Setting Priorities

Set your priorities carefully

While everyone is on a different path, we all have goals we want to achieve. Goals are the specific things you want to do within a certain period of time. Because you cannot accomplish everything at the same time, priorities need to be decided as well. Having clear priorities helps us do “first things first” instead of spending too much time on less important things, and then wishing we had done things differently.

You can set your priorities in two ways:

  1. According to urgency: Some things must be done immediately. If you wait too long, it may be too late to do some of these tasks. Examples of urgent tasks: calling the doctor when you or family members are sick, or filling out your income tax or other applications with deadlines.

  2. According to importance: Some tasks must be done before others, while some can wait until a better time comes along. Important tasks could be such things as replacing a tire that has no tread left or taking medicine that the doctor ordered. For long term, important projects, try to focus on one piece of the project at a time.

Remember that urgent matters are usually easy to see; they’re right in front of us and are hard to ignore. Focus on the matter at hand and give it your full attention until it’s been effectively dealt with. 

Some tasks are pleasant, exciting, or fun to do and make us feel happy, while others are challenging, mundane, or might make us uncomfortable in some way. Try to remove your emotional response to the matters at hand and take a practical, strategic approach to working through your tasks.


Priority Setting Activity

Take some time right now to list 5 to 10 things that you need to do this week in your journal. These tasks can extend across work, home and personal responsibilities. Some examples include: pay the rent/mortgage on time, spend time with the children, plan meals and buy groceries, get to the dentist appointment on Friday, check on a bill, fix the storm door, discard old food in your refrigerator, do laundry, return books to the library, or take your kids to their swimming lessons.

As you look at your list, put a star by those tasks that absolutely cannot be ignored. Place a second star (2 stars) by those tasks that need to be started or completed by the end of today. Those items with two stars are your main priorities.

Next, ask yourself if there are any tasks that can be delegated to another family member or roommate. If so, put that person’s name beside the corresponding task. If you start to feel overwhelmed with tasks throughout the week, you know you can ask those people for help getting everything done.

Look at the list at the end of the day and check off the accomplishments you have completed.

Make your list for tomorrow, again indicating which tasks are priorities for that day. Repeat making a new list each day of the week. 

Ask yourself: How are you doing in getting others to help? What is your success in completing tasks?