W/LB Tip #22: Priorities, Priorities

Setting Priorities as a way to get more balance in life.


Hi all.   As of late, I have to say, I'm supremely unqualified to be giving anyone else tips on work life balance!  


 These tips I've given you?   I'm not following 'em.  My desk is a mess, my inbox overflowing, I'm just off a three week cooking strike (mother's gift to self.  I think that was a tip, actually!).  I'm overcommitted and under-inspired; I run from one thing to the next without time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going; I can't keep up with friends as much as I want to or family outside of my own little nest.  I don't go to the gym, I don't get enough sleep, and I missed my last book club.  Oh, and I don't drink enough water.


So, my tip tonight is what I need to do at the moment, which is prioritize.   It seems so obvious, as I write it, but I think many of us don't actually take the time to plot our priorities out consciously,  or, if we do, to revisit them periodically.  And in some level of detail too.  So, while I have, of course, thought about my priorities in a broad, general sense, I haven't thought about how, given the finite number of hours in the day and days in the week, I should prioritize the things I want to accomplish to feel my time was well spent and divvying up the hours accordingly, cutting out those things that there just aren't time for.  It seems that going through this process would help me in both creating the life I want and being satisfied with the life I'm living, once I can see that, even if I can't do everything, I have chosen to spend my time the way I do.   Am I the last one to realize this?


Now to find the time...


All best,



PSP Work/Life Initiative




I concur that this is an amazing tip!  I too am a poster child for overcommitments - resulting in being completely overwhelmed and sleep deprived.  It appears to be compounded right now with the stress of year-end school activities and organizing summer plans - while trying to keep up with the daily realities of family, work and home.  I wanted to add two suggestions to prioritizing:
First, remember to stay in the present. (Buddhists teach us that those that live in the present are the happiest.)  Easier said than done when we are obsessed with what we haven't done, what we need to do and multi-tasking our way to doing so.   A quick tip to get back to the present is to focus solely on breathing for 3 minutes - counting up and down to 10.  Or on a day like today, take a quick walk around the block and focus solely on your surroundings.
And second, speaking of happiness, the happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin recommends not putting off what takes a minute to complete.  For example, this morning, I spent 15 minutes answering a couple of quick emails, addressing camp health forms to the pediatrician and postponing jury duty on line.  By doing so, you start your day already feeling accomplished!
very best, Anne

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson




I second (fifth?) the THANKS for today's tips.  I'm overwhelmed with being overwhelmed! Who knew that graduating from 5th grade meant there was the need for SOOO many extra activities on top of things such as getting a graduation dress.


My brother the social worker said that there's a task that he makes people do when they are too busy being "in their head." In his case drug addicts hyped out on drugs, but I think it applies to mothers hyped out with too much work.  You have them name things in the room "there's a portrait of my daughter when she was 3," (without reminiscing about her being 3), "I'm sitting in my chair," "the cat is on the bed," etc.  It helps ground the in the present.  Actually, he said that his patients weren't allowed to be untied from their constraints (he has dealt with some extreme cases) until they could name 10 things in the room to prove that they weren't still "tripping."


So there ya go-- if you're overwhelmed and "tripping", ground yourself in naming 10 things in the room (and try not to focus on the "there's that package I need to mail" things or you'll continue to get overwhelmed!)


Here's the link to the "Do Nothing for 2 minutes" website:





Isn't funny how prioritizing can SEEM so obvious, but somehow we forget to do it? For myself, I've learned the (very) hard way how important it is to set goals and priorities every single day. The good news is that you'll see a huge shift in your level of both productivity and ease when you do. I've written a bunch of blog posts on this topic, which might be of use:






Also, it's one thing to get clear on your priorities, but it's a whole other story to actually STICK to your priorities and the schedule you've set for yourself. I find that if you've got trouble sticking with this, chances are good that there's an "inner" issue at play for you around setting healthy and strong boundaries for yourself. The boundaries piece can be a total doozie because it often has to do with pleasing others.


Have a great weekend everyone! Joanna



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