn’t so simple.
When I met with my advisor to sign up for classes, he helped me build a schedule that kept Fridays free of any classes. “I’ll use Friday mornings to get all my work done,” I reasoned. As if the temptation of a 3-day weekend wouldn’t pose too great a threat…
I took advantage of my newfound freedom, meeting new friends, exploring the town, and getting lost in social media drama among my classmates. When Thursday night rolled around, I didn’t go to bed early to prepare for my Friday “work day”. I thought, “there are no classes tomorrow. I can stay up.”
Thanks to my late start and the exciting social opportunities the evening held, my Friday work time quickly vanished. Day by day, I chose to pursue what I wanted to do in the short term over what I wanted to accomplish in the long run.
I exercised my freedom! But I didn’t realize that I had left another freedom behind: the freedom to pursue my long term goals. I didn’t show up at school to fail, but that’s precisely what I was doing.
I wanted to learn, get better at writing, and earn a degree that could expand my choices even further. Instead, I took every opportunity to avoid work and enjoy fleeting experiences.
With good time management, I could have enjoyed fun times with my friends, and pursued my studies in earnest.
Good time management is about finding balance between your two freedoms: the freedom to enjoy passing recreation, and the freedom to be true to your values. I valued hard work and doing my best, but I wasn’t living up to that value.
Our minds are sometimes captivated by thoughts and impulses that don’t align with what is truly important to us. Find ways to remind yourself of what’s vital. When you plan your week, make sure to set aside time for what’s vital to you, and stick to it!
Think of a personal health goal, work project, or loved one. How important is that thing or person to you? Let your schedule and surroundings reflect that importance as you reserve time for those goals and relationships.