Important Priorities

Okay, I know. “Important priorities” is redundant. Priorities denote importance. So what is important to you? Ask yourself what your priorities are. Do we think about that very often, or is running around putting out fires the basis of our lives? Is doing as little as possible and being comfortable the basis of our lives to where that is the only priority we have?

Here’s an exercise: Keep track of what you do for a day or a week or a month. It can be a rough accounting. At the end of the day or week, think about what you did and for approximately how long. It might be something like this:

This week, I slept 58 hours, I worked at my job (including getting ready, and traveling to and from the job) 53 hours, I relaxed (or had fun or did nothing-much: aimless television, aimless reading of newspapers, magazines, novels, aimless internet, aimless conversations and socializing, being with friends instead of with family, etc.) for 36 hours, I ate (including preparation and clean-up) for 16 hours, I shopped for two hours, and I’m not sure what I did for the remaining three hours.

If this were your accounting, what would anyone think are your priorities? Sleep is good and making money is important. Eating is necessary. Can’t fault you for that. Then again, do you sleep to live or live to sleep? How late did you sleep in on Saturday and Sunday? 58 hours equates to more than 8 hours per night. Do you do the minimum necessary to get a paycheck or are you always getting better and becoming of more worth to your present and future employers? When it comes to discretionary time, it looks like you don’t care much about accomplishing anything. Your priorities are to be comfortable and relax. That’s about it.

If we don’t set priorities, we have them anyway. Life can show us our priorities or we can show life our priorities.

Someone who has purposeful priorities and takes control of her life instead of letting life drift in the wind might have an accounting something like this:

This week, I slept for 55 hours, I worked at my job (including getting ready, and traveling to and from the job) for 53 hours. Included in this time I spent seven hours improving myself and showing my supervisor that I am doing more than is expected so that I can be promoted and paid more. I relaxed (relaxing reading, television, internet, socializing) for 12 hours. Most of this was pleasant time and fun with my spouse and with my children rather than in isolation and irritation if anyone bothered me. I ate (including preparation and clean-up) for 17 hours. The whole family helped prepare the meals and clean up afterwards, and we talked during meals about school, goals, dreams, accomplishments, and so forth. I shopped for two hours. I spent 10 hours in introspection, spiritual pursuits, general self improvement, becoming expert at skills and talents that interest me, helping to improve the human condition as much as I can, improving our community, and so forth. I spent 10 hours directly with my spouse and with the children, other than having fun and talking to them at dinner, helping with homework, helping them prepare for life, cleaning the house and yard together, etc. I spent six hours in physical exercise. I spent three hours making sure my papers, receipts, finances, books, memories, and so forth are organized.

Did you know you could do so much in a week if you just had and acted on priorities?

If someone were to look at this second accounting, what would they think of your priorities? It looks like you’re trying to improve yourself so that you are always employable and so that you can make good money. You spend time getting to know yourself, improving yourself generally, keeping yourself healthy, and in helping others. Family is obviously important to you, and you certainly understand how important it is to train and help your children and stay in tune with your spouse. Organization so that you can get more out of life is a priority for you.

In this second accounting, even though there was relaxing and having fun, doing nothing or wasting time or being comfortable at the expense of getting better were not seen as priorities.

Priorities help us get the most from our lives. We can accomplish more. We can get further. We can even relax, socialize, and have more fun with priorities. I’ll say it again. Life can show us our priorities or we can show life our priorities.

This week, let’s think about our priorities. Are they a tool we use to get where we should be, or are they something we pay no attention to? Let’s make sure we are going somewhere and that we are using priorities to get there.

Managing Time Involves Clarity About Your Priorities

Technology has transformed our perception of things. All sorts of information are readily available at the push of a button. You want to know how to cook just Google the name of the recipe. You want to learn how to repair your water tap go on YouTube. Our minds are constantly assailed by information every minute. Our privacy is constantly under pressure with the use of Smartphones: emails, What’s App?, BBM, etc. Has there been a day when you feel that you can totally ignore your Smartphone, Ipad, laptop?

You wish that it would be as simple as turning them off and not even feel guilty about it. Well, some of you have been courageous to take that first step and feel totally liberated or completely stressed out… Remember the time when there was no internet. Some of you can’t even picture it as you were too young. They were the times when a friend meant somebody whom you have actually met, talked to and shared many things together. When you wanted to know what was happening overseas, you had to buy the newspaper or waited for the TV or Radio news broadcast. Those were the days!!! You must be thinking where is she going with all this? Is she becoming nostalgic all of a sudden?

Our time management skills are constantly being challenged. There is a constant need to review your list of “To Do things” every day or sometimes every hour. At work, you are sometimes unable to complete what you have started due to more pressing matters. Being the perfectionist, this unfinished task is nagging you at the back of your mind. At home, there is always a list of things in progress – the laundry, the gardening, the food shopping list, the children’s homework. The list is endless. In the midst of all this, finding some “me time” makes you feel guilty or become a real luxury treat!

Effective time management is about setting your priorities in the right order. Right order does not mean those with the highest amount of pressure. Pressure is something that is perceived and constructed in your own mind. Your top priorities are those that are congruent with your values, norms and beliefs. There is a simple exercise that you can do on your own.

1. Your priorities list
List all the things that you would like to be able to do in the different areas of your life. For each one of them, what is the motivation or reason for you to include it in your list?

2. Arrange them in order of importance.
What impact would it make to your life if you achieve each one of them? What are the payoffs for you to put time and effort into realising them?

3. Testing your determination.
Now, you are going on a trip in a hot air balloon. Each one of your priorities is going to be stored in a box. Each box is of equal weight and size. As the hot air balloon rises, you can see, what it would be like if you were able to achieve your priorities. What images, feelings come to your mind? What would it sound like if you were going to sing about it?

You are now as high as the clouds and suddenly the winds become stronger. The burner flame weakens and the hot air balloon starts to descend dangerously. For you to survive, you would need to decrease the weight of the wicker basket. This is a life and death situation. It is either you or the boxes.

What would you take out first? Remember each priority box is of the same weight. You are told that you are able to keep only one, maybe two. As you let go of each box, what happens? What makes it difficult or easy to let go?

4. Reassess your priorities list
Are they still the same? If yes, then your perspective of life is congruent with your lifestyle. If not, there is always time to re arrange your priorities and to make the desired changes. What have stopped you from doing them? What steps can you take right now to start the changes?

5. Review your lifestyle according to your final list of priorities.
If you have chosen “being healthy” as your no 1 priority, do you spend time looking after yourself? What would it mean to be healthy? Are you actually doing them?

The hot air balloon exercise can be used to test how strong your values are, what are the main priorities in your job search or career choice. The outcome of the exercise changes over time and it is recommended to do this exercise occasionally.

Five Simple Steps to Clarifying Your Priorities

So many people think that they have priorities. They know that their jobs and families are priorities. They know that eating well and exercising are priorities. So why are so many people over weight, stressed out, out of shape and divorced?

There is a difference between knowing what should be a priority and actually setting and sticking to them. So if you think you know your priorities, but have a chaotic, unsatisfying life, it’s time to think again and then reassess!

First thing you need to do is to create a life vision. When you know exactly what you want for you life, you can easily assess what needs to stay and what needs to go. Create a vision board or journal what you want your life to look like. Make sure you cover all life areas: Career, Finances, Personal Development, Family, Relationships, Fun, Health, and Environment.

After you have your life vision compare what you have right now, to it. Where are the disparities? If you want to be fit and healthy, what is stopping you? Why are you 40 lbs over weight? What excuses are you giving yourself?

Now start to clear out the “clutter.” Keep in mind that there is emotional, physical and mental clutter and it all needs to go. Physical clutter (like a messy office), lead to mental clutter (trying to remember where you put the Visa bill and if you paid it) which leads to emotional clutter (going shopping to escape the stress, which then results in more physical and mental clutter!). Anything that doesn’t fit into your life vision needs to go.

While you are clearing the clutter you have to remember to stop the flow of things into your life. You need to learn to say no. Think of this as self preservation instead of selfish. When you take good care of yourself, you have more space to give from love instead of from resentment or obligation.

The last thing you need to do to help clarify your priorities is listen to your gut. You probably have people and things in your life that make you feel uneasy. And yet they stay in your life. Why? Your intuition is trying to tell you something so you should listen!

Those five things should help you at least get started on viewing your life. You deserve to only have people, places and things in your life that represent who you are and help you attain success, happiness, health and wealth.