How to Prioritize Your Time
"Priorities" is this word floating around in my head constantly lately. I'll be going about my own daily business when it slams into the forefront of my mind, causing me to reel around in the shock of it's effect, wondering what went wrong and how I got here. I dread the conviction it causes, but revel in the opportunity it lends to realize a need for change.
Time and energy have not been with me lately. Jordan is going through a phase of sleeplessness and life has not slowed down much since the holidays. That is why I've had to think about priorities more lately. As I've consistently failed at finishing all I had planned to do for the day, I'm realizing there are somethings that I need to focus less on, and some things that need way more attention than I'm giving them. I need to prioritize.
With the new year and all, I bet you have taken a hard look at your priorities too. Have you noticed an imbalance as I have mine? Don't despair, dear friend! There is a way to straighten things out and get life back on the track it was meant to be on. Let's fix our mixed up priorities together using these steps. Click here or the picture below to download your printable.
1. How do you spend your time?
I'm a list person, I never leave the house, start a project, or do much of anything without one. So, I think that's a good place to start. Let's write a list of some of the things that take (or should take) our time, energy, or mental space. Here's mine in no particular order:
These could be the things you actually do, or the things you expend thought or finances towards. Since time has been my issue lately, I'm gearing this towards that, but the worksheet will work either way.
2. Fill in the blanks
When I need something to be black and white, I ask myself concrete questions. If I try to solve something in my head with all my emotions and ditsy blonde-ness getting in the way, my mind becomes a jumble and nothing gets accomplished (Maybe I'm the only one that this happens to). So, for priorities I asked these questions and then answered then for myself.
I feel like I should explain those questions:
1: because if you aren't functioning, then you won't be able to accomplish anything. There are some things, like sleep and Jesus that really need to happen before we go on with our days.
2: Baby Jordan needs me. So, I simply can't put him at the bottom of the list. If something or someone is depending on you to live, be it your goldfish, children, or husband, then they should get a pretty high spot on that list.
3: We need food to survive as a family. Not the most elaborate dishes, but sustenance, none the less. That is my responsibility and thus, must be a priority. Cleaning is another thing that, though we can survive in a little mess, can't really live when hampered by unorganized chaos.
4: Work, family, and social events are examples of obligations. They are high on the "time" priority list, but not so high on the "emotional/mental" list. I give these my time and my best of what's left after higher priorities, but when I'm about to lose my sanity, they don't rule my heart.
5. Time with my husband is very important to me, but, since he isn't around all the time, I don't have to constantly feel like I should be focusing on this aspect of my life. When he is with me, the priorities shift to put him towards the top, so we can have quality in our marriage.
6. Now we get to think about ourselves a little more. I mean, life can't all be about responsibilities. Sometimes we have to do things that we actually like to keep our joy. Maybe those things are productive, like a hobby that brings income, crafts you can do with your kids, or projects to improve your home.
3. Sort them
Now that you have a better idea of your higher and lower priorities, let's put it in writing! Filling in the circles, to me, was liberating. I don't have to stress that I'm not spending all my time blogging, because that is at the end of the list. I can feel good about sitting down to read my Bible, because I know that is what I need to carry through the rest of my life.
Notice that while some are of lesser priority, they are all on the list, which still makes them important. I didn't write "learn to dance" because I'm not even going to attempt it.
4. Schedule and put into action
It's all well and good to say you're going to prioritize something, but if you don't intentionally set the time to do it, it ain't gunna happen. Scheduling when you will address these aspects of your life will help you to focus fully on them at the appropriate times.
I love the thought of priorities, because it's OK to be different. If this was a post on how to schedule out your life, you may be saying, "but I don't have a kid to care for, work to go to, or a blog to write!". It's all about understanding and figuring out what is most important for you to spend time and energy on and living according to that.
I wish you the best of luck, my friend, in deciding what your priorities are and simplifying your life to enjoy them. I know I feel a lot of relief from writing them down, so I can be intentional about focusing on them.