Sep 13, 2008

How to Set Priorities in Life & Stay Alive



It can be difficult to be faithful to blogging. I wish I had more commitment to it, but when there are so many competing duties, it becomes a matter of prioritizing one’s life. There are absolute duties, some less than absolute, and some things that fall into the category of desires and wishes.

I’ve had to arrange my duties in the past year and am committed to doing those that are absolute duties, first. Other things move down in the meter of importance. I found there was a host of things that I really, really want to do. And, they are all good things. Then, there are things I really should do...but don’t have to do. If they never get done, well, no big deal, I suppose.

I’ve discovered it is not easy making these judgments.

Here’s a sampling of things that I’ve had to evaluate and prioritize, which includes some things that will “go away,” but are likely to be replaced with a duplicate (listed in no particular order):

  • research for a couple of books I want to write
  • write certain articles for publication
  • get all my medical records (got resistance and only got partial) to evaluate potential claim
  • research some health products
  • plan my withdrawal from “rat poison” (Coumadin)
  • legal research in 3 particular areas (for upcoming cases)
  • update blogs
  • web site maintenance
  • research subscription-only web sites
  • work on long-term study for teaching series at church
  • prepare for trial
  • write brief
  • prepare motion
  • answer discovery
  • answer letters
  • misc “honey-do” jobs in house
  • web research on project
  • get fan belt replaced
  • do book reviews (2)
  • read certain books
  • work on 2 fiction projects started a few years ago
  • visit sick/ailing friends
Now, there are at least another dozen things I could put here, but some are more personal, having to do with family, and some are pretty mundane, and a few are strictly private.

Here’s the order in which I’ve arranged these "duties":
  • prepare for trial
  • prepare motion
  • prepare Trust Amendment
  • answer discovery
  • answer letters
  • visit sick/ailing friends
  • work on long-term study for teaching series at church
  • write brief
  • research some health products
  • plan my withdrawal from “rat poison” (Coumadin)
  • misc “honey-do” jobs in house
  • get fan belt replaced
  • legal research in 3 particular areas (for upcoming cases)
  • update blogs
  • web site maintenance
  • web research on project
  • research for a couple of books I want to write
  • write certain articles for publication
  • work on 2 fiction projects started a few years ago
  • read certain books
  • do book reviews (2)
  • get all my medical records (got resistance and only got partial) to evaluate potential claim (I have another year on this, so it can wait)
All of life is like this for each of us. We all have things we have to do, things we need to do, and things we would like to do. We get into trouble when we get these things out of order and do not learn to prioritize. Some things in life, we simply cannot afford to put off, or minimize in terms of importance. We have to analyze those things for ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.

However, there will be many folks who will try and arrange your schedule for you. They will seek to intrude into your schedule, and sometimes will be successful. Most of us have had people or events that intruded into an otherwise filled schedule.

It’s when that schedule is so full and we’re not able to get to the important and vital things that the stress levels begin to rise. And stress is not good. At this point, we will begin to suffer physically. Many of us can echo the “been there, done that” sentiment on this.

No one else is really able to evaluate your list of “to do” things in terms of importance. Some will try, but they really have no place in making such an evaluation. It’s all right for a friend to make suggestions, and it’s not wrong to sit down with a friend or mentor or someone you trust to help you sort it all out. But, ultimately, you are the one making the decisions.

Here’s a little suggestion:

Since most of us fly this plane called “To Do” by the seat of our pants, at times making decisions at the last minute, it is sometimes helpful to start calendaring your weeks. Seriously consider getting a calendar and writing down the things you must do. List them on a sheet of paper first, then order them in importance. Use a number beside the duties to rank them. Then, use Outlook, or any other calendar program on your computer, or use a regular calendar, and put those items into that calendar in the order of importance. Make sure you look at the calendar. If you're on the web a lot and you use Firefox, try using a little add-on that I've come to appreciate. It's ReminderFox. Use it to remind you of your duties. And then, have a place where you can make a little check-mark when you’ve completed that chore. It will surprise you at the amount of things you actually get done in a week or so. And, it will give you a feeling of accomplishment. There’s nothing like seeing it in black and white (or highlighted yellow, if that’s your thing).

Above all, don’t stress. And don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn to determine what is important. Sometimes, I look at some things and ask myself this question: “What if I never get around to doing it? What are the consequences?”

It really will motivate you to move some things right smack dab to the top of your list.

And some things will fall by the wayside, or drift down to the bottom, waiting for that golden moment of silence in your world, when you have some downtime and are in the mood, and willing to do whatever it is that you’ve put off doing for so long.

copyright 2008 Voyle A. Glover

4 comments:

jenniferw said...

I've got to get busy and write that book, too, Voyle. Time is going. Thanks for reminding me. I do love to blog, though! I find it therapeutic.

Voyle Glover said...

Wish I had more time to blog. At one point, I really thought I could pull it off...but I was dreamin'

Got to stick to doing what I have to do for now and do the other on a "when and if" basis.

But, I do know that somehow we do seem to make time for those things we really, really, love to do. They just sneak right in. (Which is why when I'm done here, I'm going to do a little writing.)

Daniel James Devine said...

Boy, isn't this the truth. I use a planner with weekly pages and write down everything I need to accomplish that week--both because I'll forget and because I might put them off otherwise. A college study, it may have been Harvard, determined that the most successful people were those who wrote down all their goals--and reviewed them daily. I'm always tempted to do what I want first and then what I have to second, instead of the other way around. But I always feel better and more peaceful when I prioritize and accomplish what is important first.

Hope you're doing well. Heard my grandpa won one of your westerns.

Voyle said...

Hey Dan'l

Yeah, grampa won a free copy of Bloody Wes Teague -- but I gotta wonder if it's something he'll ever get around to reading.

I'm doing well. Just don't have enough time to fiddle with this blog thing lately. Thinking about shutting it down and concentrating on other projects (like learning Joomla!)