Friday, July 20, 2012

A Single Dad's Big Stones

There's no question, some times of the year are busier than others. In my experience, the last six weeks of the calendar year and the last six weeks of the school year are the times, it seems to me, when time is the tightest.

During just the last two weeks of the recently ended school year, for example, our family's schedule has included three birthday parties, two sports parties, two games, six martial arts classes, three school parties, two fund-raising events, two doctor's appointments, two sports practices, one meeting with my attorney, and countless requests for information, materials, and yes, even time, from schools and teachers. Of course, the rest of the world doesn't stop. Groceries still need to be bought, food cooked, floor vacuumed, lawn mowed, bills to be paid, books to be written, well, you get the picture.

If these times of years are challenging for a two-parent family, then double the effort - and the stress - for the single father. The fact is, even the best time managers often discover that there isn't time for everything. The trick is to find time for the important stuff, which Stephen Covey refers to as "Big Rocks."

While this is important for anyone, prioritizing your Big Rocks for a single father is not just important, it's critical. Here's the The Single Father's Guide cheat:

1) Make a list of everything you do daily, weekly, and monthly. Be specific.
2) From the list, move each item into one of three columns labeled, "Critical," "Important," "Would Be Nice."
3) Post the Critical items on your refrigerator, on you smartphone, and perhaps a tattoo on your arm, (kidding about the tattoo), so you'll regularly be reminded of your critical path.
4) On a day-to-day basis, make sure your Critical list, or Big Rocks as Stephen Covey calls them, are done before you continue with items on the Important or Would Be Nice lists.

Don't sweat the little stuff. Important stuff is important stuff, but it's not critical. If important stuff isn't done, the world won't end. Eventually, as you improve your time management skills, you'll discover pockets of time in your life. During those pockets of time, you can move on to the Important list, and eventually, you'll have time to those things in your life that Would Be Nice to do.

Again, single dad, you will not always have the time to do everything you want to do. You may not even have the time to do all the important stuff. To get all of your Big Rocks in the bucket, though, you'll need big enough stones to occasionally say to someone who asks a favor, "Sorry. I can't do that today."

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