Priority

“Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn’t always have to be their top priority.”

William Arthur Ward

The sky looks incredible this evening. Gradients of purple and pink kiss the mountains of my hometown.

I’m walking along with the Tennessee River and can’t help but look up and window snoop at some of the visible apartments high above.

Despite the riverside view, I’m seeing glimpses of what you’d see in any house—no matter how poor or rich you are.

Couches, lamps, curtains. Vague shapes of paintings or perhaps photos on the walls. Busy kitchens and empty kitchens.

Flickers of images from TVs stand out the most. The size and quality might change, but you’ll find one in many houses across the modern world. Something about this makes me laugh. No matter how rich you get, you still are gonna make sure you don’t miss your latest show episodes. Entertainment is a great equalizer.

We’ve always been a storytelling people. Nowadays, we’ve traded campfires and spoken stories for pixels, streaming, and social media.

I admire the people who have decided to live without owning a TV. Up until recently, I’ve always had one, or at least my family has. I watch things more on my iPad and phone more than anything these days.

I love watching good shows and movies. I love them in the creative sense too. The interwoven combination of direction, acting, production, design, fashion, and storytelling that goes into creating a film. There’s an unbelievable amount of good stuff out there these days. Palm Springs. The Old Guard. What We Do in The Shadows. Dark. The Last Dance. And that doesn’t even get me started about YouTube.

As much as I enjoy it, I’m also occasionally gut checking why I’m watching one thing or another. “Am I watching this to enjoy, or am I watching this to distract myself from what I actually want/need to do?” It’s a tough question and usually has a tough answer.

If you’re an adult, there are no rules—you can watch whatever whenever you want. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. I’m not here to patronize or get on a soapbox. I’m, more or less, observing my own life and patterns.

Sometimes I need to stop learning, put down the book, turn off the TV, and get to work.

And other times I need to put down my work and call a friend and check in on them. Or take a breather and go for a walk. And, of course, occasionally watch a good episode or two. Everything is balance. A moderation of competing priorities on your time.

The key is to prioritize your life around the values and results you are looking for.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1003

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Time Well Spent

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Steve Jobs

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Bertrand Russell

One thing you learn very quickly when pursuing a creative skill — or any skill for that matter — is it takes more time than you think it does.

A skill isn’t just the skill itself, it’s also everything that surrounds it.

Let’s say you’ve grown up on boxed foods your entire life, and one day you decide you want to learn to cook. Great! Cooking is a useful skill to have. Not only can home-cooked food be better for you and taste 10x better than 90% of restaurants and 99% of packages foods, but you’ll also be able to share with other people who are in your life. (Food gatherings = closer family, more connected community.)

But wait, there’s more to cooking than the time it takes to crack a few eggs in a pan and call it dinner (although, some nights are like that). Cooking is multiple things combined:

  • Research
    • What do I want to cook? How do I cook it? What do I cook it with? How long?
  • Experimentation
    • What if I tried paprika? What type of acid flavor do I want to use? What happens if…
  • Pick up
    • Getting to the store, Playing where’s Waldo with each grocery item, waiting in line or waiting for your delivery, Going home from the store.
  • Prep
    • Washing, Chopping, Dicing, Salting, etc.
  • Cooking
    • Getting the oven ready, watching the food cook, etc
  • Eating
  • Cleaning
    • Dishes, Leftovers in the fridge.

All of this is worth the price of admission, but as you can see it’s going to take a lot longer than you think it might. (You can see why meal prep, food delivery, and dinner delivery companies are on the rise.) And it’s not just cooking that requires a lot of time to do it properly. Every skill requires time. There’s a hidden cost to every skill (and everything we do).

This is why the majority of Renaissance people are terrible at managing their time.

I’m bad at this. When I hear about some rad interesting skill I want to jump in immediately and learn it. Now, there’s a time for trying new things and expanding your skillsets, but if you want to master something, you’ve got to prioritize it by giving it your most valuable resource: time.

Time management is essential to finding mastery and living a meaningful life.

Which means we have to be picky about where and who we give our time too.

The best place to start is to figure out where all your time is going.

RescueTime is an automated time tracking app that will show you where you spend your time during your digital life.

Dig around in your iPhone or Android phone settings and you’ll find similar screen time averages.

I’ve also personally be thoroughly using my calendar app to track every minute of my day, so I know how much time I’m spending doing what.

Not knowing where your time is going is letting life steer you, versus your controlling life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #862

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