Prioritizing What Matters, Part II

Everyday choices about how you spend your time can move your top priorities forward.

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on the topic: Prioritizing What Matters. We’re testing out a three-step process to identify what is most important to us and align our actions with our top three priorities.

The steps are:

  1. Define your priorities by writing them down.
  2. When you’re presented with a choice about how to spend your time, consider if it moves one of those top priorities forward.
  3. On a regular basis, evaluate how your priorities are matching up with the way you’re actually spending your time.

In our last episode, we talked about defining our priorities in Step 1, so we recommend listening to that first if you haven’t already. Today’s episode focuses on Steps 2 and 3.

Step 2

Melia put Step 2 into action earlier this week. She was in the middle of typing notes for this episode when her 5-year-old son asked her to come play with him. She paused what she was doing to play with him because “Nurturing relationships with family and friends” was at the top of her priorities list and creative work was second.

Gill thought about Step 2 when she had an unexpected block of free time. Normally, she’d automatically jump into another paid work project, but this time she remembered that one of her priorities is finding a balance between paid work and creative work. She took advantage of the free time to work on a fun side project with Brian.

Step 3

Overall, Melia feels good about how she’s doing with her top three priorities. In Step 3, she imagined the time she’d spent during the past week as a pie chart, and it matched up to what’s important to her. She still wants to apply this process in the context of her paid work so she can prioritize her long to-do lists.

Gill also feels pretty good about Step 3. In general, she’s finding a decent balance among her priorities. And she accepted that one way that keeps her on track with her first priority (making health and wellness part of her everyday life), is her Fitbit. She’s lost several over the years, and she almost didn’t replace this last one… until she realized how much it helps her stay active.

What’s Working for Us: Tips to Try

  • You may be able to do it all – just not all at once. It’s OK to stop doing things that don’t move your current priorities forward. You can always pick them up later.
  • You’ll have to say no to some things so you leave time for your priorities. If that’s tough for you, say “Let me think about it,” which adds a buffer of time that lets you segue to a gracious no.
  • Remember that every little decision or action contributes to moving big priorities forward. Take a step back; all those small choices do add up over time. Think of how your future self will feel when choosing between Option A and Option B.
  • You can shift your priorities as needed. For example, work may become your top priority temporarily if you have a timely project, then you can refocus on your loved ones when it finishes.
  • Use the The Eisenhower Method framework, which stems from a quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
  • Consider your future self when choosing how to use your time now. Will Future You curse or thank Past You for setting her up for success or struggle?

Steal This Tip

Today’s tip is: Take advantage of an unexpected reset to help you manage your time and your priorities.

If you have to reset your mobile device to factory settings or get a new one, install only the apps that move your top priorities forward. If you have too many tabs open and your browser crashes, resist the urge to restore open tabs. Then you can consider what would be the best use of your time right now and intentionally open a new tab for that purpose.

Get in Touch

What are the top priorities in your life, and how do your everyday choices move them forward? Drop us a line at podcast[at]semitogether.com or comment on our Facebook page. And please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast wherever you listen.