Written by Malka Akhenblit
Do you ever feel increasingly stressed with the number of tasks that you find yourself juggling? Do you have seemingly never-ending distractions that get in the way of attending to your priorities? Oftentimes, it is easy to get caught up in attending to tasks that call for our attention, irrespective of whether they are truly our priorities. Sometimes, the most important priorities, such as our closest relationships, self-care, and dearest dreams do not make their way onto our urgent to-do lists. Believe it or not, a simple tool can help. Effective scheduling can assure that we remain strongly rooted in our priorities.
When scheduling, it helps to first outline the top 3-4 true priorities in your life. This brainstorming process requires placing everything you care about on the table, such as time with your loved ones, self-care, various professional pursuits, independent learning, etc. After identifying what we truly want to accomplish in life, the next step is to break these priorities down into specific tasks. “Being a healthy person” may mean setting a consistent time and place to work out. It may also mean committing to a meal plan, or seeing a nutritionist. “Being a great daughter, son, parent, spouse, friend etc.” can mean having a set time to spend with certain individuals and attend to their needs. Although this sort of planning may feel boring and unnatural, this is what enables us to actualize our most important values in our lives.
Once our priorities and their associated tasks are laid out and broken into specific directives, it’s time to put them into an actual schedule. The more we can break down and plan our daily activities into specific steps and put them into our schedules, the less decision-making we have to make on a daily basis. This is beneficial in several ways. Recent research has found that decision-making depletes our physical energy – as such, making decisions in advance helps keep us more energized in our daily activities and not bogged down with constantly choosing between priorities. When we know that a time to cater to each priority has already been penciled into our schedules, we are able to be more present and find more joy in all of our daily endeavors. We may also want to put effective systems into our lives, such as a nightly time to create to-do lists for the next day, in order to check-in regularly about whether we are on track in meeting our aims.
Well-crafted schedules also serve as a compass to stay focused on our goals in an increasingly distracting world. If we’d watch a Navy Seal training for an important mission, we would see exquisite commitment and attention to detail. While not all of us may face active combat, if we want to keep our focus it is worthwhile to prioritize our lives with a similar level of care – happy scheduling!