I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them.
Measuring the passage of time helps me focus on what is truly important.
I have a weekly routine I call Coffee, Classical, and Priority. On Monday morning, I sit down with a cup of coffee, turn on classical music, and reflect on what has real value and deep meaning for me.
I spend an hour focusing on the major priorities of my life, reviewing how I spent time the previous week, and making sure my calendar in the coming week is aligned with those things that I most care about.
I track the weeks of each year by their number. For example, the week of November 23 is the 48th week of 2014. Each week I add the next week, in this case, “49”, to my PRIORITIES document and draw a line through the previous week, “48.”
Marking time reinforces that last week is over. I do not judge myself based on what I did or did not accomplish. I accept that things turned out as they were meant to be.
While reviewing the previous week, I celebrate what I accomplished and reconsider what was left undone. If an undone item is indeed a priority and remains important to me, I move it forward on my calendar to create time and space for it. If not, I delete it.
One of my favorite quotes is by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, “All of you are perfect just as you are and you could use a little improvement.” I use this as a guiding principle when I close out the previous week. It feels liberating to remind myself that I am perfect just the way I am.
Next, I turn my attention to the current week. It is fresh and brand new. It’s a clean slate full of promise and potential. Here I consider what I can do this week to advance my personal and professional goals. This is when I invest time on my calendar to improve my life because I can “use a little improvement.”
The Seven Wonders of My Life
You can tell what someone actually cares about by looking at how they spend their time. I try to make certain that my major priorities, what I call the “Seven Wonders of My Life”, are each represented on my weekly calendar:
- My One True Love
Each week I consider how I can invest substantial time in those things that are truly important to me. I have learned that I am most effective when I focus on just one or two major items each day. Therefore, I strive to identify no more than ten priority items each week and make certain I allocate enough time for them.
This weekly routine helps me stay disciplined to my goal of aligning my time to the people and things that are most valuable and meaningful to me.
Image via Death to the Stock Photo