Priority – Family

This is a continuation of a Tuesday series I am writing on living in control of our calendar using block scheduling. The first post in the series is here.

We are on number three priority this week. It really doesn’t take much convincing in the case for our family to be a high priority in our lives. However, even though we all know it is supposed to be and all say that family is important, we find it very difficult to live out.

It is amazing how quickly and easily so many other things end up squeezing into our lives and pushing family aside. We’ve heard it said that few people (if anyone) come to the end of their lives wishing they had spent less time with family and more with work or other pursuits. We find that time gives perspective. That perspective reveals to us what matters most.

Too often, what matters most is not what gets our focus and attention on a day to day basis because so many other things seem more urgent. After all, family will still be there tomorrow, but that client meeting may not. Family will be there over the weekend, but the project is due tomorrow. Phone calls, emails, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, all have a place. They are useful tools and can even be necessary in our jobs, ministries, etc. However, they should not take away our focus and attention from our family in their time. We may have time set aside for family, we may be home in the evening, but if we are more focused on a computer/iPad screen or the TV than we are the people in our home, then we are not really giving those closest to us anything real. It’s not enough to call a time “family time” it must actually be that in our intention and in our practice.

Because, family will be there this weekend and the client/project/deadline/boss/etc. won’t. Family will be there in a decade and you may not even be in the same job or even career. While family will be there physically, the quality of that relationship tomorrow depends on the choices we make today.

In our block schedule system we are developing, we need to include family as our third priority. This is the first time we will even consider times in our worksheet. The reason we will consider times here is that we may have something here that is outside of our control. If we have children involved in activities or sports, often those are set schedules that we have little, if any, influence over. Our spouse may have a schedule that influences our time together with them.

As we consider our family time, we have up to three forms of family time to account for depending on our life situation. 1) time with spouse. 2) time with children & children’s activities. 3) whole family together time.

Taking our calendar worksheet we write in the days when we are going to have these forms of family time. My daughters aren’t involved in any scheduled activities at this time that affect my time with them. My wife’s schedule changes weekly (she travels for her job) so I am not including any times on mine. You may need to add some times here giving your context. Or you can wait until we get to that step after we get through all the priorities.

Again, the order each day is the priority, not necessarily the chronological order of the day. For example, on Thursdays and Fridays my dedicated time with my spouse usually takes place in the evening. Also, it usually does not work out that we can schedule some type of family time every day. Wednesdays for me are particularly difficult to consistently have set aside time for my family so I haven’t added any to that day. Yes, on that day I see my family and try to intentionally give them some focus, but that is a part of life and relationship. For the sake of finding that margin in our schedules and blocking our time correctly, blocked out time each day is not realistic for many people. There is usually at least one day in the week where it is not feasible. For me, it is Wednesday.

This is also the last item that gets put on our sabbath day. That one day off each week is set aside for God, health, and family. The goal is to make sure that all our activities that day fall into these three categories easily and nothing else.

The image below is an example of where we are in the process. Next Tuesday we will hit priority 4 – Purpose.