Prioritizing Your Priorities
“Nobody’s life is ever all balanced. It’s a conscious decision to choose your priorities every day.” ~Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Visualize this setting with me. There is a large jar and several large oddly shaped rocks. You pick up the rocks and place them into the jar until no more of those rocks can fit. Is the jar full?
Next, you pull out a bag of tiny pebbles and place them in the jar until no more pebbles can fit in the jar. Is the jar full?
Next, you pull out a bag of sand and pour that into the jar until it can’t hold any more sand. Now is the jar full?
Lastly, you pull out a jug of water and pour the water into the jar until it spills over the brim. The jar is finally full.
Okay, now retry this exercise but start with the sand, then the pebbles, then the water, then finally the rocks. As you can see, by the time you get to the rocks, there is no more space in the jar for them now. Ultimately, by not putting the large rocks in first, you are not able to fit them in at all.
I was recently reminded of this often-used live exercise in a daily devotional that I read called Legacy Minded Men. The devotional followed the aforementioned exercise that I adjusted above with a very important point, “We often lose in the areas that matter most because our time and energy are consumed on the little things.”
In other words, by focusing on too much at once, we can lose focus on everything that really matters.
This point is one that many “do-it-all” entrepreneurs and professionals seem to forget. We tend to try and pack as many things into every 24 hours that we can, thinking this is the road to success. In reality, though, it is oftentimes more beneficial to focus on the “large rocks” first. While the rocks, pebbles, sand, and water may all be priorities, we need to prioritize those priorities to make sure that we are hitting the things that matter the most. For me, my priorities are faith, health, family, my relationship, work, business, close friends, networking, learning, and social/fun. The first four are my large rocks that always gets put in the jar first. The remaining priorities are then prioritized depending on the day and the attention needed/desired on them. This approach helps guide my tasks and keeps a healthy balance to prevent burn out.
If you are looking to maximize the hours in your day and prioritize how you balance your life, check out these quick tips below.
1. Make a list of your top 10 priorities
What are the things that you need/want to give attention to every week?
2. Break your list into tiers
Which 3 or 4 items do you need/want to give attention to every day?
3. Set a weekly schedule
List activities/events that will fulfill each of the 10 priorities. Space out the second tier so that you can give each one the needed attention.