You have kids. Or you have two jobs. Or a demanding spouse. Or a bunch of pets. Or a TV addiction.

Yet you still want to exercise (but you can’t find time).

This is a problem, especially if you believe exercise will provide you with more energy and better health. So I suppose the popular solution is simply to work on time management. But the truth is this: priority management is likely more important.

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There was a time when I was trying to please everybody. (I believed this would, as a result, please me). Long story short, I spent my weekdays working two jobs, tutoring a bunch of kids, and writing textbooks (as well as fitting in time to train and to see Michelle). On weekends I’d drive to SD to see my parents, fly to SF to see my brother, or carve out some time to see my friends (as well as struggle to find time to train and to see Michelle).

It took several years for me to realize that my lifestyle needed some refinement. First of all, pleasing everybody is simply not possible. Second, because I was attempting to focus on so many different things — in essence, because I was multi-tasking my life — I was not putting all of my energy into any one thing.

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Instead, I was divided; or more appropriately, I was being drawn and quartered.

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The worst part? I was doing it by choice. And the second worst part? I was mediocre — at best — regarding the many things I was attempting to squeeze into my life.

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It took quite a lot of time to finally make the decision to change my lifestyle. I finally had a fairly sizable epiphany: Mediocrity is sub-optimal.

In order to live optimally, I didn’t need to focus on time management. By many standards, I was likely among the most talented at time management.

What I had to change was my prioritization. (And this is likely true for anybody who is not performing optimally.)

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I chose to prioritize my life as follows:
PERSONAL
PROFESSIONAL
PHYSICAL

Specifically, I chose to focus on (in this order) my wife, my teaching, and my training.

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Prioritizing like this will not win you any popularity contests, for if you truly commit to the priorities you’ve identified, you’ll start saying “No” more frequently.

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Before prioritizing, I was essentially a “Yes Man”. I said “Yes” to almost every party, every BBQ, every trip, every job offer, every drink — I said “Yes” to most things.

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But now it’s different. For two years I have been focused on Michelle, Mt. SAC, and Ironman.

The results are not shocking. I have been a better, more supportive, understanding, available husband. I have become a more passionate and energetic teacher. And I have become a significantly faster Ironman triathlete.

Is this type of prioritization good for everybody? Probably not. There are plenty of people who seek little more than mediocrity. And let’s face it: the exceptions may exist as well — those who can focus on thirty different priorities and do so optimally.

However, for those of you who lay awake at night because you know you were destined for something greater, perhaps priority management is the secret to your eventual success.

Perhaps you needn’t focus on managing your time more effectively. Perhaps you might simply re-examine who and what you’re giving your time to.

The critics will be quick to note that my suggestion regarding priority management is selfish — that we shouldn’t prioritize our needs over the needs of others.

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However, I’d submit that while my priorities are selfish, others could certainly make philanthropy their Personal or Professional priority. A person’s priorities should simply reflect what is most important to that person.

It’s a bit like that Bon Jovi song: “It’s my life. It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna’ live forever”.

Or perhaps like that Eminem song: “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted . . . Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?”

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