What Are My Priorities?

2020 is coming and so naturally, instead of doing any kind of actual work, I focused all my efforts this morning on the incredibly important task of Google searching THE BEST 2020 wall calendar I could find. It is here, in case you were wondering.

Nearly 45 minutes later, my crippling anxiety kicks in when I find myself asking myself, Self, what are we even doing? How did we get on page 35 of searching ‘cool desk 2020 calendars’? What about ALL THE OTHER WORK WE HAVE TO DO? Do you guys ever do that thing where you have so much to do that you literally do… nothing of value? This destructive headspace where everything has become a priority and you don’t even know where to begin and thus, you’re paralyzed to any kind of action? Deep breath. We’ll get through this together.

Let’s begin by closing out all the tabs in your brain (and on your computer screen) and joining me in proverbially starting anew with our massive never-ending to-do list. Yes, I am suggesting you stop multitasking. Stop trying to do it all. Allow yourself to take action on just ONE THING. Why?

Because the reason you’re frozen to any kind of action is because you are trying to do it all. You can’t prioritize anything because you are prioritizing everything. So the first strategy is just to start doing SOMETHING. Typically, once you take action, you gain clarity on next steps. Need a guide to get started? Check out the free Focus Keeper app which uses the Pomodoro Principle of 20 minutes focusing on one task and then five minutes of free space to unwind. I’m a huge fan of this app as a way to stay focused on something long enough to get the task done.

Likely, as with many of my clients, this is a recurring issue for you. If that’s the case, a value assessment is a crucial next step in determining what priorities you need to make both in your personal life and your career. It’s not enough to focus on just one thing at a time, if that ‘thing’ isn’t making you feel good. A value assessment will help you keep your priorities top of mind when your to-do list is weighing down and paralyzing you. Start by writing down everything that’s important to you in terms of value such as honesty, integrity, beauty, family, friends etc. (You can find a great list here). Ideally, you’ll circle your top 3 but a top 3-5 is ok as well.

Once you’ve established what's most important to you, use these core values as a filter for everything that you do. This extends beyond your daily to-do list. These values should be the backbone of every decision you make, whether that be who you want to hire, if something is right for your business, making a career move and so on and so forth. If you stay in line with these priorities, you’ll start to recognize that when you sacrifice them, that’s when you don’t feel good about your decisions and you can make sure you are still holding true to to them by focusing on one thing at a time.

A classic example of this is valuing family and hard work. If you don’t make time for both individually, and attempt to do both at once, neither will feel satisfactory. You’re trying to squeeze all your values at the same moment. Family and work can coexist, you just have to schedule one at one time. Schedule out a family night and a work day. Make each a priority at the time you’ve set. Scheduling out this time on a calendar will help you focus on making each a separate priority. Using the value assessment in coordination with the one thing at a time approach will help your brain focus and gain certainty in your decisions.

And you know what happens when you do that?

YOU RELAX. So chill out boss, you got this.

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