Identifying my priorities

Lately I've been overwhelmed. This is not unusual for me ever since my heart surgery I've been more aware of it.

I've been reading books lately about goal setting, life planning and task management so today I felt I needed to do a brain dump and figure out what are all my commitments are. Some of these are more broad like Andrea (my wife) or Finances and others are more specific like Madison PHP or a new eStore for John Kovalic.

Note Card Strategy

So writing out all my commitments can be done any number of ways, but I personally find it a little tricky to figure out how to sort them.

If there were only 4-5 commitments not only would I probably not need to be doing this exercise, but sorting would also not really be a big deal.

The list that I came up with had 20 items on it and it was hard looking at a text document to really sort them out so I decided to go with note cards.

I put one commitment on each card then I just took the first two off the stack and figured out which one was more important and put that in front of the other. Then I'd take another off the stack and I'd figure out where in the stack it belonged.

After a few minutes I had gone through the entire stack and had a working list of priorities.

Extracting Meaning

One way I could have done this exercise was to order things based on what the current priority is. This way at the end you have a picture of why your life is the way it is. For me exercising would be at the bottom of the pile right under meal planning which is why I'm 60 lbs overweight.

I didn't do this though, I sorted my cards based on what I felt my priorities should be. This way when you're planning your days and weeks you can refer to this order and make sure you're doing things that support your higher priorities.

One thing that actually surprised me quite a bit was that for me right now starting my own business is a fairly low priority. It's still important to me, but so is everything else on the list.

Part of the reason it's so low on the list is that there are some shorter term commitments that I want to finish and take off the list entirely. Other items on the list may actually feed into starting my own business, but that's not why I'm doing them so I don't consider them to be the same item. For instance right now I'm taking a couple of online classes.

What's Next?

The next step is to turn this list into action. If there are items toward the top of my list perhaps I need to create a daily routine that makes sure I'm making progress on those commitments. It's also important not to just focus on just the top items, but make sure that I'm allocating time to the things that are important to me.

It will also be important to not spend a lot of time or energy on things that are toward the bottom of the list. If I find that I'm spending a lot of time thinking about or planning my own business I need to either move it up the list or realize that I should be doing something else instead.

What's great about the index cards is that I can keep them on my desk and look at them every morning and even reorder them as I see fit.