Family Matters

Percolating Priorities


There isn't enough time to get things done. At work I find myself with much more to do than I can possibly do and we don't have the budget to hire more help. I feel chronically behind and often overwhelmed.


It's tempting to invite God to revisit the issue of providing only 24 hours in each day. We could all use a few more hours to get things done. Could he have been wrong about that one?

Time is a precious gift from God. Everything we do takes time, and time spent can never be recovered. So we want to prioritize our time and direct it toward the things that are most important. After all, time wasted is life wasted.

You'll have to take the time (I know that'll be hard to do) and figure out what are the most important aspects of your job. What are the most important things that your boss has hired you to do? (You don't want to guess on this one. If you are not certain about the goals and expectations she has for you, you should meet with her.) What are the most important things that only you can do? Thinking in this way will help you home in on the essentials.

Every job is different, but I find there are usually four essential areas that every employee has some responsibility to fulfill:

1. Improving or maintaining the quality of the service or product.

2. Contributing to the morale of the work environment so it is a productive and enjoyable place to spend time in.

3. Helping customers appreciate, or get the most out of, core products and services. (All professions have customers. For example, teachers have students, parents and senior faculty as their customers.)

4. Attracting and retaining customers, investors or stakeholders.

Profits and job stability are generally the rewards for fulfilling these four core functions. How directly or indirectly you would contribute value to each of these areas would depend upon your job responsibilities. If you are addressing these areas, you are probably doing the most important things. If you are not addressing these issues, then you may feel that you are not being productive with your time.

These four areas are not the most important priorities in life. Your relationship with Christ, your spouse and your children, along with your personal integrity, would all be more important. But in the domain of work, you have to determine where your time is best spent. Then, as time-management expert Brian Tracey suggests, you can “creatively procrastinate” in the areas that are a lot less important.

When you awake, start your day by going to the most important person in your life — Christ — and flat-out ask him to inspire your thoughts, words and actions. Ask him to help you do them with love for him and according to his will. This not only provides a focus but also invites in the grace to get to the essentials.

When you are commuting home from work, do an examination of conscience: Ask yourself how much time you spent on critical and value-added tasks that day, and how much you spent on other, less-important things. Identify what you did to be so productive and what you need to adjust to not fall prey to inessentials.

Art Bennett is director of Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Services in Vienna, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland.

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Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.