Prioritizing Your Priorities

With each passing year, my duties and responsibilities grow. Making my priorities a priority is an increasing challenge. And trying to accomplish it all, within the finite hours given to us each day, is a battle fought regularly in the larger war known as life balance.

It wasn’t until I read a work life balance article by the CEO of a tech company that I began implementing the techniques below to prioritize my life and relationships in an effective matter. Work will always be there. So take note that it is not included a lot in the discussion.

This is about how we ensure and secure time for what we’ll actually think the most about and value when looking back over our lives.


Steps to Prioritizing your Relationships

Create a list

If you are like me, a to-do list queen, then making a list is a daily habit. But this list is a little different. This list should capture your priorities and in their order. The first list should only focus on relationships. Who are the most important people in your life. The relationships that need to be tended and watered and nurtured.

Here’s a summary of my list.

Relationships
1. God
2. Husband
3. Me
4. Parents / Family
5. Best Friends

Don’t skip the DETAILS

The list above is a generalization. My real list and your real list should have the names of the people you are referring to and listed by priority. And again these are the MOST important relationships. We’re busy women so do not set yourself up for failure by creating a list that causes anxiety just by looking at it.

I also like to make a secondary list. I focus the most time on relationships but when I can I also include a few of my to-do items. I keep this list very short. Really they are segments of #3. Doing something for me.

Non-People Related
1. Writing (i.e. insert your hobby)
2. Workout

Does your calendar reflect your priorities

Pull out your calendar, planner, or scheduler for the week. Does your calendar reflect your priorities? Are your priorities even a part of your calendar? We are so focused on our to-do lists or work related meetings but you should be applying the same techniques to your “relationship priority” list.

A few months ago I looked at my weekly calendar and evaluated whether or not my schedule reflected my priorities. Were there too many evening association meetings that affected my time with my spouse? Had I built in time with God if I claimed Him to be number 1 on my list? When I looked…there was almost nothing scheduled during my week that captured and allocated my time according to my priorities.

The next step is to adjust your schedule so that it visually reflects your priorities. Below is an example week in which I noted each day what I would do that would help me to nurture the relationships important to me. These activities are highlighted in yellow. {click on image for a slightly larger view}

calendar priorities

 

Consolidate

After identifying your priorities and analyzing your schedule. Determine if there are ways to consolidate your priorities. This is you trying to find a two for one special.

If you look at the calendar above, an example of this is shopping with my mom on Saturday. Shopping for clothes definitely is a taking care of me activity. By inviting my mom along I’ve now made the same amount of time work for me twice.

Here’s another example:

Having worked through the winter holidays, the first week of January I decided that I needed me time. I settled on a visit to a nearby sauna. Again, to make my limited time work for me, I invited my close friend to join me. I planned to arrive an hour before her so I could do some writing … are you keeping count? This could be a three for 1 deal!

However, after paying to enter the sauna real life clocked-in when I glanced at my emails. I had an emergency revision to one of my client projects that needed to be completed within the hour! I ended up spending my allocated and highly anticipated hour of writing time working in the corner of the sauna until my friend arrived.

I met my deadline but my plans were thrown off a bit. I only share this to say that I do not and you should not expect your prioritization plans to always go off without a hitch. That night I had to revisit my calendar and carve out new time to write. To make it work I had to get up a little earlier than usual.


Action Plan

1. Create your list of priorities (keep it reasonable)
2. Open your calendar for the week and schedule time for each priority appropriately
3. Identify activities that can be consolidated
4. Execute. And because life doesn’t always go as planned, rework the calendar as needed throughout the week.
5. After the week is over; prepare for the next week. (This is a Sunday afternoon routine for me)

Notes:

  • Only do a week at a time because life is ever changing and you need to allow for flexibility.
  • This is where journaling is important. It can help you stay accountable and focused.

 

~To nurtured relationships and priorities taking priority,

Nicole Selena