Are you so crazy busy that the idea of prioritizing feels like just ANOTHER thing to do? Does achieving any sort of passion in your life feel impossible?
Yes, getting your priorities in order does require a little work and focus.
But when your life is chaotic and you’re overloaded and over-scheduled, it’s a sure sign that your priorities are out of whack. And as any skilled life coach would tell you, that’s when you most need to start prioritizing.
Prioritizing Is a Matter of Taking Steps
There are items in your life that must be prioritized such as showing up at your job and caring for your kids or aging parents.
But the messiness of life creates countless other distractions that pull you away from accomplishing even the most minor of tasks. And soon you’re left feeling stressed and depleted. How could you possibly move toward doing what you really want when there are so many other things that must be addressed!?
Well, you zoom out and look at the bigger picture. From there, you can take the following steps:
1. Identify Your Core Values
It’s difficult (if not impossible) to set meaningful priorities if you’re not clear on your core values. So before you take any action, consider the following:
- Are there qualities in yourself and others that you admire?
- What are you doing when you feel your most genuine and authentic yourself?
- At the heart of it, what are the things that really matter to you?
Your core values can involve giving, fitness, spirituality, or whatever moves you. Once you know the reason for doing things, you can more easily form a personal philosophy from which you’re able to make big decisions.
If your list is particularly long and it starts to overwhelm you (which is antithetical!), then narrow it down to the four or five things that matter to you the most.
2. Map Out Your Tasks
If your brain is trying to hold on to all of the big, small, long-term, and immediate tasks that need to be completed, you’re asking a lot of it. So free your brain of that responsibility and write out the tasks on paper or a screen.
Create a list of action items that you need to take care of – whether they’re part of your career, lifestyle, or relationships. Then sort them out based on whether they are daily, weekly, or monthly tasks.
Just the sheer act of listing the tasks clears out some of the chaos in your brain. And you’re also able to see more clearly how much is on your plate and what needs to be addressed first and what can wait.
3. Take On Your “Ugly” Tasks First
To avoid burnout and maintain long-term performance, you next need to make a schedule. This can help you anticipate a hectic day/week/month and get out ahead of it before it snowballs. It can also help you see if you’re trying to tackle too much all at once.
Oh, and forget about multitasking. Only 2.5% of the population can do it successfully. Instead, tackle the most daunting and arduous tasks first while you’re still feeling productive. Putting them off until later will weigh down and you and once you’re tired, you’ll be even less likely to execute them.
4. But Keep Your Core Values In Mind
You don’t want to fill your schedule with so much busyness that you’re robbed of doing any of the activities that bring you pleasure.
When you’re scheduling all the actions you need to accomplish, think about which of them allows for your core values to be accessed. So if you value giving, then make volunteering a priority. Or if fitness is important to you, find a way to incorporate a class, visit to the gym, or even a walk into your schedule.
Try not to see this as drudgery, but rather as a challenge to get creative about incorporating your core values into your daily life.
Keep in mind that the bigger changes you’re seeking will take time and commitment. But even just scheduling 20 minutes per day to work on a creative venture, do yoga and meditate, or have a serious talk with a close friend can become a habit when done consistently. You just have to be sure you set even just that small amount of time each day.
5. Learn to Say No
This is a big one.
Above, we talked about taking on the ‘ugly’ tasks first. But how many of those ugly tasks are absolutely necessary? If you hate weeding the garden, could you find someone else to do it? And do you always have to be the one to drive the kids to their after-school activities or could you set up carpooling? Will the earth come to an end if you don’t drop everything each time your partner needs something?
In order to prioritize – especially the activities that will keep you on your committed course – you must be able to say no. That means that some of the less important tasks on your list may not get completed today. It’s okay. Really.
6. Be Real About What You Can Accomplish
This is the other big one.
Staying busy and stimulated and overworked seems to be the name of the game these days. So many of us have a superhero complex. Yet, all of this busyness is the ultimate kryptonite. When ‘being’ is so constantly superseded by ‘doing’, it’s a recipe for burnout.
The other thing is, there are going to be unexpected situations and challenges that arise. This is just life. So when they do, you need to be able to turn away from the schedule and take a look at what’s really possible.
In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Challenges are fantastic learning opportunities for growth. So just stay on course with your core value priorities and you’ll keep moving forward.
Start Living a More Authentic Life
The above six steps to prioritizing are fairly straightforward. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy.
Having someone in your corner to help you along the path and hold you accountable can make a HUGE difference. And that’s just what a certified life coach can do.
So if you’re ready to embark on the journey to a happier and more genuine self, contact us today to take advantage of our life coaching services. And start prioritizing like a boss!