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Prioritising Life: Why It Matters & How to Do It


    Taking time to prioritise is key to reducing stress, being more efficient, and making space for what matters. But it’s more than just listing your tasks in order of importance. Life is more complicated than that and this sort of thing often leads to reactionary living instead of intentional living.

    What do I mean by this?

    Reactionary living

    Reactionary living is when things keep coming at you that need to be done right away, and you are too busy trying to keep up with them to to plan ahead or spend time on longer-term goals or tasks. Consequently, most things end up getting done last minute or not at all.

    Intentional living

    When you have taken control of your time and the demands on your time so that you can intentionally decide what gets done and plan ahead for due dates instead of rushing to keep up with them.

    Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Yes, there will always be fires to put out and emergencies that come up, but setting our priorities straight helps to mitigate some of these and is critical to making intentional living possible. 

    Prioritising your life means figuring out what matters to you…

    If you want to get your life in order, start here. Otherwise, you’ll be aimless and a victim of reactionary living.


    Here are just a few signs that it might be time to set your priorities straight:

    – Discontentment⁠

    – Feeling a lack of purpose⁠

    – Not knowing how to balance life and time⁠

    – Unable to say ‘no’ to things⁠

    So much of this can be rectified just by knowing what your WHY is. When you don’t know your WHY, you end up spending too much time on the wrong things and not enough on the right things.⁠


    When you know WHY you do something, it becomes a lot easier to decide IF it’s worth the time and effort you’re putting into it. I’m not talking about quitting all of your responsibilities and only spending time on the fun stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be done with laundry and cleaning forever, but that’s not how it works. However, laundry and cleaning are a lot less of a drag when I know my WHY. Keeping my home in order helps me to think more clearly. How relaxed my brain is directly correlates to the general state of tidiness in our home. That’s part of my WHY. Another part is my desire for my family to wear clean clothes and for our home to feel comfortable for us and others.

    These things motivate me to keep the laundry and mess in check.⁠

    Knowing my WHY also gives me the freedom to let some things slip occasionally without feeling guilty about it. I can let the dishes wait a bit longer for the sake of a bit more play time with my daughter, because at that moment, I’m choosing time with my baby now over at the expense of doing dishes later. I’ve counted the cost and am ok with it.⁠

    Figure out your WHYs. Set your priorities straight. I promise, it’s worth it.⁠

    So how do we do that? Here are some starting points for you.


    Evaluate How Your Time is Spent

    Try this exercise:

    – Keep a running list of everything you do today. I mean EVERYTHING. Dishes, childcare, work, emails, bills, phone calls, coffee with friends. The lot.⁠

    ⁠- For each item on this list, write down why it matters to you⁠. 

    ⁠- If you’re having trouble deciding why it matters, think about what would happen if it didn’t get done⁠

    Here are some examples from my list:

    1. Cook breakfast – because I want my family to eat well (and they won’t if I don’t make them), and I value the quality time we have together over breakfast in the mornings
    2. Fold and put away laundry – having a clean and organised house helps me to think more clearly
    3. Write a blog post – Doing so will (hopefully) benefit my future readers and advance my business so that I can better provide for my family

    Make sense? You will quickly begin to see which things are more important and deserve a bit more of your time, as well as which ones don’t need to fill as much of your time and headspace as they do.

    Eliminate Externally-Motivated Responsibilities

    This means you have to be prepared to say ‘no’ to other people. To be clear, I am not advocating a life that is totally self-centred and disregards the well-being of anyone else. What I AM advocating is things that you remove responsibilities that only exist because you have been guilted into them by someone or something else.

    Life is  FULL of external pressure. Other people deciding what you should and shouldn’t do. Societal norms that dictate what your life should look like. Do any of these sound more familiar?

    You should spend more time with your child. You should work more. You should work less. You should make a schedule to keep your house immaculately clean. You should try this new gadget or parenting style. You should volunteer here. You should relax more. You should… you should… you should… (And now I’ve looked at the word ‘should’ too much and it looks really weird to me)

    The whole point of prioritising your life is figuring out what matters to YOU. Not to anyone else. So if you come across anything filling space in your life that is motivated by what someone ELSE thinks you should or shouldn’t do, consider getting rid of it.

    Keep in mind, sometimes things feel externally motivated, that aren’t entirely. Your job, for example, may feel externally-motivated.

    Your ‘Why’ could be as simple as ‘Doing my job well matters to me because I want to excel in my career so that I can continue to provide for my family as their needs grow and develop’.

    Think about your future

    I know this can sound overwhelming at first, but stick with me for a minute. You don’t need a 5-year plan, or to know exactly who you are or want to be. Just imagine, when you look back at your life one week, one month, or even a year from now, what do you want to look differently?

    What do you want your time to have been spent on? Family? Work? Friends? Hobbies? Moving house? There is no right answer and the answer will be different for everyone.

    Just remember, that time well spent is time spent on the things that are important to YOU. Figure out what those things are and make space for them, because they won’t make space for themselves.⁠

    Not sure what they are? Check out How to Set Quality Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Write them down

    I love using my planner because it forces me to take a good look at what really matters to me, and which things matters less than I think.⁠ I start by writing my big-picture goals and use these to dictate how I will spend my time on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. 

    Writing down what your top priorities are and why they matter to you helps you to stay focused on them when other distractions and responsibilities come your way. It’s a way of holding yourself accountable to the things that you’ve said are the most important.

    Whether you use a planner, journal, digital notebook, or want to hang them on a wall somewhere, take the time to write out the things that matter most to you so that you can practice more intentional living.

    Still looking for the perfect planner? Take this quiz to find out which planner is right for you!

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