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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Allan’s Advice # 3 – Time Sensitive Decisions

Hey guys! I felt like I was neglecting this column for a bit since I haven’t written another post for Allan’s Answers in about 4 months. I couldn’t really think of anything to advise people about until this thought came across my mind today. Some decision happened where I was weighing two possible options and heard the phrase “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity” to describe and try to convince me to do one of the options. This got me thinking “wow since I will only be able to do this one time in my life I probably should do it now because I won’t ever get the chance to do it again.” Decisions like these and my advice on how to deal with them are what this post will be about.

Everybody has their own decisions and ideologies on how they should live their lives but nobody can really tell you the right or wrong way on how to do it. Of course there are certain things you should stay away from like illegal activities and certain things we all should do like get an education, but for the most part nobody can tell you the right or wrong way on how to live your own life. There are however certain situations where you are met with multiple options to choose in a decision making process. A lot of times they will be tough decisions to make with no choice being seemingly better than the other. One way to better this is through time sensitivity and relevancy. These though can usually only be determined through personal perspective.

Two important things to be judged and considered when making a time sensitive decision is what needs to be done now vs. what can only be done now. These are two separate things but can overlap at times. For instance, if you can only work on your history project now and it needs to be done by tomorrow you definitely should work on it instead of going out to play. When looked at separately, what needs to be done now gets overriding priority over everything else. Because of the need for completion, failure to do something right now and not getting it done within an allotted amount of time will most likely be met with punishments and consequences. Things that can only be done now aren’t required to be done and should be treated with less urgency but are still nonetheless important on their own. These things are like Haley’s Comet or other rare events that you don’t normally see on a day to day basis. Unless you get lucky and you are like 10 the first time you see the comet, you may be able to see it more than once in your lifetime but since it only comes around about every 75 to 76 years, I would consider it something you could only do now or whenever it comes around. Events like these require careful planning and consideration. At any given time there are usually more than one thing you can be doing. Whether it is watching TV, going on Facebook or to school or a job or even to sleep, there really isn’t any time when we aren’t doing anything even when we think so. Because of this we need to make decisions on what we should spend our time on because not everything can be done right now and something’s can only be done right now.

This leads me to my next point about priorities and the different levels of importance. Priorities are things established in the past and determine to have a high amount of precedence in your future actions the higher they are ranked. For instance, your first priority will get almost all of your attention and resources directed towards it until it is satisfactorily accomplished. When you talk about time sensitive decisions, they represent decisions that need to be done within a certain amount of time and the window of opportunity constantly closes as time progresses. You need to be organized and keep your priorities realistic to be able to accomplish the most within and ever diminishing time frame. Priorities help you keep straight what needs and can only be done now and maximize your output for the limited amount of time we are all given in life.

Living here and now in the present is also a huge part of time sensitive decisions. Most of the time in our busy lives we don’t spend much time living mentally in the present. Like the note I wrote about time zones, most of our time is either spent looking back and reflecting on what we’ve done or looking towards the future and planning what we will do next with our lives down the road. Living here and now means that you can completely recognize the time constraints set by each option which gives you a better perspective on what you should do and when you should do it. Living in the present means you pay extra attention to your current surroundings. You surroundings play a huge role in determining the different restrictions when it comes to completing something. If your work environment needs to have a report done by tonight, then being extra aware of your surroundings means you will be conscious of this and set it as your number one priority if it needs to be done in the quickest amount of time. A lot of time it does take being future conscious because if you are aware of deadlines before they come to crunch time, you can better prepare and have the report done way before it becomes an urgent concern. Relevancy can also be a part of time sensitive decisions because how closely related it is to the current situation means how much present conscious views it will be given because your mind will be more focused on it because it has a lot to do with how you are currently living your life.

This note also has a lot to do with the saying that there’s never enough time in the day to do everything that you want to do. There is almost infinite different things you can do throughout a single day and each require time. Because of the way we define time, there is way too much that we can’t fit a whole lot within the 24 hour restrictions we have each and every day. We have to organize and plan accordingly and have the flexibility to be somewhat prepared for whatever life throws at us. There will inevitably be some times when someone comes to you with a last minute job or request that you must oblige to and put down whatever you are currently working on. Having this built in flexibility allows you to still be able to keep up with your time sensitive ordeals as well as complete whatever other task is at hand.

The important thing about knowing the current situation when it comes to options that have time constraints is the fact that once you miss it you can’t go back and get a redo or a chance to do it again, especially if it’s a once in a lifetime thing. There are so many variables that go into any given situation that it is almost impossible to recreate them. It is much easier just to be involved the first and probably only go around before you face the consequences or the opportunity just flies right by you. By not taking advantage of opportunities you wish you had, you will most likely develop feelings of regret. Regrets are all based on the past because it is looking at what you did or didn’t do and wishing things had turned out differently. I love this quote from Zachary Scott and feel like it is a good way to handle situations where regret might ensue if you don’t participate in them; "As you grow older, you'll find that the only things you regret are the things you didn't do." Having regrets for what you didn’t do will only turn into a vicious cycle; as you will be so sad about what you missed you will just continue to miss more and more. You need to move on and leave those missed opportunities in the past because there is nothing you can do about it now. You need to be ever aware of the current opportunities and know important information that pertains to them like deadlines. You also need to look towards the future and plan accordingly for opportunities you may want be a part of and you will be able to accomplish almost whatever you set your mind to.

-Allan Nicholas

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