What Are Your Non-negotiables?

     I find myself pulled in so many different directions at times - family, work (plus a second job), friends, church, chores, the gym, hobbies. If you’re like me, it always seems like there's something I’m forgetting or something that falls to the side that doesn’t get enough of my attention. I often get more stressed when I get busier, but I don’t always get more productive. Spinning your wheels and going nowhere is really disheartening. Through these especially busy seasons of life, I’ve discovered one essential piece of advice that will help you focus on what’s most important. 

     To focus on what's important, you first have to identify the important things in your life. What are your non-negotiables on your calendar? These non-negotiables are things that you NEVER miss. It might be church on Sunday mornings, hitting the gym after work, or family dinner on Tuesday nights. After you identify them, schedule your non-negotiables first. Put them on your calendar first before the less important things take up space. Plan your days, weeks, and months around these essential, important, no-exceptions events. 

     For me, work, my second job, and church are the three things that are non-negotiable (as an unmarried guy, I am not ignoring my family, don’t worry!). Since these three things dictate a lot of my schedule, they go on the calendar first. Then I schedule the less important, more flexible events around the important ones. When I have free time with my friends or family, I make sure that I give them my undivided attention. I turn off my phone when I am visiting my mom. I don't check my email when I'm with my friends. I want each person I'm with to know that my focus is on them and not worries about my job or other things.

     If you take the time to identify and schedule your non-negotiables first, even when you get busy, you'll still be focused on what matters. Sometimes busyness creeps in when we let a lot of little, unimportant tasks fill up our time. To effectively love our family and find success at work, we all need to define and focus on what's most important.

What's most important to you? When will you focus on it? 

P.S. If you want to learn more about this concept, Craig Groeschel of Life Church has some excellent lessons on time management (watch part 1 and part 2).