Prioritize Your Life: Hack Off a Limb

There’s a tree in my back yard.

Yes, I know. Riveting, right? Gimme a break. We’re going somewhere here.

See this tree is kinda funky looking. It has a bunch of branches at the bottom but the top is just this barren length of wood with a couple of leaves at the tip.  And why does this tree look like this?

Because it’s badly in need of pruning. See there’s only so much sap one tree can produce and all the little branches at the bottom sucked up all the sap that should have gone to the leaves at the top, so eventually the leaves at the top just withered and died.

I was looking at this tree the other day and it occurred to me that my life is a lot the same as that tree. Only instead of sap, I’m running short of time.

I find myself scrambling to fit it all in, and at the end of the day there’s just not enough room for everything I’d like to do. I have to prune some stuff. I have to make sure there’s enough sap left for the important stuff.

Because there some stuff that’s vital, utterly important. These are things that I absolutely refuse to let fall by the wayside. And before you get too far ahead of me, let me stop you and say this: writing is not on that list.

I’m not saying writing isn’t important, but it’s not essential. My family life? Now that’s essential. Keeping a steady job so I don’t starve to death? That’s essential too.

Writing is somewhere in the middle. On most days there’s plenty of fluff I can cut out of other areas of my life to make room for my writing time. But some rare days get filled up with the essential stuff and crowd out the writing to a bare minimum.

And that’s okay.

It doesn’t make you a horrible person or a terrible writer.

So sure, look for those lower branches that need to be cut off. Chances are there are more of them than you think. But don’t let writing leach the sap of time away from the things that are more important.

Never let the good things of life, take away from the best things in life.

This is the only time you get, so do your best to make the most of it. Because it’s running out.

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9 responses to “Prioritize Your Life: Hack Off a Limb

  1. Appreciated the relevant analogy. Priorities in life do require pruning. For me personally, writing is one of my top goals. Therefore, I had to prune other activities from my life to “make room” to write – this necessitated my giving up puppy-parenthood, as it took more time and energy than I had to give. Tough choices – rewarding decisions.

  2. Priorities also depend on your time of life. With children grown and the freedom that comes from living by myself, writing is *it.* Priority number one, for which almost everything else can be pruned away.

  3. So that’s what’s wrong with the tree in my backyard!

    Seriously though, I get your point, and it’s a good one. Let me just say though that for once, finally, after many years of trying to convince myself to take writing seriously, I finally am. Writing will never take the place of First Most Important in my life (well, as long as the two First Most Important are still alive), but now that it’s second, I gotta say, I’m finally happy. Weird, right?

    I still don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, but once I launch into my routine I find myself bouncing through my day pretty happy to be alive. It’s because writing is second. Not fifth, or ninth, or 100th, not something I’ll get to eventually, not something I want to do “if only…”.

    After a couple year long job search to no avail I finally made writing my job, and lo and behold, I love my job! Go figure. I’ll probably never make any money at it, and yes, I’m pathetically broke, but money isn’t everything right?

    So yeah, writing shouldn’t be First Most Important, but maybe it ought to be second. Writing breathes life into a person. Well, this person anyway.

    Happy Writing To All! 🙂

  4. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this today. This morning, the stars aligned, aka my mother-in-law was watching the kids, and I had an hour and a half of FREE writing time! Just as I sat down to write, my friend called. She had a long list of woes she needed to unleash. An hour and a half later, I was near tears…not only because I felt so sad for her, but also because my writing time was GONE!
    I had a bad attitude about it. Until I read this post and you reminded me what things are important. Friends are important. Thanks, Al.

  5. Give the trees a haircut already. Seriously, I know what you mean. So many of us are slaves to work and family responsibilities we wake up old and gray and wonder where all the time went. It is especially bitter if our retirement years are plagued with ill health.

  6. Great post. This week has been a very low writing week due to many important and necessary distractions, and that’s more than okay. Thanks for the important post and reminder!

  7. This post’s title grabbed me, and I was *sure* I was going to hear more about zombies. Huh. Imagine my surprise! Zombie philosophy.

  8. Definitely. Unless we have Hermione’s time turner or there’s more than one of us, we have to cut back on what we’re doing.

  9. So much needs doing in a day and my list for today is as long as my arm. But, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, blossom sits on the crab-apple tree and bluebells have popped up almost everywhere and all I want to do is sit back and soak it up. Does this count as making the best of limited time? Will it help my sap to rise?

    Have fun in the garden Al.

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