One of my ongoing battles in life is setting priorities.
I think this is a natural thing for writers to struggle with. If you’re a writer, you’re creative (at least a little bit). And that means you have multiple interests and passions — I think that’s been true for just about every writer I’ve met.
Work as a writer long enough and you’ll create a long list of possibilities. Projects you could be taking on. Marketing systems you want to try. Causes you wish to volunteer for. Projects around the house. Things you want to learn.
Eventually it adds up to an impossible list to tackle. So then you go out seeking advice on how to get it all done. When you do…
You’ll hear to limit your to-do list to six or seven things a day…
… and to do your most important thing first in the day… or your most uncomfortable thing.
You’ll hear to tackle all your important tasks before you dig into your urgent tasks…
… or to dedicate the first hour of your day to your business or your dream project.
You’ll hear to schedule appointments with yourself to work on your personal projects.
And all of these strategies have merit. They all work. But they all still demand that you choose to make something important and that you let other things go or put them on the shelf to address later. And that can be painful.
So, if you’re trying to get in a daily workout, meet all your client deadlines, work on a novel, launch a new website, and spend time with your family… not to mention take care of chores around the house, make sure the dog gets a daily walk, and get a little reading in because, darn it, you deserve to relax sometimes… and don’t forget about the time you want to spend with friends or playing the piano or volunteering… it’s just no fun when you realize you can’t fit it all in, and what on earth are you supposed to give up?
When you start to feel overwhelmed with the number of things that are important to you, I find that it helps to acknowledge, out loud, their relative priority.
You may say something like, “My family is most important… I will make time to spend with them each evening and plan something fun to do with them each weekend.”
Then grab your next thing, “Working out is not as important as spending time with my family, but it is still important. It helps me be healthy so I can enjoy my family more. At a minimum, I will work out five times a week. I will schedule those workouts as appointments and I won’t miss them.”
Then you grab the next thing. “Meeting client deadlines is very important… not as important as spending time with my family, but important enough, that I am willing to shift one workout a week if I need to.”
And so on and so forth through the list. Acknowledging your priorities out loud is one way to honestly look at all the good things you want to do and then feel good about what you’re making time for and how much time you’re setting aside for each of the important things in your life.
It also gives you a way to make time for everything — even if it’s just a little time each week — and to be more accepting of what you have available to give to each of your priorities.
I would love to hear the approach you take to sifting through multiple high priorities. Share in the comments below.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!