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  • Writer's pictureReflective Resources

P is for Priorities

A priority is something that is regarded as more important than other things.

We all need to prioritise things in our lives. It is not possible to go 100% with the flow or do things when you fancy it because in real life there are always deadlines and things that are time sensitive.

Priorities help us organise our lives, develop better habits and thereby create effective routines that allow us to maximise the time we have and open ourselves up to more opportunities whilst having the secure knowledge that the basics are covered.

In an age of uncertainty with change occurring daily, it can cause us to become reactive to the chaos around us, but when we simplify and consciously pare life back to the essential and create good habits it is easier to avoid succumbing to stress, worry and depression.

Good time management is important – particularly the notion of doing the right thing at the right (kairos) time. Kairos is concerned with the notion of seizing the appropriate time to do something which will affect our future. (Chronos is about measuring time, whilst kairos is about judging its significance.)

As we go through life we begin to appreciate that there is a better or an optimum time for the many and varied activities and experiences in our lives. It is no use trying to force something at the wrong time as we are likely to not do it as well, not have the desired effect and might miss out on other time-sensitive opportunities plus we are not using our time effectively or optimally at that particular moment.

When planning and prioritising, kairos effectively asks you to consider many variables i.e .

Does what I could do align with my values?

I have this opportunity, but is it right for me now, some time in the future or does it not align with my values?

“If you want to make a big difference in this world, you must learn to prioritize and delegate efficiently. Not everything you can do is worth doing. Know this, enjoy peace!” Olawale Daniel

Is the activity time sensitive?

Should I wait to do an activity, or is time of the essence? (What may be appropriate one moment may be irrelevant later )

If we think about it there is usually an optimum time for certain things each day. Eg if we feel centred by having 30 minutes to reflect on/plan our day, read, do some breathing techniques or affirmations etc we are perhaps going to feel their benefit more at the beginning of the day to start our day properly than midway through the day or at the end of it. Another example might be that we wouldn’t choose to exercise immediately after we have eaten.

There is a difference between being busy and being productive. Being busy can often mean filling our time running around and feeling over-stretched yet achieving little despite our best intentions . Being productive is more concerned with kairos; how we use time and having something to show for our efforts. I’m sure that many of us have found ourselves looking back over our day feeling exhausted but having the impression that although we have been extremely busy and have tried to accomplish a lot, we are still not feeling particularly productive and have little to show for our efforts. This is where prioritising comes in

“We have become a nation of thoughtless rushers, intent on doing before thinking, and hoping what we do magically works out. If it doesn’t, we rush to do something else, something also not well thought-out, and then hope for more magic.” Len Holman

So how do we set priorities or judge what is a priority or not?

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar. ” Victoria Moran

I think that first of all we have to be realistic (honest with ourselves) and set priorities that we are capable of doing because unrealistic goals become counter productive

When setting priorities, there are always certain things that have to be done – be it as basic as eating and drinking or as uninspiring as paying bills, filling and returning forms. Once these type of things are out of the way we are then free to choose how we prioritise the rest of our time (hopefully based primarily on our values. )

“You gotta make it a priority to make your priorities a priority.” Richie Norton

The first step might be to work out what is important to you e.g.

If you value relationships – you would e.g. choose to prioritise your time making arrangements to see people, contacting people via phone, email etc

“In a world where the larger majority of society is careless, it’s the small percentage of people who make the choice to be different and prioritize relationships that stand out.” Farshad Asl

If exercise if important you would timetable in regular walks or fitness sessions.

If you are working on a project, you would perhaps prioritise what needs to be done , in what order and by what time

“Prioritize activities under the captions “important” and “urgent”. Do the urgent things first and the important things later.” Israelmore Ayivor

Once you have made a list of priorities then you could order that list in order of importance and create a timetable (that allows for flexibility) to complete the tasks/activities you want to do at the most appropriate time.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey one of the habits he emphasises is the importance of identifying and setting priorities - putting first things first – He talks about prioritising what is most important in your life and working on those items first and introduces introduces the four-square quadrant of urgency and importance as a guide to help determine what is a priority or not.

“Loving yourself is being aware of how you spend your time. Eliminating purposeless daily activities and prioritizing will free up your time in order for you to focus on living in purpose.” Victoria L. White

One priority that should be important for everyone is self- care/love and investing in oneself. Make love a priority - Don't let matters on unimportance blind you to what is important in life.

“At the end of your life's journey, what do you want to say you did with your time? There is enough time if you choose to invest it in yourself. Inch by inch, day by day . . . make yourself a priority.” Jackie Cantoni

Investing in yourself is more about choosing yourself and consciously investing the resources you have; time including 'spare moments', energy, money etc into yourself in the belief that you are worth it. In so doing it will bring about secondary positive changes in your current life and will often lead to greater happiness, a greater sense of self-worth, more understanding about yourself and the world around you, better relationships and perhaps a better understanding of what your purpose is in life is.

“Life is all about priorities. Year after year, day after day, and even minute after minute you have to embrace what is more important and essential for you and not look back. When others don’t understand or admonish you for your choices don’t give it any energy because they are telling you that their wants are more significant than yours.” Carl Henegan

To invest in yourself properly needs action and time not just pipe dreams. Time is limited and what you do with it and how you manage it is critical.

“The idea of balance is a good one, when viewed with two Caveats:

1. Not everything in our lives deserves the same weight. Aim instead for the correct weight.

2. Balance isn't a daily act. Not everything will be given attention every day, and that’s ok.

The difference is in the weight we give things. Keeping the house immaculately clean doesn't need or deserve the same weight (importance) as spending time with our closest people. We know this, but the myth of balance tells us otherwise. We develop a fear of falling too far into unbalance as it is associated with instability and we don't want to be seen as unbalanced and unstable. We can exhaust ourselves by constantly trying to balance things.

"We're never fully in a moment, because we're worried about all the other areas of our lives that aren't getting our attention in that moment. We've turned balance into a constant struggle rather than a long game. Discover long term balance.” Brooke McAlary

You can spend time on useful or useless things, but if you invest your time, you’ll tend to invest it in something that has value and importance for you. By choosing our goals wisely the time we spend on things becomes an investment, not an expense. It’s impossible to save time so the most important aspect of time is its value now and what we are doing with it.

“Are you prepared to put in the time and energy to create change in your life? Are you prepared to make and keep that commitment? If not you, then who (is getting the benefit)? Invest in yourself.” Akiroq Brost

When we reflect on our priorities and convert our reflections into plans, and follow those plans through action, then we are taking steps towards creating a better quality of life for ourselves and we flourish.

People often think about their own quality of life in terms of a good quality of life in a future time period. They work hard in the present aiming to have a good quality of life in the future but unless there is balance this is often at the expense of good quality of life now. We have no guarantee of tomorrow so it is in our best interests to reflect on our core values and prioritise a good quality life experience now over and above any non-guaranteed higher quality of life in a non-certain future.

“We all stand for something. And we would be wise to determine what that ‘something’ is because in time we will become ‘some’ of that ‘thing.” Craig D. Lounsbrough

Our future will be a direct reflection of the decisions we make right now, our actions and our daily habits and the priorities we choose so it is important to be clear in our minds and act decisively rather than drift from one day to the next.

“Make your priorities a priority.” Frank Sonnenberg

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