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Priorities: What, Who, and When?

I like to start one of my classes by introducing my students to The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth. Since I teach adults, I do not read them the story, but I do present them with its central questions. They are: What is the most important thing to do? Who is the most important one? When is the best time to do things? After everyone has had an opportunity to share their thoughts, I summarize the story, assure them that there are no right answers, and then tell them the answers proposed by the book.

I was reminded of this story recently because I was trying to answer one of these very questions myself. When is the best time to do things? I asked myself this question because I am struggling with time management as a mother of two. Naps create the biggest, but not the only problem. My youngest will take two naps for several more months. He takes a nap from about 10am – noon and again from about 2pm – 4pm. My older son takes a nap from 12:30pm – 2:30pm. This means that there is very little time during the day when they are both sleeping. The result is that I don’t get to nap, I have to do my work in the middle of the night, and find it difficult to manage my domestic responsibilities.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about all the imaginary women who are able to do it all and do it all well, and I wish I were one of them. I am not one of them, but Jon J. Muth’s answer to the question, When is the best time to do things? applies to this situation as well as it does to the philosophical scenario presented in the story. His answer was, NOW. The best days are the days when I do what I am able to do when I am able to do it. This requires me to have clear priorities, to know that when my children are awake it is important that they are safe, fed, and loved. Once those needs have been met, I consider whether or not I have time for all of the other items on my list of things to do. Some days, I accomplish much of what I want to accomplish. Other days, my children are safe, fed, and loved and that’s enough.

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