There is no lack of content available about time management. The long list of how to, what to, and when to, come in every form from books to downloads and apps. It goes without saying that our society is getting busier by the day. Every year seems to go faster and faster; every week seems to be full before you have an opportunity to schedule what you WANT to do, versus what you HAVE to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, exhausted, and filled with frustration. Life seems to run you, rather than you run your life. If none of this applies to you, then you can count yourself among the very fortunate, and simply read this as my personal confession of concern every time I look at my daily schedule.
The other day I was at a football practice with my boys (JW and Joel) and I saw several dads who were there to enjoy the practice and show support for their sons. At some point in the practice almost every father at the field had their phone ring. They excused themselves to a polite distance away and began the conversation. It seemed like a pretty routine thing. However, I began paying attention to the boys after they would run their drill or finish their play. They would turn and look for their dad, just to catch his eye, get thumbs up or hear a whistle. When dad was on the phone you could see their shoulders drop, effort decrease, and desire diminish. As soon as dad was paying attention again, they were back to full speed.
It certainly made a difference in their performance when they knew the man they wanted approval from was taking the time to pay attention. The whole experience made me ask the question of myself, “Do you really HAVE to take the call? Can it go to voicemail? Can you check and see if it needs to be returned or responded to at a later time? Is what you are about to be taken away from less important than what you are about to pay attention to?” The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are a lot of times that I really don’t have to take the call. It can wait.
What cannot wait are an 8 year old and a 5 year old. Every day they are getting closer to 9 and 6 and soon 25 and then 30. The attention I pay to them now is an investment in my future. It is a down payment on the influence that I will need to keep them on the right course. It is an “IOU” on the respect I want them to show me when they are my age and I am my father’s age. It is recognition of the fact that they will never be this age again, and every second I spend on another phone call will be one more moment I will never get back. No, there are times when I really don’t HAVE to take the call.
This fact may not make my schedule any less hectic, but it will certainly keep me from missing what’s truly important.