That’s not a priority for me…

The past week has seemed to center around how to use my time more effectively. At a special event celebrating the incredible contributions of Debbi and Speedy Zweiback, Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback talked about the importance of coveting time. Time is the one entity that God commands us to covet, when he ordained the Sabbath as a day to be observed and cherished. The idea of the Sabbath as a peaceful day with the absence of time constraints is also a worthy goal for our every day routines.

This important thought came at the tail end of a week I might describe as chaotic, to say the least. At the minimum, I didn’t have one second of down time and certainly no days, hours, or even minutes of carefully planned and wonderfully executed checklists. I ran from one meeting to the next, frantically trying to stay ahead of the endless requests and action items that were building up or just popping onto my calendar unannounced. Finally, the week was over with very little progress made on things I thought REALLY mattered.

When the week was about half over, I was seriously contemplating the craziness that had become my daily schedule. With time management weighing heavily on my mind, it was no surprise when people in my world started making random comments about the topic. This tends to happen when I’m ruminating about a certain thing. The Universe sends messages to get me on the right path or at least thinking about a better way forward.

My son Skyler provided me with an incredibly great thought, after I bemoaned not having enough time in a day. He recommended exchanging the sentence, “I don’t have time for this” with “That’s not a priority for me right now.” If this change in perspective makes sense, move forward. However, if it doesn’t make sense and you’re not addressing something that really should be important, it helps get you straightened out with better thinking. For example, if I am experiencing some kind of serious medical issue, instead of saying, “I don’t have time for this”, I say, “This isn’t a priority for me right now.” This proclamation reveals the silliness of neglecting a serious medical issue simply because of time management struggles.

When I take this concept and apply it to my student’s practice habits, it really helps to separate what is important, but maybe not seemingly urgent. Just because a student has an upcoming performance does not mean they should be allowed to play with the world’s worst bow hold. “I don’t have time to fix my bowhold.” sounds ludicrous when it’s reframed as “Playing with a good bowhold is not a priority for me right now.” Even in my teaching, I realized how easy it was to get caught up in preparation for a performance and miss the forest for the trees. Lessons are for learning to play the violin or viola, not learning to play a piece of music, although this happily occurs during the course of experience. Focus on the technical or musical concept that will improve the player the most, regardless of impending performances. There will always be another performance around the corner, but poor technique can be removed to enhance the next performance on the horizon.

I have resolved to make better decisions about how I use my time, which is so precious and definitely finite. As my sister Paula’s blog headlined,
“Spoiler Alert: Everyone dies!” As morbid as the thought is, it’s painfully true…Make the important things your priorities and watch yourself grow more rapidly and experience life more fully. That’s the big picture! However, if you are applying this to your practice world and not the arc of your life journey, I still say a big congratulations! Your progress will be stunning when you start prioritizing the important aspects of your playing that need to be addressed! Covet your time and use it wisely!

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