Home > Learning, Personal, Reflections > It’s not a priority.

It’s not a priority.

About twenty years ago, I took Econ my first term at university. Since it was online, I could fit it in whenever I wanted from week to week.

I don’t remember much of what I studied in that University of Oregon basement Social Studies computer lab. My brain’s been filled with law, contracts, and IT knowledge that’s displaced much of what came before. And yet, reading a political text a couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered an economic concept that matters very much to my life right now: opportunity cost.

From Chalmers Johnson’s Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope


Before I read that, I’d understood I haven’t been using my time well recently. I just didn’t have a way to explain it clearly, not even to myself … until I saw the words “opportunity costs.”

When I spend hours on Twitter, when I have arguments not worth having, when I type long essays in states of dismay, I’ve wasted precious minutes much better spent elsewhere. In doing one thing impulsively (or compulsively), I’ve lost an opportunity to do something else that I genuinely wanted to do. Something that might power me through fights worth taking on.

I decided I need to be more conscientious about how I spend my time. I’m making better-for-me choices (virtually!) every day.

Today, home sick with an adverse reaction to something or other, I cheered at this post … and an exchange of comments below it. Athena’s words spoke to thoughts already on my mind, reminding me to actively choose my priorities.

Rather than regret opportunities squandered, I’m going to start saying, “It’s not a priority.” No one else gets to define mine or dictate them to me, though my husband, kids, and manager have some say!

Today, my priority is resting, followed by snuggling, reading, and reflecting. These things refuel me in ways that no amount of caffeine or sugar can.

I need the real stuff. The good fuel.

What about you? Are you getting enough good fuel?

  1. February 24, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Oh yay! Glad you found it helpful. Hope your refueling goes well today! 🙂

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:05 am

      It was very restful, thanks! Informative, too; I learned from a doctor visit that I should heed the voice inside saying “maybe don’t donate blood today” if I ever hear it again. :p

      • February 25, 2017 at 8:40 am

        Indeed – of all the voices in one’s head, that’s a good one to listen to! 😉

  2. February 24, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Sounds like a solid strategy. Good for you. ❤

  3. February 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Omg, this (and Athena’s blog) was perfect!

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:07 am

      I looooved it! I recently told someone, “Sure, I care about [x], but it’s roughly 8,043 on my priority list.” Seeing “it’s not a priority” converted that from a one-time statement to a principle. 😀

  4. February 24, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve been tossing similar thoughts around. Remember the simple little mantra the programmers gave us, so many years ago? “GIGO” was the acronym, and it stood for “garbage in, garbage out.” Ain’t that the truth?

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Oh, my gosh! That comes up at work every so often (speaking of the systems we use). You’re so right. It really does apply well beyond computer systems.

  5. February 25, 2017 at 5:02 am

    I hope you are feeling better! Sometimes I forget my priorities and then something will remind me to stay true to them. I have learned to say no to people and events that interrupt my priorities. 😊

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:10 am

      I was pretty good about this early last year, but kinda lost my way! I’m finding it again, and it’s a relief. (Realizing most the opportunities lost were with my guys was an important path to perspective!)

  6. February 25, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Yes! And if for some reason everything becomes a priority, I find it’s better to just take a moment to recap and attack the to-do list afterwards.

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Exactly! When everything seems urgent, that’s a sign to take a step back and start seeing the individual pieces of what only seems like one unified mass of obligation.

  7. February 25, 2017 at 9:17 am

    This is a good read for me today. I’ve been feeling pulled in many directions, spending too much time on things that are not priorities in my life right now. My email is a good example, getting notices about things such as fighting school vouchers in the state where I live. While I do believe education is important, I no longer have children in the public school system (they are all grown) and this is not my battle anymore. And oh, the time I spend on Twitter and Facebook, clicking through the latest news and arguments.

    Thank you. I’m going to start prioritizing my time, too, and spending more time on the good stuff that keeps me going. 🙂

  8. February 26, 2017 at 3:00 am

    Sorry you got sick, but at least you’re getting a little R&R and getting your priorities in order is always a plus!

    I actually got a chance to write yesterday for the first time in a long time and it felt good, a great way to refuel!

  9. February 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Several years ago I stopped using the word “Time” and replaced it with “priority”. It is easy to say “I don’t have time for that”, but not as easy when you sub in Priority. For example. “My dearest niece, I don’t have time to go shopping with you this weekend” vs “Dear niece, you are not a priority for me this weekend” Or “I don’t have time to work out” vs “My health is not a priority for me”. It made a difference. It helped me realign my life with my goals. It freaked a few people out when they heard “I”m sorry, that is lower on my priority list right now”; however, most are used to hearing it. It’s been life changing for me – so I hope it works out well for you!

  10. February 27, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Opportunity costs is a great way to put this! I’m glad you’re learning how to prioritize yourself.

  11. March 1, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Really great article, found it an excellent way of making a crucial point, you only live once

  1. February 25, 2017 at 10:43 am
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