We have this amazing piece of technology in our house called a DVR. For those of you who don’t know, it’s like a huge hard drive attached to our television. I always feel like a paid endorsement when I tell people how this little black box has changed our lives. We set it to record only the things we want to watch and then we can play them back whenever we choose. We program it to record shows that air during bath time so we can view them later, because in our house, bath time is more important than television. We use it to Pause live TV when we get a phone call from Korea, because in our house, that person on the other end is more important than television. We use it to record the last 40 minutes of a late game when we have an early morning the next day, because in our house a restful night's sleep is more important than knowing the final score.
In short, we got this miraculous recording device because it puts us back in charge of our priorities. It lets us teach our children, and occasionally reminds the grown-ups, that although we do love TV in our house, it is never the priority.
But that’s not the end of this story… it could be, but it’s not.
This DVR. This soulless recording instrument. This little black box that holds my nightly programming in stasis while life rages on all around it. This device actually taught me something a few years ago…
I know, I know…just hang on…this is good.
A bit of explanation first. When I set up our DVR, it asks me to make a big list of all the shows we want to record. I just type in the names and the DVR automatically saves them. It figures out when they are on and how long they last. It records multiple shows, on multiple channels. It adjusts when they get delayed because of late breaking news broadcasts or double overtime. It just knows…it’s amazing. I can add new shows to this list at any time. I can just keep piling them on, one after another. New channels, pay-per-view, cable, network, comedy, drama or reality. Half hour, full hour, feature length. More, more, more. Whatever I think we might want. Or need.
But then…every once in awhile…when I try and add just one more thing to an over loaded schedule, I get a little pop up message from the DVR.
There is a problem with the new item you have added to the list.
The conflict has been resolved by priority.
And then the message disappears. During the time the message was on the screen, the DVR recognized that I have asked it to do too many things during the same hour of television and it has simply chosen to record only the most important stuff. The higher a show is on my big list, the higher the priority. Simple. The DVR may record that missed show eventually. It looks for a time when it’s going to be on again later and tries to find it, but in that hour, the conflict gets resolved by priority. The DVR doesn’t feel guilty about missing a show. It simply resolves by priority. The DVR doesn’t explode when it has too many shows things to do at 8pm on Thursday night. It resolves by priority. The DVR doesn’t do a half assed job recording three shows at once. It has a list, and it resolves by priority. The DVR doesn’t yell at its children when they are all asking it to do something at the same moment…so you see where we’re going with this…
What did I learn from my DVR then? I’ve got to have a list. A mental list. A big list. Of all the things I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve got to know that I can keep adding to this list, any time I like, because things come up. New things. Comedy. Drama. Reality. Things I wasn’t expecting. I’ve got be comfortable making adjustments for delays due to late breaking news or missing gym shoes or strep throat or impromptu celebrations. I’ve got to be comfortable moving things around on this list. It can't always all get done in the same day. Just because I started my day with one thing as my priority, doesn’t mean it has to stay at the top of my list. I’m in charge of the list. But I’m also in charge of knowing how many things I can accomplish at the same time. Accomplish well. At the same time.
And when there’s a conflict, I may need to resolve by priority.