Priorities have been on my mind ever since I spoke to Jide Olatunbode on The Ultrapreneur Interview (if you missed that, you can find it here), so much so I decided to share my thoughts and reflections on the subject.
Let me ask you a quick question: What are your top 3 priorities, in life?
My guess is your answer reads like: My relationship with my God, my family, and my health! Hmm hmm… I gotcha, right? For most people these 3 seem about right for topmost 3.
But, this is really blah blah blah….story for the gods! May I please announce to you that your priorities are not what you say they are? Nothing is hardly ever what you say it is. There’s always a great answer and a real answer to every question.
I am not an #ominiknowest (lol), but I know.
Let’s explore the definition of priority….
- the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others.
- something given special or prior attention.
- the right to take precedence in obtaining supplies, services, etc., as during a shortage.
All three definitions tell us what priority means, but I especially love the last one because it talks about the allocation of resources. In other words, if you want to know what your priorities truly are, check how you allocate your key resources – talk is cheap! There are two key resources that are capable of showing you what your priorities are – your time, and your money. Show me how you spend your time and how you spend your money and I will show you what your priorities are! Gbam! Lol…
May I suggest that you log these two things over the next two weeks without consciously making any changes?
Not surprisingly, you may come up with things like being on top of all the goings on instagram and facebook (whether they add any value to you or not), just chilling with your guys, or your baes (as the case may be), sleep (hehehehe), having long telephone conversations or chats with people you don’t really care about….and so on!
Now, no one will willingly own up to any of these as a priority, simply because they just don’t seem to sound right.
Our priorities ought to be more meaningful, and should be contributing in one way or the other to the future we desire. But it is what it is. Where you put your resources is where your priorities are. If you dream of a happy & harmonious family, financial independence, heightened spirituality, aging graciously and healthily, and all those other fancy things we all admire and desire in our innermost being, then you must begin to prioritise corresponding actions in the short and medium term, so they can manifest eventually.
Here are a few tips to start you on your way:
- Think it through and make a list – As always, thinking through is golden. Schedule 15 minutes of your best thinking time and think through what your top priorities really are (or should be). Top 5 – 7 seems like a great number that’ll cover everything reasonably. Just let it flow at the beginning. Connect with your inner self and write it all out. You can then consolidate and prune down to about 5-7, making sure you cover all the broad categories. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of making everything a priority. Not every nice sounding thing needs to be a priority.
- Log how you spend your money and your time over the next two weeks – I already spoke about how the spending of your time and money are the most potent factors in determining what your priorities truly are, so do yourself a favour and do this exercise, a few minutes before going to sleep everyday is all it’d take. Make notes on a notepad or on your phone for convenience. Review your log after two weeks and see if it aligns with your initial list of what you think your priorities ought to be.
- Start to put your money where your mouth is – If you turn out the not so surprising result that there is little or no alignment between what you say your priorities are and what they truly are. Simply make a commitment and start to take action to change that.
Two things have worked for me here – compartmentalization, and to-do lists.
I find that scheduling blocks of time to attend to tasks in each priority area helps me put some structure in my life. So, for example you may have blocks of time for ‘office work’, ‘creative work’, ‘me work’, ‘fitness’ so that everything gets some attention. Of course the other question is when it’s time for office work which do I do first – that’s where to-do lists come into play, and you can make your to-do list even more effective by indicating the level of urgency/ importance of each task, and tackling them accordingly (story for another day).
And it’s same with money. Whatever you say your priority is, you should consciously commit a certain percentage of your income towards it, as a means of deploying energy and resources for it to manifest.
- Get good at saying no! Hol’up, hol’up…This right here is a life saver. Learn how to say no nicely and graciously. Except something urgent and life threatening comes up, you really should say no to everything that is not on your to-do list, or at least park them for after you get through the list. Or else, you will keep falling behind and keep playing catch up, and may eventually burn out, and give up, you get what I mean?
- Don’t expect to be perfect all the time. When it does happen that you fall behind, as it is bound to happen every once in a while, please cut yourself some slack, you’re not a robot. It’s a great idea to just laugh it off and recommit. What matters is that you keep making progress, that you consistently keep taking action in the direction of your dreams. However, if this keeps happening over and over, and you don’t seem to care anymore, then it’s time for a review. Maybe your priorities have changed. And that’s totally fine. Just make sure you are intentional about how you deploy your resources, and you do it in tandem with your priorities.
- Review often. You should keep your priority list handy and look at it often. I look at mine several times a week. The plan really is to look at it every morning before I start my day, just as a reminder. This exercise of frequently looking at my priority list alone has already started yielding massive dividends, in terms of taking more actions in line with my priorities (and seeing corresponding results), and it gives me peace when I calmly say NO (hehehehe). Also, it makes it quite obvious, whether you’re still in alignment or not, and you can easily make any required changes.
And there you have it! Now do prioritize intentionally and get more done!
And don’t forget to share! Sharing is caring!