By: Diane Lang
24 hours in a day doesn’t seem like enough. We can feel overwhelmed, stressed out and unbalanced. I know I have felt this way many times and find myself struggling to find some balance in my chaotic life.
I decided to take on the challenge of setting priorities. Setting priorities has been a challenge of mine for a long time but once I had my daughter setting priorities became a necessary.
The journal of truth – Take some time to write in a journal what your life priorities are? This is all the things you are trying to accomplish at this moment? Ex: being a mom, going back to college, working part-time, etc. With each accomplishment write down – why it’s important to you? What you want to accomplish in each one in detail. Then look at the list and prioritize them in importance to you.
Also, for one week keep a journal of your basic needs- are you eating right, exercising, sleeping at least 8 hours, etc. At the end of the week you can see which areas of your life are suffering and which needs can be met. If your basic needs aren’t met, you will always feel unbalanced and stressed out.
To pick out what should be a priority and where it fits on the priority list. Ask yourself these questions.
1. Is there a time limit on the priority? If it needs to be done ASAP due to time, it will work its way to the top of the list.
2. Is it important to you? Why?
3. Is this just filler stuff? We add filler stuff to our list as a procrastination tool. I do this a lot; I put a lot of non-important things on my priority list. I feel busy but I’m never working on what’s really important to me.
Then take each thing you want to accomplish in its order and write down an action plan.
Below are a few tips to help set your priorities.
Learn to say no – one of the biggest reasons we don’t feel balanced and feel overwhelmed is because we say yes when we mean no. Every time we do this we set ourselves up for failure. The minute we say yes, we start the vicious cycle. First we say yes (but mean no) and we become angry at ourselves for saying yes. During the day we become angry and nervous that we won’t be able to complete the task we said yes to. After we finally finish the task and it’s all done we start feeling guilty. We feel guilty for getting angry and upset because it all worked itself out. What we need to realize is that every time we do this we become stressed out and unhappy. The best way to handle this problem is to say NO! It’s hard for some of us to say no but with practice we will feel better. So say NO!
Start with you – we have many roles, we are moms, wives, sisters, husbands, dads, friends, workers, etc. This is a lot of responsibility. For us to handle all these roles we need to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. The best way to do this -make sure all your basic needs are met. Make sure you get enough sleep, drink enough water (this does not include coffee, tea and soda), eat properly and get exercise. Before you say to yourself, you don’t have time. As yourself this question: Do you have time to be sick? If the answer is no then make sure to get your basic needs met. If you’re not healthy how can you take care of others?
Ask for help and delegate- for all you who have perfectionist and controlling personality traits remember that every time you try to do it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s unrealistic to think we can do it all and perfectly. You will always feel unbalanced if you’re trying to do it. Instead ask for help, delegate chores and order out. It’s ok to have pizza or Chinese food once in awhile. Yes, it’s important to eat healthy but it’s also important to be mentally healthy and all of us need a mental break. Order that pizza and then enjoy the quality time with your family and while your at it use paper plates and paper cups for the night. After dinner, you will have time to relax. WOW!! What a concept.
Can/can’t control -one of the best ways people cleared their schedule and got rid of the clutter was to work on what we can change in our lives. Write a list of everything in your life you can’t control. If you can’t control it then it’s time to remove it from your life. Take that list and say good bye to everything on it. We spend a lot of time working on things we can’t control which leaves us very little time to work on what we can. Then write a list of everything you can control and ask yourself: what can I do now? This gives you the action to move forward on your to do list.