How to Create Space for Your Priorities

Allie’s* list of priorities seemed straightforward – build her business, start writing her book, and spend more time with family & friends. But as we discussed how she spent her time – it came out that she volunteered 10+ hours a week and served on 3 local committees. No wonder she wasn’t making progress on her priorities! Her schedule was full of other commitments.

Allie loved volunteering, but realized she was doing more than was sustainable given her other priorities.

Interesting, isn’t it? We all have varying degrees of “Allie” in us – we feel trapped in our job, but don’t bother to look for a new one; we love to meditate/ hike/ read, but don’t make time for it; we want to improve our health, but skimp on sleep and eat what’s fast and easy…. the list goes on.

So, I ask you - what are your priorities?

  • List your top 2-3 priorities this year.
  • Next, for 2-3 typical days, write down what you do all day, in 1/2 hour or 1 hour increments. Don’t make any changes yet – just observe and record your normal days.
  • Then put a star next to each activity you did during those days that contributes to one of your priorities.
  • If you have stars for each of your priorities: Congratulations! Your actions are in pretty good sync with your priorities! That is the #1 way to achieve your goals! Keep going in that direction.
  • If you had no stars or want to increase your stars: First, look for places in your schedule where you can eliminate or reduce things that are not supporting your priorities. Next, in those spaces, add in 1 or 2 small steps you can take towards your priorities. It’s that simple: as you take action and make progress, continue to look for ways to increase your alignment with your priorities.
  • For example - Perhaps you substitute ½ hour of reading 3x week, instead of watching the news, or reduce your Facebook or game-playing time to create time to rest or exercise.
  • Writing down the steps you take towards your priorities, and celebrating each small step will support your progress.

Small steps may not seem like much, but they’re a signal to your soul that you care what’s important to it, and that is huge!

Sometimes this process can reveal that what you thought was a priority for you is actually not. That’s great news. Now you don’t have to spend time on that, but can instead focus on what is important to you! Or sometimes, fear masquerades as indifference, procrastination, or distractions, so be honest with yourself – own what’s important to you, and take meaningful, baby steps towards it.

Over the next few months, Allie scaled back her volunteer work and resigned from the 2 committees she didn’t love. Once she created space for her priorities, she joined a business group, organized her office, and signed up for a writing class. She also invited her family and friends to join her for a volunteer project. She’s thrilled to be taking action towards writing her book, and realized how much happier she is focusing her time on what’s most important to her instead of trying to do everything.

*Name and details have been changed to protect client privacy