Have you ever struggled to find the time for certain things? Most of the time you don’t need better time management, you need better priority management. If you know what is important in your life, you will be able to make the time for these things. You might say now, that this is so much harder than it sounds, yet it is much easier than commonly perceived. I needed to find that out for myself and I hope I can give you a head-start by telling you how it finally worked out for me.
If you feel in total control of your life and the way you live it, then you can probably skip this article, but if you, like me, don’t want to have another year end with the pondering question why we’re stuck in the same place yet again, then you need to figure out your priorities and make changes. Having your priorities in check enables you to finally put them first and get ahead.
„Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“ (falsely attributed to Albert Einstein)
If you change your mental attitude and change your actions in the process, you will be able to follow the path you have chosen for yourself.
1. Look at your current time usage
The first step is analyzing where your time goes. I’m sure you have a lot on your plate, a job, children, maybe you need to take care of your parents or you’re still loaded with school work. Though I’m sure that you’ll find other time slots that you use for watching TV or surfing the internet, scrolling through Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or whatnot. Whatever it is, write it down. The latter activities are obviously the ones that you can easily swap with doing stuff that actually matters for you.
2. Make a list of all things important to you
Next, take the time to think about what you value and treasure in your life, be it certain people or activities. Figure out what is important in your life, your whole life, not only some isolated project you want to realize. If exercise is important to you, then you need to write it down. If you don’t prioritize it, because you think you’ll find some time without focusing on it, then you’re either a unique genius or you won’t actually do it.
The easiest way I found is to take a blank sheet of paper and scribble down everything that you can think of. Here is an unsorted list of some of my own things:
my business / job
playing the cello
a cozy home
writing a book
making a change in the world
3. Put them into categories
After putting everything on paper I took some colored pencils and searched for categories. Sometimes different activities can be done with the same outcome, like meditating and taking walks in nature or me-time. All of these actions would lead to me feeling recharched and connected to myself and my environment. Therefore they belong in a category of their own.
The people in my life form a category as well as everything creative like drawing, painting and playing the cello. I also put together a spiritual category consisting of meditation, walking in nature, reading and me time. Finally there is my business with the wish to make a change and the urge to write a book. Which leaves us with the categories
As you can see I didn’t put writing into my creativity category, even though it is a highly creative process for me. But the desired outcome is different. While the creativity category is a way to recharge and let my creative juices flow, writing is a different project, because I want to publish a book.
Do this now for yourself. Search for related things or rather related outcomes and put them in one category.
Now that you have your categories you can go ahead and prioritize those. I wanted to put my relationships on top of everything, because without them there is no meaning in anything for me. Next comes my business, followed by spirituality, creativity and writing.
Your list will probably be entirely different and that is totally fine. My priorities are my own and yours are yours.
Why do we form categories, you might ask? As you can see, the list of things that are important to me and that I want to do is long and this is not even the full list. Forming categories with things that yield a similar outcome minimizes your focus and makes it easier to get going.
5. Act accordingly
When you know what’s important to you, you can act accordingly. Once I know that my family is the most important part of my life, I’ll make sure that my business doesn’t take over. If there is an emergency, I’ll drop everything and go there. I also know that creativity and spirituality are precious to me, but tend to be ignored during my daily routine. So I schedule some time each day for recharching my batteries and I also take at least two hours each weak to do something creative. I skip watching movies and using most of my social media time for that.
6. Tweak your environment to your needs
Sometimes you may need to make adjustments. For example with a newborn child, you’ll find it much harder to take time for yourself. Maybe you realize that your baby is your priority number one and it’s fine that way. Or your need to change something. Be creative and search for solutions. Maybe your spouse can take care of the baby in the evenings or you can ask your parents to look after the little one for an hour or two. Having someone else come and watch after your baby could be an alternative too or you can use its nap time to get something done according to your priorities, be it reading or napping or working on some kind of project.
If there is a will, there is a way. Find it. Make it.
I could go on forever about this topic, but to keep this already long article from exploding, I’ll finish here for now. Have you tried this method of prioritizing your whole life? Did it work for you? What problems did you face? Do you need additional information?
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