Balancing your priorities can be a challenge. It’s one of modern life’s little jokes. You either have money or you have time, rarely, it seems do you simultaneously have an abundance of both.
Invariably when I’ve had the cash flow to undertake new projects, I haven’t had the time to implement them. And, conversely, when there’s been plenty of time, the resources haven’t been available. I don’t need to tell you how frustrating that is. It sucks! And, I’m sure you’ve had your own experience of it. Unless you have unlimited access to time and money, you need to find a way to balance your priorities.
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This is where being clear on your priorities comes in to the picture. If you’re not aware of what your big rocks are you can waste a lot of time and money on pebbles and sand. Both time and money are important to your quality of life, your budget and your plans for the future. Balancing your priorities can help you make the most of both.
How do you figure out what your priorities are?
Sometimes you need to decide what is NOT important to you and then work backwards; you’re bound to notice a few trends appearing. For example, I don’t particularly care about the latest fashions. Having 17 pairs of shoes in the latest colours, heel shape or pattern doesn’t appeal to me. I would much rather purchase a pair of shoes that I can wear every day, are comfortable and will last a long time. (I tend to live in my hiking boots much to my daughter’s disgust).
Very simply, this tells me I value function over fashion.
The next step is to see if you can apply the ‘function over fashion’ principle to other areas of your life, for instance; clothes, furniture, plants, bed linen, cars, entertainment… I’m sure, that like me, you’ll see a pattern emerging, too. If you’re a function over fashion person, you’ll either have mismatched bed linen and dinner sets or they’ll be all white and, basic black will play a large role in your wardrobe.
Knowing this simple fact about myself means I’m rarely tempted to buy a fashion item because I know I won’t value it and it will be clutter within a week. Applying that knowledge alone constantly pays extra off my mortgage.
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Which are you; fashion or function? If fashion is a priority for you but need to stick to a strict budget, that knowledge can save you money. Accepting your love of fashion as one of your priorities means you can plan for it. If you know you’re likely to buy several pairs of shoes each season, you can choose to spend less on each pair knowing you’ll only wear them for a short time. You’re not deluding yourself into thinking you’ll wear them forever so it’s OK to spend the big dollars.
Knowing what your priorities are enables you to be discerning about how you spend your time, too.
Are you wasting your time on pebbles and sand?
Do you spend two or 3 hours per evening watching television? Are you always scrolling through your Facebook feed? What else could you spend that time on? If eating healthy meals and snacks made from scratch is important to you, then turn the television off for just one evening per week and spend that time baking or preparing snacks or lunches for the week. Ultimately, prioritising the use of your time, saves you both time and money.
Television and the internet can be huge time wasters. It’s easy to get sucked into the latest dramas or competitions. But, if you’re serious about focusing on your priorities whatever they might be: looking for ways to increase your income, learning new skills or being better organised – you need to turn off the TV and log out of Facebook. If you don’t give some thought to your priorities for yourself and your life, you’ll fritter away the time and resources that are available to you right now.
Balancing Your Priorities
Once you’ve established what your priorities are, you can actively work toward them. You can give them the money and time they deserve and not waste those resources on pursuits that at best, don’t serve what you want from your life and at worst, can move you further from your goals.
What are your priorities for yourself and your life?
Do you want to:
- Spend more time with your family?
- Have an active social life?
- Learn to dance the tango?
- Learn to speak Icelandic?
- Retire early and travel the world?
- Earn a promotion at work?
How you choose to spend your time and money, how you prioritise these resources, has an immediate impact on your chances of realising your dreams. Once you understand your priorities, balancing them against all the other requests on your time becomes much easier.
Having clear priorities makes it much easier for me to decide what I will do rather than what seems easiest (and sometimes more fun) at the time.
Thinking about the way I spend my time and money in relation to my priorities enables me to see where I am losing or wasting both and how to value each resource more so that I can reach the goals that really matter to me.
Do you have trouble balancing your priorities? Have you ever gone through the process of removing the unimportant to find the important?