A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Discovering the Power of Priorities

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Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”  – Goethe

This year I’ve finally discovered the concept of practical priorities, and it’s changing my life. How I wish I had learned this concept long ago!

I used to waste so much time deciding how to use my free time. For example, I would make long to-do lists for my weekends and, once I checked off a task, I’d spend a disproportionate amount of precious time and mental energy just looking at the list and deciding what to do next. All that decision-making was exhausting!

Priorities to the rescue. In January, as I was recovering from a CFS flare-up, I looked at my life and my habits of stress analytically, and the concept of priorities emerged as a missing piece of my life. So I made very specific lists of my daily and weekly needs and tasks, then sorted the lists into three groupings of priority level.

Since then, I’ve referred to those lists so frequently that I’ve got them memorized, and they are making my life run more smoothly.  I’ve shaped my weekday priority list into daily routines to further reduce the need for decision-making, but I refer to the weekend priority list religiously. I’m gradually developing the habit of saying “no” to my impulses to do things (like start new projects) that aren’t even on the priority list, if I haven’t gotten the list done yet (or at least the higher-priority items). As a result, the most important things are reliably getting done, and my stress is lower because I have what I need.

Here’s my weekend list. Three cheers for self-care!

Priority 1

– Sleep, rest, nutrition, exercise
– Quiet time, relaxation, fun
– Groceries and other essential errands as needed (gas station, pharmacy, ATM)
– Cook/prep food for week
– General straightening up and basic cleaning (kitchen, bathroom, sweep floors, dust, trash)

Priority 2 

– Social time with the regulars (family, close friends) and scheduled social events or appointments
– Any cat medication and/or grooming if needed
– At least one load of laundry (and put it away! I’m bad about that.)
– Work on one area of deep cleaning (another list)

Priority 3

– Correspondence
– Filing
– Hobbies and charity activities
– Other house things, errands, and projects

I hardly ever finish the whole list, but that’s okay; it serves its purpose by giving structure to my decision-making about how to use my free time. Goodness knows I need it!



4 comments on “Discovering the Power of Priorities

  1. jessieadora
    September 9, 2014

    Great idea! Priorities have also been my downfall in previous years…I think I have a handle on them now, but it does take discipline. Lists always help 😀


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      September 9, 2014

      Thanks! I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to keep our most important goals and needs in the front of our minds, and why the impulses of the moment hold so much sway for us!


  2. Nihar Pradhan
    October 28, 2014

    So True…Priority makes a great difference in our living. Time is what defines our life, and resources are always limited and time as a resource is so significant, we usually let it go without realizing how much we have lost…hence if we are able to priorities things in our daily life, it ensures that we organize our life and living in the best possible manner…loved the way you have organized it.


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