Prioritize is not a dirty word. Even though it often makes you cringe to hear it. (It sounds so proper and oppressive.) Actually, getting your priorities straight can help you live a calmer, in control, more fulfilled life.
Being a mom, wife, business owner, author, runner, pr agent, blogger, homeowner, gardener, therapist, friend, facilitator, and yogi, takes up lots of “now” and we long for a calmer, in control, more fulfilled life.
Like so many others of my generation, I have chosen a busy life. And, while I wouldn’t trade it for the world, we also need to do some major time finagling to keep all the balls – our priorities – in the air. (And, stay conscious with them.)
Get Your Priorities Straight!
I have two tricks up my proverbial sleeve:
- Eliminate time wasters
- Feel empowered by choice
Do these two and your priorities will seem less like a chore and more like A FLOW.
1. Eliminate time wasters
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with too much to do, paralyzed because you don’t know where to start, and then guilty because you feel you haven’t accomplished what you’d hoped for after stressing about it all day?
Now, I 86 the worrying. Worrying is like doing the tasks over and over. I’ve done the task a million times in my head before I actually got to work, wringing my hands about how awfully tedious it would be, and whining to myself how badly I wished for magic elves to come and do it for me. By the end of all this bellyaching, I would be too tired, and have run out of time, to get the enterprise accomplished. Then, I’d berate myself for being a total failure. (I am sure this has never happened to any of you.)
Worry is like a ball and chain when you are running a race. It exponentially slows you down. It’s true, time is relative.
We still think of time in its linear sense. Linear time is not only limited (there never seems to be enough of it), but it is also limiting (of other possibilities). We feel like it rushes on and on without our consent. Believing we have no effect on time harbors our attempts to shift it in our favor. “I have no time!” becomes our most abject excuse to avoid change.
Webster’s Dictionary has ten definitions of time, but my favorite is: “The duration of one’s life; the hours and days which a person has at his [or her] disposal.” I appreciate this description since it makes the distinction that we are an agent in life, rather than just a passive recipient of it. It means that we can bend time to our will, instead of being a helpless victim to its constant ticking away.
2. Feel empowered by choice of which are YOUR priorities
Stop saying, “There is not enough time!” I used to lament that there wasn’t enough time, and inevitably my plans were thwarted and tasks became more time-consuming. Now I say,
There is more than enough time for everything you want to do.
I’ll say it again in case you didn’t hear me.
There is more than enough time for everything you want to do.
Really? This is impossible. We have finite physical capabilities, our body cannot go on forever like the energizer bunny. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we physically depend on rest to keep going. How can we do everything?
Time can be bent around space and matter. (Remember Einstein?) Even though many of the things we do on a daily basis, (i.e., feed the kids, brush our hair) feel necessary, they are, in fact, choices. When we reject the alternative as intolerable, the option we chose seems like it is not a choice. But it was. We are essentially prioritizing.
If we already have the skills to pick our priorities, what would happen if we prioritized consciously?
If we prioritize fluidly and consciously, (without the time-hogs of judgment and worry), we can accomplish everything we want with time left over for joy. Without judgment and worry the tasks are joyful.
This is what I aim for, and sometimes reach on my best days. Do as I say, not as I do…
1. Make lists
The easiest thing to bring awareness into our tasks is to see them in print. Bonuses: a) forgetting-worry disappears b) cross-it-out-joy abounds c) our funny partners can add outrageous items to keep us real.
2. Get started early
A day begun lazily, is hard to turn around. Start to do’s in the morning. If you plan to sit quietly with coffee, relax, or chit chat with family-this is not lazy-do it consciously and enjoy every minute of it.
3. Do harder things first
This lifts the weight off of these pesky tasks, and gives you a boost of confidence to the next thing. Intertwine them with some quick, easy tasks so that you can feel accomplished. Being productive breeds productivity, since it feels so good to be done with something, it gives us energy for the next thing. You may have to cut back on TV or Words With Friends. (Me, included).
4. Set boundaries
And be flexible within them. My priorities are always changing from moment to moment. Choosing one endeavor means saying no everything else. Saying no is rad.
5. Do tasks in increments
Just start. Do one little thing, anything and it will give you a boost for the next thing. I am serious, being a little bit productive is like drinking a energy drink. Don’t just believe me, try it. (All the cool kids are doing it.) I try to begin tasks without too much thought. (Oh, I think a little. The whole “Measure twice, cut once” thing is prudent.) What I avoid is talk-my-self-out-of-it thinking, which takes tons of time and energy. Also, I get all my supplies together ahead of time–while I am already out and about–so when I am ready for the project, I can simply dive in. When you slip in a little work here and there, before you know it the job is done.
6. Let go of perfection
Expectations of perfection sucks more time out of the day than anything else. It causes undue anxiety. It bears repeating: Let go of perfection! If you can do something 95% perfect in one hour, and 100% perfect in 6 hours, spend the 5 hours doing something fun instead.
Work is so much better and faster when you have help. Stop wondering if you are worth asking other for help. People love to feel useful. They would love to help you. Trust them, it saves you loads of time!