The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
On Thursday, for the first time since returning from Maternity leave in October I left my computer at work. When I put my two-year old to bed that night we made shadow puppets with flashlights until he dozed off into sleepy land. What a great moment it was. It was at this moment that I was reminded how important it is to keep the main thing the main thing.
It can be very tempting to let one part of your life dominate you to a point that it consumes all of your time. At this moment, it was work for me. In other moments, it could be my family commitments, hobbies I have or friends.
In his work, Steven Covey says that one habit of highly successful people is to keep the main thing the main thing. This sounds intuitive and easy to do, until we become faced with competing priorities such as getting a report finished for work and spending quality time with our families. Here are some ways I try (am trying) to keep the “main thing the main thing”:
Add some Pizazz to regularly scheduled events – Sometimes I add food coloring to dinner or use the cookie cutter on pancakes to bring a smile to my toddler and husband’s face. It is minimal effort that makes their day a little more exciting than the day before.
Set aside time just for you – There are 24 hours in the day, and I try to find 1 hour a day that I set aside for myself. I am an early riser, so I use the time before my family wakes up to have a cup of tea and read before starting my day. When I get to take time for myself, I am better for my family, my work and me.
Stay in the moment – When I talk to friends and family members on the phone or in person, I try to stay in the moment with them. This is one strategy that becomes hard to do when the kids are awake – so sometimes I call back days (sometimes weeks) later when I can have a completely available conversation. I find that this makes me more fulfilled in my relationships. My sister and I talk everyday (via Bluetooth) after work for 10 minutes to reconnect and catch up.
Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's – When at work, I am at work. I give my all to work while. I work hard and spend my time wisely. When I do this, I am not guilty (or behind) when I leave my computer at work or take a long lunch with a friend occasionally.
Set a schedule and stick to it – Another strategy would be to add a schedule to your personal life. By adding a schedule that you commit to and follow as serious as you do for your work schedule (I am still working on this one) life becomes more predictable. For example, set a time for dinner each night and commit to it, set a time for a family walk and commit to it. This one becomes tricky to implement because so much of our days are structured we naturally want to have free-range at home. Nevertheless, I have found when I am able to follow some type of schedule that my days are longer and the time spent with the kids is of greater quality.