Life Lessons Friday: learning how to prioritize

Last week I wrote about my new To Do List for my phone. While I can't say I'm completely thrilled with the product, I will say that my life changed after I started using it. I'm not sure I'll purchase the software when my trial period ends. It slows down my phone and it doesn't always sync with my computer. I will however look for another type of Task List software to try out.

As soon as I wrote out all of my tasks and had them in plain sight all day long, I was able to see so clearly why I feel like I can't get anything done. I have too much to do! I've been telling myself for a while now to just say "No" to new projects. Now that I see how my time is spent, it's much easier for me to see the need to say that magical word.

How do I want to spend my time? I only have so much time to allocate to different activities every day. Certain things are fixed, such as working specific hours for pay. But the other things that fill my time... do they help me reach my personal goals?

My top goals and intentions are:

taking care of my health
educating my children
appreciating my husband as much as I can

Others are:

living a green lifestyle
staying close with our extended family and our friends
running my household as smoothly as possible
being involved in my church

Those goals are reasonable and attainable. The funny thing is, when I looked at my To Do List, my top priorities weren't at the top. In fact, everything listed under "Other" owned the prime real estate on my calendar. Guess what was at the bottom.... so far at the bottom that it didn't even make it on the list? Me and my health. There were no blocks of time carved out for exercise, and no time set aside to think about mindful eating.

When I realized this, I knew right away what I had to do. I made time to go to the gym. It felt great to be back. I'm going 4 days each week. Something else happened too. I decided I didn't want to be spending so much time doing things that other people can do just as well as I. If it wasn't one of the top 3 priorities, it would have to wait. I went about my life, watching opportunities for involvement float past me and I didn't jump up to grab them. I thought about ways I can shorten my To Do List and put the focus on the Really Important Things.

It's only been a week, and although I feel happy about this, it hasn't been easy. I have had to curb the urge to get involved in things that "look like fun" and understand that someone else will come along who will do it just as well as me, and perhaps better if they're not overwhelmed with too many projects, as I sometimes am. I have had to talk myself down from feeling selfish because I want to spend so much time on things that primarily benefit me and my family. It's not selfish to focus on us, I know, but I haven't been accustomed to thinking about it so clearly. There are a few old ways that need mending here.

All in all, I see the value of writing things down and keeping track of what causes frustration, pain and confusion. It took not more than a day of looking at my To Do items to determine that I was unhappy with how my time was allocated. It's so much easier to address an issue if you take a moment to gather a few facts.

Putting yourself at the top of the priority list is good. Making changes and taking action to reinforce it is better. Learning how to do it over and over again until it becomes part of who you are is best.


Stephanie Says:

I think that's a trap that a lot of women fall into-- in the healthcare fields, you see especially see it in the sandwich generation taking care of kids and parents. Caregiver burn-out... definitely make sure you meet your basic needs.

Small steps help, though. I don't have kids; even without them, I have to make a list of basic goals like yoga or stretching 3-4 times a week. If I don't write it down, it doesn't happen.

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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!