Setting Priorities

I remember when me and my husband were just starting life together. I was responsible for everything in the house from cleaning the house and the backyard, doing the laundry, cleaning fishes freshly bought from the market, cooking, and all the little things. Life was so simple then and I enjoyed every moment of it. There were still few patients coming to the clinic and my husband would help me finish work at the end of the day.

When my kids came, my life definitely changed. My priorities turned from household chores to taking care of them though I still kept my work. I am lucky my clinic is in the first floor of our house. I can easily go up or down where I am needed. But I needed help from someone who could do all the rest of household work. I was not used to it at first and I would schedule doing the cleaning and some cooking on weekends.

While the kids were growing up, the lesser time I had for myself. Much more so when I started teaching in the College of Medicine. I needed to study and prepare for my lectures, prepare exams, check papers, and compute grades. Add to these my work as a physician, as tutor for my kids, and my work at home. I needed to delegate more of the little things that needed to be done at home. When before I would be cleaning and arranging my kids’ toys in the shelf so that I know where to find them when my kids look for them, my househelp do that for me now. And there are a lot more things that I could not do anymore because of lack of time. And I find myself saying “too many things to do in a day but with too little time” regularly. It’s good that I know how to prioritize that I am able to keep track of everything thus making things at home so manageable.

There is an e-mail forwarded to me by my husband. It is about setting priorities so that important things that matter in life are given more time. I like to share it with you in case you find difficulty finding time. Here it is:

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
And had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things – Family, Children, Health, Friends, and Favorite Passions.
Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else –The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ He continued,
‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

‘Take care of the golf balls first —
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled.
‘I’m glad you asked’.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

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