February 1, 2017


Good morning and welcome to February!  The focus this month is on PRIORITIES and living life according to those priorities.  For me, setting priorities has to happen on several levels. I’ve spent a lot of time on this over the past few years and have drawn from many resources to reach my final lists.
The first level is setting my overall priorities for structuring life in general.
1. Faith
2. Self: Physical and Mental health
(if I don’t have my oxygen mask on I can’t help anyone else)
3. Family and Friends
4. Recreation (which helps my physical and mental health and my family and friends)
5. Work
6. Photography
The second level is how I (try to) structure my days. I try to set aside specific time for each of these areas. It doesn’t mean that the lower items on first level the list get less time. It means that I consider the importance when scheduling my days.  For example, when I am at work I am focused on work and that is getting 100% of my attention because it is the time for work. However, if I didn’t take care of items 1,2,3, and 4 on my list I would be a lot less effective during that time.  Conversely, when I am spending time with my family I turn off my phone and don’t check my work email.
The third level is what I consider to be more of the nitty-gritty – the reality of it all.  In the craziness of real life, how am I making decisions based on my priorities?   I keep returning to the idea of *urgent vs. important when trying live out my priorities.  In the moment-to-moment decisions about which problems I will try to solve and which actions I will take I try to ask myself if what I’m doing is moving me toward the big picture goal -important- or simply reacting to something that could be done (or even not done) at a later time -urgent. This third level is where the rubber hits the road and my best laid plans usually fall apart.  So this month my main focus will be here.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas about how you keep your priorities straight.
*The idea of urgent vs. important comes from Sean Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens that I used to use as a homeroom curriculum for my 7th and 8th graders.  That book is actually what got me started on all of this self-improvement many years ago. I was asking my students to develop habits and ways of thinking that I hadn’t yet developed.  There is a book for adults too, The 7-Habits of Highly Effective People by Sean Covey, but my immaturity made the teen book more relevant for me.

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