What are your priorities?
If you’ve never sat down to think about this question, you might draw a blank at first. Throughout the day and week, there are so many demands on our time and attention: our family, partner, work, housework, meal prep, chauffeuring kids to and fro, education, side projects, to name just a few!
Obviously, some of these mean more to us than others. Spending time with our partner and children is certainly more important than vacuuming, but it can be easy to forget that and get caught up in the minutiae of small tasks. This is why it’s critical to have a good, hard, honest conversation with yourself about your priorities. That way, you can come up with ways to make sure your priorities are met before the small stuff grabs your attention.
In my family, school is a priority. I tell my kids that “school is your job right now,” not to discourage them from pursuing extracurriculars or getting a job, but to remind them that at their age, their number one commitment is to do well in school. If they want to do other things (and of course, they do!) I make sure they understand that homework and school projects cannot take a backseat to athletic competitions, jobs, or social engagements.
If you struggle to prioritize your priorities (we all do!) you are not alone. Here are 7 strategies to help you put your priorities in the front seat:
- Front-load your week. Try to schedule the front of your week most heavily. Prioritize getting your biggest projects done first, whether at work or at home. This has two benefits: 1) it allows you to relax the rest of the week, and 2) if something urgent comes up, you have time and space to handle it in the second half of your week
- Unplug. Digital devices are a blessing most of the time, but can also be a time and attention suck! If you need to focus on one of your priorities, try turning off your phone, or even hiding it from yourself! Put on some ambient music, but keep the TV off. Unplugging can go a long way in honing your focus and productivity.
- Plan ahead. If you have a wide open Saturday, you may think to yourself, “I’ll get so much done!” If you want that to be true, you need to create a plan. Decide what you will do, and equally importantly, what you won’t do! It also helps to get together the materials or resources you need in advance.
- Schedule more time than you think you need. It’s tempting to be optimistic and think, “I’ll get x, y, and z done in an hour!” Do yourself a favor and plan for your priorities to take more time than you expect. Again, this builds in room for the unexpected and ensures that you won’t feel rushed or disappointed in yourself.
- Enlist help/delegate. Are there important but not urgent things that someone else can take care of? Can your kids take on more responsibilities in the home? Can you pass tasks off onto your assistant at work?
- Simplify. It’s important to periodically ask yourself, “do I *really* need to do this? Just because your mother did doesn’t mean you need to. If you frequently feel overwhelmed by your priorities, you may need to eliminate some of them! Simplifying what you ask of yourself is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and actually get important things done.
How do you ensure that your priorities get done every week? What’s one priority that always seems to fall through the cracks?