“Quotes in Action” – Day 24

Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities. ~ Tim Ferriss

Today is Monday. Do you have a busy week ahead? Sometimes we have so much to do that we don’t even know where to begin. Other times, we have so much time that we fritter it away and end up failing to accomplish even the few things we had on our list. Today’s quote challenges us to focus not on the amount of time we have, but on how we choose to use it: “Lack of time is actually lack of priorities. ~ Tim Ferriss.

The choices we make, both with our time and possessions, reflect our true priorities. How we spend our time is the proverbial “proof in the pudding.” Of course, we all have obligations that we must fulfill, but how we use our free time is quite revealing. For instance,

  • If we tell our children that it is important to read, but we rarely sit down with a book, is reading truly a priority?
  • If we talk about the value of exercise, but rarely workout, do we honestly believe that exercise will make us feel good?
  • If we want a new job, are we taking steps to find one, or just complaining about the one we have?

The truth is that most of us allocate time for our priorities, we just fail to acknowledge what our true priorities are, such as:

  • comfort
  • familiarity
  • ease
  • relaxation
  • security
  • predictability
  • sleep
  • social interaction
  • solitude
  • food
  • routine
  • financial gain
  • physical release

These are all good things, and we shouldn’t feel bad about them. Nevertheless, it is wise to be aware of what our true priorities are, especially when one is in conflict with another. When this happens, such as when we want to get more sleep, but we also want to get up early and exercise, we need to intentionally rank our priorities. If everything is important, nothing is important. When we fail to set clear priorities for our time, we are likely to gravitate toward whatever is easiest and least demanding.

Today’s challenge is to prioritize your “to do” list. One way is to rank each item in terms of importance, and then begin with whatever you have selected as “#1.” Another approach is to put a “*” next to the top three tasks on your list, and work on these before letting yourself move on to anything else. By focusing on those things that you have mindfully prioritized, you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

Do you ever struggle to set priorities? What will you prioritize most today?

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20 thoughts on ““Quotes in Action” – Day 24”

  1. One of my favorite quotes that relates to what you’re talking about here is from James Clear, ‘Atomic Habits’ author. He said, “Your life is purchased by where you spend your attention.” And it’s just what you’re saying. We might SAY our priority is “x,” but if we’re doing everything but “x,” that suggests a different story. Perhaps it’s our aspirational priority, and not our actual one.

    The good news is all of this begins with awareness. It’s not a lost cause. We can make a shift at any time. It starts with some reflection and then matching our actions to what is most important. I love the straight-forward process you suggest for working a list. I use a star system too. Either an item is starred on a particular day or not. If it’s starred, that IS a priority to attend to that day. However, I’m constantly checking my list to focus and readjust. At times, I will unstar or move a task to another day if something has changed. So I’m intentional, but also give myself flexibility where needed.

    1. I use a system very similar to use. I love when you say, “I’m constantly checking my list to focus and readjust.” I think that really is critical, because life throws things at us that upset our plan all day long. We need to stay nimble, and this is easier when we have mindfully clarified what is most important.

      James Clear is awesome!

  2. I make a ‘to-do’ list every evening. I include errands, appointments, calls and emails that are important to attend to on my list. This way I have an understanding of how much time is available to use for other things. One of the best questions I ask myself is: Is this the best use of my time right now? That question helps keep me on track.
    Diane N Quintana recently posted…Habits Help to Ground Us in Times of StressMy Profile

    1. That’s a terrific question to be asking ourselves, Diane. I will try to ask myself that going forward, and it will also be helpful with clients who are tempted to get sidetracked.

  3. So much so. I had to chuckle at the reading one because Cassidy has read maybe 2-3 books since we got married, and I read ALL THE TIME. The kids make sure to always credit ME for prioritizing reading!
    I’m feeling it heavily with the exercise/job thing in this house.

    1. Isn’t it funny how different we are? My niece one year decided to make it her new year’s resolution to read 1 book during the year. My daughter practically fell off of her chair because she reads about 1 book every 2-3 days LOL! Glad the children are aware of this gift for reading you have. I think children are very perceptive, seeing clearly whether our “talk” matches our “walk.”

  4. Walking has become one of my priorities each day. My husband and I walk about 2.25 miles each day. It has been more difficult to just go out in the morning in winter because of the cold weather. Being outside and walking helps us clear our minds and has become a priority for us. It has become a significant priority that we even talk about the best time for us to walk that day while having breakfast.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Questions To Ask Yourself to Stop Worrying about DeclutteringMy Profile

    1. What a terrific priority, and I love that you are doing it together. I hear you on the weather – this has been a very cold winter! I have seen couples out walking in the 11 degree weather thought, “You go, guys. This is clearly a priority for you!”

      I think you also make a great point that we talk about our priorities with others. It clarifies our own thinking, and it keeps us accountable.

  5. This is so true. When people complain about not having enough time in the day, I’m reminded that we all have 24 hours. True, some people have more money so that they can offload priorities for their results, if not their time (like hiring a personal chef, a housekeeper, a tutor, a gardener). And some people have more obligations; a sick elderly parent or a special-needs child means you have to make new priorities that weren’t originally in the cards. But day-to-day, it’s all about recognizing that it’s where we put our time, energy, focus, and yes, money, that signals what our priorities really are.

    After 20 years in business, I recognize that I *could* do more public speaking, more video, more of just plain more, but my priority at this phase in my life is having less stress. If the trade-off is less “fame” (about which I don’t care at all) or even less funding (about which we all care quite a bit), I’ll take the middle road, with less stress, but also less luxury. But we have to be honest about what we want most. (And yes, if we treat everything like a priority, then we have no priorities. It’s in the definition!)

    1. We all have the right to our own priorities, so we might as well be honest with ourselves about what ours actually are. I couldn’t agree more than some people have more assets at their fingertips, while others are just trying to survive the day. The playing field isn’t level. Nevertheless, acknowledging our priorities, and then aligning whatever time we do have with them, will most likely make us feel more in control and satisfied.

      I could be making more videos too… maybe someday. 🙂

    1. Not every priority is an item on a to-do list either, right? Sometimes it is a priority to just sit down and stare out the window for a few minutes, and that’s ok!

  6. So many great ideas in your post and the comments, Seana! I resonate most with “If everything’s important, nothing’s important.” I can’t have time for everything, and my choices about what to do with my time show me what’s really important to me right now. Being aware of that without judgment is a great way to think about what I want to focus my time and energy on.
    Lucy Kelly recently posted…Slow and steady wins the decluttering and organizing raceMy Profile

    1. Absolutely – without judgment! We all have to make choices with how to spend our time, and most of us want to do what matters most. The secret is to make sure that we align those two things in a way that makes us happy with our choices.

  7. Priorities are easy for me to set. Personal ones help to keep me healthy and happy. Business ones help me to innovate as well as set boundaries. At times I need to give up some priorities temporarily because something very important happens to make changes in the time I have available. I need to learn to be a little more flexible when these changes need to be made and less annoyed.

    1. I can identify with you, Julie, on the need to be more flexible. I love a solid plan, and am likely to bristle when my plans are interrupted. However, I know that being able to pivot when situations change is actually a strength. I’m working on it!

  8. Prioritizing tasks helps me live mindfully! When I don’t take the time to assess what I want to do, I end up doing “filler” tasks, like scrolling through Facebook or watching TV. TV is fine to enjoy, as long as I’m not passively watching it because I don’t know what else to do. Priorities help you find a lot of time you may not know you had in your schedule.

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