Motivation Monday: Priorities and Pickles

 In Motivation Monday

When we fail to set priorities, we follow the path of least resistance, picking and sorting through tasks, working on the easiest ones and leaving the difficult, less “fun” ones until later (or never). How do you know if your priorities are in line? Imagine an empty pickle jar.

This pickle jar represents the time you have each day. Now, imagine placing a bunch of rocks in the jar. These are your large priorities – the goals you set for yourself in relation to work, family, community, and self – these should take up most of your time. Now, in the spaces between the rocks, imagine adding as many pebbles as can possibly fit. In the spaces between the pebbles, as much sand as possible, and then finally, fill the remaining spaces with water. The pebbles represent things you enjoy doing, the sand represents things you have to do (e.g., go grocery shopping, get your hair cut), and water symbolizes those things that simply clutter up your life (social media, mindless website scrolling, TV, distractions).

Now, imagine first filling the jar to the brim with water. Then, imagine trying to add sand, pebbles, and then rocks. It won’t work. Your day will be filled with clutter and you will not find time to dedicate to your priorities. Figure out what your big rocks are, tackle, schedule, and accomplish those first, and enjoy the benefits of a prioritized life. Here’s a few more tips:

  1. Keep your priorities written down in front of you.
  2. Learn your high energy time and schedule priority work when you have the most energy, so you can get more work done in fewer minutes.
  3. Don’t read and re-read emails. Respond immediately and file it away to clear the clutter from your inbox. If it doesn’t need a response ever, trash it. If it something you want to look at later, leave it unread and put it in a “to look into further file.”
  4. Write down your objectives before returning calls so they are more efficient/quick.
  5. Write tomorrow’s to-do list today, instead of writing it in the morning. Your brain will subconsciously work through some of the to-do list items during the night, and you’ll wake up feeling more motivated and prepared to tackle the items.
  6. Stop self-sabotaging behaviors such as preparing and preparing without actually doing, failing to ask for help, waiting until low energy times of the day to work on priorities, and spending half the day “psyching yourself up” to work on your priorities.
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