The Key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey
Do you ever get to the end of your week and think to yourself, “wow, I didn’t get anything done that I wanted to!”?
Our days fill up quickly with many minor tasks, interruptions, distractions and putting out “fires”. The activities that we most want to get done, don’t. They are sitting there week after week and we beat ourselves up about having them still on the list. We say “I should have done this” or “I shouldn’t have spent so much time on that”. This regret and chaos leads to anxiety, stress, lack of sleep and a general feeling of lack in energy. We’re running on the hamster wheel without knowing where we’re going, or what we’re doing here running.
“So what can I do about this?” You ask.
Practice powerful priorities!
Powerful priorities, healthy priorities, big rocks – are different names for the same concept. This is a concept that has been around for years, and yet many of us aren’t utilizing this tool to create more space in our lives for the activities that matter most.
To get started with powerful priorities, first:
- Recognize what your priorities are. Stephen Covey suggests that life works best when you prioritize in this order:Self, Spouse, Career, Family, Friends. Some of you may be nodding in agreement with this order, and some may be balking at the thought of putting anything before family. The idea is that in order for your life to work, your well-being needs to be taken care of first. With your ‘self’ being happy, healthy and supported, you are now in a space to be spending energy on a partnership with your spouse. This partnership is the foundation for which the rest of the life areas rest on, which is why it is crucial for it to be solid. Career being placed before Family is the area where many people disagree. The intention is not to be working all the time and not being with family. Energy must be spent on obtaining a fulfilling and financially supportive career that can support your family, (and friends/lifestyle). Without a career or income it is a very real, and stressful challenge, to support a family. Friends are last, and are certainly not least.
- Put prioritizing into practice. What order is right for you in your life? What tasks do you have on your to-do list that fall under one of these life areas? Which ones don’t fall under these areas at all? The practice lies in deciding what your priorities are and schedule your life accordingly. As Stephen Covey’s concept outlines: put your ‘big rocks’ (top priorities), in your schedule first. Allow space for the ‘pebbles’ that will fall into place. If you fill up a container with pebbles, there’s no room to place the big rocks in at the end.
- Notice what happens. As you begin scheduling your priorities, what happens? Do you find that you are less stressed? Perhaps you are more stressed as you adjust to this new way of scheduling. Reflecting on what happens as you move through this practice will both enrich the process and give you clues as to where some tasks might be out of alignment with your priorities.
Not sure what your priorities are? Partnering with a Life Coach can assist you to distinguish what your priorities and values are in life. Your coach will hold you accountable to the new way of scheduling you put in place for yourself and will also be there for support when hurdles show up.
I hope you’ve found these tips to be of value and that this practice will create more space, ease and happiness in your life! Please comment below with your experience of scheduling priorities.