Techniques for Setting Priorities When It’s Hard to Focus

Techniques for Setting PrioritiesThis time of uncertainty in our personal lives as well is in our communities, states, country and world impacts us in many ways. With so much swirling around us, it can be hard to set priorities.  It’s hard to know what to focus on – we are often really scattered in our thoughts, in what we say, and in what we do. These techniques for setting priorities can help you focus on the things that matter most and increase your satisfaction with your life.

Benefits of Establishing Priorities

 First, let’s review the benefits of establishing priorities.

  1. Simplify decision making. Smart choices seem automatic when you can identify which tasks are urgent and where your efforts will have the most impact. You’ll act deliberately instead of drifting from one dilemma to the next.
  2. Accomplish more. Distinguish between doing more and achieving more. Know what’s most important to you and allocate your resources accordingly. Prioritizing enables you to work more productively and divide your time more effectively.
  3. Reduce stress. Imagine your peace of mind when you stop feeling like you have too little time and too much to do. Accept your limits and take satisfaction in doing your best. Your confidence and peace will keep growing as you enjoy the results of your new sense of direction.

Techniques for Setting Priorities 

Here are eleven techniques that will help you establish priorities. Some you may be using or have used in the past. Some will resonate with you more than others. Some apply more to the specific situations facing you right now. Look at all of them and decide where to start.

  1. Create daily rituals. Keep important commitments on the front burner by carving out a specific time for them each day. For example: Designate the hour before bed for reading stories with your children or learning another language.
  2. Start off strong. Create momentum that will drive you forward all day long. Score a quick win when you go for a morning run or meditate while it’s still quiet.
  3. Disconnect for a while. Limit the time you spend online, making calls, and watching TV. Rediscover face-to-face communications and the beauty of nature. Build some things into your schedule that take you away from the barrage of information.
  4. Take breaks. Downtime restores your ability to concentrate. These are short breaks in the midst of larger tasks to refresh your mind.
  5. Organize your day. Plan your time with your priorities in mind. You’ll be less likely to become sidetracked by external pressures and distractions.
  6. Shorten your to-do list. Weed out nonessential items. Decide which tasks require excellence and which can be considered good enough if you complete them on time. For example, as long as your bed sheets are washed and dried, maybe you can skip ironing them. (LOL – how many people still iron sheets?) But you get the idea.
  7. Estimate value. If you tend to regard everything as being equally important, look closer. Think of your life as a business and ask yourself how profitable each activity is. Playing with your dog may make you happier than going on a shopping spree.
  8.  Use comparisons. Weighing one option against another clarifies their advantages and disadvantages. Going back to school or renovating an old house may both sound appealing, but you’ll have to figure out which one is more worthwhile. Then again, maybe you can tackle both if you figure out which to do first.
  9. Ask for help. We all accomplish more working together. Practice delegating at the office and at home. Divide up complex projects so everyone can draw on their individual strengths.
  10. Map it out. Drawing yourself a picture may help in situations where your priorities are still unclear. Maybe you’ll come away with a fresh perspective on how to invest your retirement savings or which training courses to take during the next year. Mind Maps are so helpful. If you aren’t familiar with this tool, you can learn more here: http://carolbrusegar.com/using-mind-mapping-to-declutter-your-brain/
  11. Write it down. Whether you prefer a digital or a paper journal, putting your priorities into writing will help you stay on track. You’ll be able to monitor your progress and spot any obstacles you need to overcome. It will also make you more accountable. There are so many ways to use journaling to enhance your life. Read more here: http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/

Using techniques for setting priorities will help you direct your energy and attention to activities that align with your goals. Prioritization is a skill that will help you find more time for the things you love. Enjoy a more meaningful life, starting today, by setting priorities!

For lots more on this topic check out Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. It is filled with perspective and specific techniques for making time for what is really important in our lives.

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

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