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The Benefits of Prioritizing Your Life

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By Sherrie Le Masurier

Are you overworked, overscheduled and overwhelmed? Do you feel like your life is in a constant state of upheaval? If so, don’t give up hope – things CAN improve.

By prioritizing your life (and by simplifying it) you free up time to enjoy the people and things that are important to you. Everyone benefits – especially you.

Accept the fact you can’t squeeze any more into your day

Now I’m not talking about out and out sacrifice here or even time management (we’ll get to that later) what I’m talking about is once and for all accepting the fact that you CAN’T squeeze any more into your day. And, being okay with that.

Take an honest look at what you want to accomplish, let go of the rest

It’s all about taking an honest look at what you want to accomplish in your life and letting go of the rest. It’s also understanding that no matter what you do, there are still only 24 hours in day.

Look at things head on and break things down

Now, let’s look at things head on and see the situation for what it is. Everyday we have a fresh batch of time at our disposal – a whole 24 hours of it. Only by breaking it down, can we can really see what we truly dealing with. We have to sleep and on average most of us require eight hours of shut eye a day. Suddenly our 24 hours are now 16.

For those of us who have a job, we typically spend eight hours a day at it, with an hour for lunch, an hour in commute, and say another hour just getting ready in the morning.  (Okay, so maybe you don’t take a full hour – but once you shower, dress, chug down that morning cup of Joe, grab some of toast and search for your keys – admit it, it comes close.)

Now we’re down to five hours a day. For others who regularly work overtime or have long commutes those remaining hours could realistically be scaled down to four or even three. But for all intent and purposes, let’s just say we have five hours left after we factor in our sleep and job related time.

How do you spend your day?

So, how do spend YOUR five hours a day or less? If you’re like most of us, you fill the rest of your day by cooking, cleaning, paying bills, during laundry, helping with homework, chauffeuring your kids, running errands and volunteering. So where does  personal down time or quality ‘family time’ come into play?

What are you going to give up?

Something has got to give. Running at this speed and trying to squeeze just one more extra curricular activity or ‘must do’ is impossible – even for Martha Stewart. Don’t forget even Martha had a whole corporation of designers, stylists and business people behind her ‘perfect’ image.

Make a list of your priorities

So what do you do? First of all, since you can’t manage what you don’t have – you have to prioritize.

Let’s be philosophical for a moment, forget about limitations and make of list of your  priorities. Look at the big picture – religion, family, health, work etc. Now list everything in order of personal importance.

Do a reality check and list all your daily activities – be honest!

Once that’s done, do a reality check. List all your activities in a typical day. Give some thought to how much time you spend on each. When it comes to how much TV you watch – be honest.

Compare your two lists

Now compare your two lists – your priorities and your daily activities. Most of us rank family near the top of our priority list but in reality, our time and attention is spent not on our loved ones but on everything else.

Since it’s unrealistic to cut back on sleep or quit our jobs, we have to find a way to align our days with our priorities.

Keep your eye on the prize

The best way I’ve found to do this is to keep my eye on the prize (the prize being my top priorities) and do my best to stay focused. When it comes to accomplishing your goals, there is little time for being side tracked.

Fine tune what is most important

Now make a third and final list that fine tunes what you want. Maybe it’s spending more one-on-one time with your spouse, enjoying quality time with the kids or exploring your own passions. Make two copies of this list, one for your purse or wallet and one for the fridge.

Do yourself a favor by making a solid attempt to spend the bulk of your time on things that top your priority list and considerably less time on things that don’t really matter.

Recognizing that some things (like a spotless house) just aren’t important, is one of the first steps to achieving the life and the balance you desire.

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