Real Talk · Uncategorized

How to make time for your priorities (and prioritize them!)

If you’ve been following along recently, I’ve been writing about priorities over the past few weeks. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound too exciting, but you guys, I promise it is more exciting and relevant than it may at first seem! Just bare with me, okay?! Trust me! I am SO SO passionate about this stuff because applying these things has changed my life!

Let’s review if you’re just jumping in now. First, I shared a personal post about the time when I noticed that my life was incredibly unbalanced. I shared that I came to realize my life was unbalanced because I lacked priorities. I kept letting all the urgent and pressing demands of life and work distract me from taking care of the things that were truly important to me. And so I found myself living a life that didn’t align with my personal values and the things that I really cared about. After that post, I shared the exercise I used to help me figure out and clearly define what my priorities were.

And today, as promised, this post is going to be about how to actually incorporate these priorities into your daily life. Because, while making your priorities list is great, you’re missing out if you don’t actually LIVE them out.

By this time, hopefully you’ve had a minute to let your own list marinate with you. Don’t move forward if you haven’t done that important step yet. If you’re not sure about a couple, use the tips in this post to test out a priority you think you might want, but aren’t sure about, and see if it feels right after carving out time for it. Or, does it feel like it’s just another thing on the list and not something truly increasing your happiness and state of life?

Before we get started, remember this is a process.

Before we get started, I just want to remind you that THIS IS A PROCESS. I’ve been working on this for about 2 years now and it has been a slow and steady journey. But over time, I have made significant progress and I can confidently say that I live a much more balanced life than I did a little over a year ago.

Also, different seasons of live might have different priorities. Remember that you’re always evolving and growing, and as such your priories might be shifting as well. Like, my priorities won’t look the same one day when (well, if) I have kids because obviously their needs will come before my own. But even still, it’s important to be intentional about what is important in our lives and making an effort to actually live them out in our every day life.

Step One: assess where you are.

In order to make any change in your life, you’ve got to first be honest with yourself about your NOW. If you know where you ARE, then you’re better able to figure out where you want to be.

Think about how you actually spend your time RIGHT NOW. What does a typical week ACTUALLY look like? Not what you hope it looks like, but how the hours actually pass each day. Look at your calendar or whatever you use to keep track of commitments, and highlight what is NOT included in your list of 3-5 priorities. Maybe you notice a lot of work events but growth at work isn’t a priority, or its making you miss time away from your family or workout classes, and family and health ARE priorities.

Then, go a step deeper and spend a week or so really analyzing your days – minute by minute. Are you catching yourself going to the TV on autopilot after work before spending time reading or developing your brain (which might be a priority?). Are you spending any time prepping food for a healthy lunch the next day if health is a priority? Are you spending your commute talking to friends and family because they are a priority? I’ve been using the screen tracking feature on my iPhone and it has been pretty eye-opening for me to see how I’m actually spending my time versus how I think I’m spending it.

So often we think we don’t have time for things, or we are trying to do TOO much. Hopefully now that you have that defined list of 3-5 priorities, you’ll be able to identify what’s in your schedule that is NOT a priority. But think about writing out how you spend each hour currently, and just taking note for a week. Then you start to make the changes…

Step Two: eliminate.

Now that you have highlighted the areas where you are spending your time/energy that doesn’t fall into your list of 3-5, it’s time to start eliminating. But you want to do this VERY slowly. Don’t be scared to do this in small chunks – too much change isn’t always a good thing, feel out what’s best or you and go from there.

It’ll look different for everyone but eliminating certain tasks, commitments or habits might look like the following:

  • Letting a friend know you aren’t able to make book club any longer.
  • Telling your boss you can no longer volunteer to run the softball team at the office.
  • Setting boundaries for whether or not you’ll work on the weekends, after a certain time, etc.
  • Canceling cable.
  • Going through your bank account and canceling services that aren’t within budget.

Again, go slow if you need to, but gradually try to eliminate any of this “waste” over the next couple weeks. If you want to do it all at once, totally fine, but know that you’re not failing if you don’t. Making room for priorities can take time.

Before jumping into step four, I want to talk about why I do things from a weekly perspective.

Weekly organizing versus daily organizing.

Weekly planning helps keep our schedule in perspective, whereas daily planning keeps us focused on urgent and pressing tasks or deadlines.

One of the most helpful things I ever did was start looking seriously at how I was spending my time on a weekly basis. It helped me maintain perspective and remember that maybe not every single day will look perfect, but that my week as a whole could better reflect what was important to me. So maybe I couldn’t workout or focus on my health every single day, but seeing that I was prioritizing it 3x/week was more realistic and helped me to keep focused on the bigger picture.

My fiance and I now spend a little bit of time every Sunday (or Friday afternoon) planning our week ahead. We lay out our calendars and start scheduling in our priorities. We use flexible blocks of time to set aside time for doing certain things that are important to us, both as a couple and for our relationship but also for our own priorities. We are sure to always leave enough flexibility so that we can shift things as needed.

  • Finding overlap – I also try to overlap things or create synergy between priorities if I can: like call my girlfriends and catch up while on our way to work in the morning or on our drive home after work (work and friends), listen to podcasts while cooking (education and health). Organizing my time from a weekly perspective helps me to plan things better than if I did it each day or when I “felt” like doing some planning.
  • Planning to plan – When I look at things from a weekly perspective, I’m also able to think through certain situations that may need planning. Many things become urgent because we haven’t given enough thought to preparation. For instance, one of my 2019 plans was to focus on my health and Tyson’s health. Specifically, I wanted to cook even more that I already do. But if I don’t detail out how I’m going to do that each week, it will not happen. So sitting down on Sunday night helps remind me: okay, I need to figure out WHAT I’m going to cook, WHEN we’re going to go to the grocery stores, WHEN I’m going to actually cook, and etc.

Step Four: schedule in your priorities & start prioritizing.

Now is the fun stuff!

This is the time to start adding your list of 3-5 priorities into your daily routine. Not to say that you need to spend X amount of time on X priority a day (that might be impossible), but I will say you want to get to a point of balance. There isn’t a magic formula for how much time you need to spend on a priority a week to make it prioritized, but the important part is that the MAJORITY of your life is spent around your 3-5 priorities.

Remember, you will still have to spend time on things that are outside of this list (pretty sure no one’s priority is taking out the trash or going to jury duty). But the greatness comes when you eliminate everything in your CONTROL that isn’t a priority and instead, prioritize the priorities!

I suggest making a list of ways you can do this, with some examples being:

  • You have a long commute to work that won’t change, but now you spend it calling a friend (if your priority is friends) or listening to a podcast (if your priority is self-development or learning).
  • You hire a meal delivery service because your priority is health and you know you don’t make the best choices when you have to cook/shop for yourself. You still have to feed yourself, but the hard work is done.
  • You plan a weekly date night with your partner to watch a show you both like instead of watching The Bachelor in the other room. You still get your downtime, but you’re taking your priority (relationship) and eliminating what’s not (reality TV).

Once you have the list or an idea of how to fit your priorities in around daily life, you can start finding your own formula of time that works best for you.

Fill in your calendar and try to make time for each priority either every day OR a few times a week. For example, if a priority is self-care, one hour a week probably isn’t enough. You need to find ways to add this in every day or more often. And remember, you can really BREAK DOWN your priorities so that it feels more manageable. Examples:

  • Spend 10 minutes each morning reading from the bible or practicing faith if faith is a priority.
  • Have a standing Wednesday call with a friend if friendship is a priority.
  • Go over your spending every Friday and Tuesday to stay on track with a budget priority.
  • Take a bath a few times a week instead of showering if that’s what relaxes you and self-care is a priority.
  • Watch a YouTube video a week on something within your industry if career is a priority, or even ask yourself “how did I better my career today?” before leaving the office.

My point is, these priorities should naturally blend into your life without really forcing it – they’ll stick more that way and will be easier to manage.

Side note: remember the importance of rest and renewal. I’m all about scheduling the heck out of everything but we have to remember the importance of actually scheduling time to REST and REJUVENATE. It’s incredibly important and actually helps us perform better in other areas of our lives as well.

Step Five: weekly assessments.

A really easy, quick way to check in on your priorities is to take daily or weekly assessments of your time. You can get snazzy and have a highlighter per priority and go through each week to make sure you’re taking time for each, or you can just go through your week in your head. If you find yourself missing a priority or really not spending time on it or spending too much time on non-priority items, you can catch yourself. Set an alarm on your phone to do this daily or weekly. This can also help you see if your list is unrealistic or difficult to maintain.

I honestly think I could write an entire additional blog post JUST on weekly assessments, but at this point, I’m afraid I might be boring you with all my priorities talk! All that to say, I think following up each week to see how you’re doing (and be honest with yourself) is incredibly helpful in following through! You learn what works for you and what doesn’t! You can also see which goals might have been a little too aggressive or not realistic for you, right now. And then you can adjust.

Remember, this is all a learning and growing process and will look different for everyone. I’d love to hear from you if this content resonates with you! Happy prioritizing!

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Real Talk · Uncategorized

How to define your priorities & why you should care.

Before you jump into today’s post, I want to stop you and make sure you’ve read the post of mine from last week. While you could read today’s post and still gather something from it (hopefully!), that first post really sets this up – or at least that’s how I intended this whole priorities chat to go. I always like to tell the whole story of something instead of just sharing tips or whatever, so I hope that first post better lets you understand the WHY behind this post! And it might make it more personal for you too 🙂 OK but after that’s read, jump into this one…

The funny thing about “priorities” is that we all intend to have them and might even think we do, but following through and actually living a life that reflects them is a different story. This blog post has been a long time coming because I’m realizing that in order to – as cheesy as it sounds – live your best life and be your best self, you’ve GOT to figure out what’s most important to you. And that a lot of us, myself included, might think we know that, but we might not – and we definitely might not be living our life with those priorities at the forefront of our daily actions.

This whole topic and post are about why it’s important to define your personal priorities (because they’ll be different from mine or anyone else’s) and then how to start living your life with those priorities truly in mind – and with habits that keep them in practice! First up, the WHY!

Why it’s important to define your priorities.

Your top priorities in life impact everything. Literally, everything starts there. Your priorities shape your actions, your days spent on this Earth, the decisions you make, how you spend your time, and the type of behavior you’re willing to tolerate from other people. Or at least they should be if you are truly looking to live your best life.

Usually, I’d say it makes more sense to list out reasons WHY I think you should define your priorities. But in this case, I think it makes for a stronger point to explain what happens WHEN YOU DON’T define them. Read through this list and I bet you’ll be able to relate to some – if not many – of these examples.

If you’re not clear on your priorities, you’ll:

  • Have trouble managing your time and making progress on your goals. Actually, you’ll have a hard time even setting goals – much less following through on them.
  • Have a hard time following through on your commitments. You’re likely to overwhelm yourself with too many responsibilities because you’re disillusioned into thinking that you can do it all. Sorry to break the bad news dolls, but you can’t do it all. And not everything is equally important. You have to draw the line somewhere.
  • End up going through the motions of your life in a constant reactive state, falling victim to what’s urgent and pressing on you in the moment. And then by the time you’ve reached the important tasks, you’re exhausted and spent and end up pushing it off until later.
  • Struggle to quickly and confidently make decisions because you lack clarity on your values and long-term vision for your life.
  • Fall victim to living out what you think your priorities should be based on other people’s or what you’re reading or consuming.

You’re not alone, this is hard for everyone.

I’ll admit, it’s uncomfortable to define your priorities because it forces you to deal with the inevitable reality of trade-offs. It forces you to face the fact that you cannot do it all and that prioritizing requires sacrifice. It requires you to push some things down the list or even scratch them off all together. But it’s better to be in the driver seat, making this decision, than letting it happen to you. It’s better to know what you’re sacrificing upfront, rather than be surprised or upset by it later.

Do you see why I feel so strongly about this?! It’s SO important to define your priorities SO THAT you can live a life that reflects them. I’d say the hardest part is figuring out what they are and then looking at whether your time and energy align with them. If you need help figuring out what your top priorities are, keep reading.

How to define your top priorities.

You can’t prioritize what’s important if you don’t KNOW what’s important to you…

So let’s figure that out! I’m going to walk you through the process I personally went through about two years ago when trying to define what was most important to me. It was incredibly helpful and has changed my life for the better! I hope you’ll be able to find the time and answer these questions for yourself.

Step One: Set aside the time to do it.

This is important because casually thinking about it while you read this article doesn’t count. You actually need to find some time in your schedule and sit with a piece of paper and a pen– I’d say at least an hour or two, and make it pleasant. Grab a cup of tea on a weekend day, light a candle, make the space feel open to thoughts.  Come back to this post when you’re ready to really think through this exercise I’m about to guide you through. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Step Two: Create a list of things you consider to be priorities.

If this sounds overwhelming, let me help guide you through it. By definition, priorities are the tasks, experiences and actions that fulfill your personal values. If you don’t know what your personal values are, that’s okay, we’ll figure it out together through this exercise.

Note: When answering these questions, I want you to be honest with yourself. We have a tendency to feel like certain things should be a priority in our lives and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves because of it. Try not to do that. It’s hard but TRY.

Question One: What are the things in your life currently, that if removed or destroyed, would most impact you (and leave a big, gaping hole)?

  • These are things that you want to maintain, but could also be areas of your life that you want to IMPROVE.
  • Note that it will be specific and different for each person but consider the following: your health, your partner, your family, your friends, your job, etc. But this is just the starting place. Keep reading.

Question Two: What are things in your life that you have now, but you would like to be better?

  • Also, think about why you want them to improve – not why you think they should improve but really how your life, your days, your world, would improve. This is important.
  • Things to consider: Relationships with friends, working on your marriage, health, home organization, closet organization, time for reading.

Question Three: What do you most desire?

  • Think about your personal longings and dreams. What do you hope will happen? What do you hope to accomplish (and why)?
  • When doing this exercise, BE HONEST with yourself. It’s hard sometimes to admit some things to ourselves like, well I really just want to be loved (that’s OKAY!) or I want to be successful so I’ll feel good about myself and others will think I’m impressive (that’s OKAY TOO!). The key here is to be direct and honest and keep asking why.
  • Here are some common examples of desires to get your mind going: Career success and satisfaction, to start a family, find a husband or true love, deep relationships with friends and a strong community of people to do life with, to help people and contribute to society, to make a difference or cause change, to leave a legacy and be remembered, to be liked or admired, To be happier or experience more joy in your current circumstances, to heal from the pain or hurts of your past etc.

Question Four: What are you most unhappy with in your life right now and why?

  • Thinking about what you’re most unsatisfied or unhappy with gives you another perspective into what might be missing from your life. It will also help you see areas that you’d like to improve. These areas might also be symptoms of bigger issues too or help you realize that you’re neglecting one area of your life and it is impacting another.
  • Some examples to get you started:
    • You’re feeling stressed at work and it’s spilling over into your personal life, distancing you from the people you care about most.
    • You’re hanging out with people that you don’t totally feel comfortable with, and you’re not being your true self with them – this could be in a romantic relationship too.
    • You’re watching a ton of TV but aren’t making time for hobbies that actually give you happiness.
    • You’re living life based on what you think you should be doing for success, even when it doesn’t feel right to you.
    • You’re tired all the time and it’s starting to take a toll on you.
    • You’re gaining weight and you want to stop your unhealthy habits before things get too out of hand.

Step Three: review step two and create a list of priorities.

Look over everything you’ve written and write out a list of 6-10 things that are important to you. This might take some time because I know you want to write everything, but we’ve got to make a clear list. We can deal with the details and specifics later, but make a neat list of one-lined items (bonus points if you can put a WHY behind each one). For example:

  • Improve my health because it is good for my mind and body and sense of self-confidence.
  • Invest in friendships because spending time with friends brings me joy and I know that I was built for connection and community.
  • Take better care of my home because I often feel overwhelmed and stressed when things pile up, so I think getting organized will help improve my life overall.
  • Get to sleep on time because I know that more sleep will positively impact multiple areas of my life.
  • Build a business so that I can follow my dream or to find more freedom with my schedule.
  • Put more love back into my marriage.

Step Four: narrow your list to your top 3-5 priorities.

This is important because this is where most people get tripped up. Unfortunately, you cannot do it all and you will HAVE to CHOOSE what is MOST important from all the things that are important to you (aka the list above). It’s okay, you can do it!

Narrowing down the list you just made in step three is really important. You just listed out 6-10 of your top priorities, which should have gotten your brain going and helping you to refine your list of ALL THE THINGS that are important to you.

But, from this list I think it’s really important to highlight your MOST important priorities – the ones that WILL have a trump card over all the others. This doesn’t mean the others aren’t important, it just means that you’ll have some sort of hierarchy since you won’t be able to realistically live out ALL of them at ALL times. And personally, I think it’s important to keep the “TOP” priorities list UNDER 5.

Here are some tips for narrowing down your list:

  • Is this priority connected to my long-term goals and vision for my life?
  • Is it really a priority or do I just feel like it should be?
  • What is my WHY behind said priority? For instance, if getting a promotion at work is a priority, think about why you want it. Is it for money and will that money truly impact your happiness? Is it for status and does that really matter? Will it excel your career and let you travel the world which you’ve always wanted to do? Sometimes exploring the why can reveal new truths and insights to us that will help in getting more perspective.
  • Would I be willing to sacrifice for said priority? And why?
  • Would this priority truly impact my life on the regular?
  • What would my life look like if I choose this as one of my top 5? And will that really matter?

Realize that if you don’t choose your “TOP” priorities, then your circumstances or other people will choose FOR you.

Keep in mind that these priorities do NOT have to be forever. I like to think of priorities as an evolving list that changes with the different seasons of my life. Some seasons might call for work to be a priority, others for health, and then others for family. It does not have to be set in stone.

Step Five: write the list out & review a week later.

Okay so you’ve gone through all these steps (hopefully!) and now I want you to write them out! I keep them in a list in my NOTES app on my iPhone! Then walk away for a bit, spend some time away from all this introspective, priorities-based thinking. It’s important to let it all sink in and put some space and time between you and your list. And then look at it again a week or so later and see if you agree with this list! And if you still stand behind what you wrote down!


Now that you KNOW what your priorities are, the next step is to assess how your current life aligns with them. And then once we’ve done that, we’ll start taking baby steps to honestly living out our priorities each and every day.

This blog post has gotten WAY too long, so I’ll have to cover that one in another post in the coming weeks! If you got to the end of this, I’m REALLY proud of you! I may or may not have spent WAY TOO much time on this post, but I believe so strongly in doing a reflective exercise like this and think it’s important.

Next up, we’ll talk about how to actually INCORPORATE these priorities into your life (which is where I think a lot of us get stuck), but at least we have them now. So let them sit and we’ll be back on this soon!

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Real Talk · Uncategorized

My life was incredibly unbalanced and I couldn’t figure out why.

I had another blog post scheduled in my calendar for today. It’s titled “Why You Need to Know What Your Priorities Are & How To Figure it Out.” I’m still going to publish it another day, but I wanted to write a less formal, more personal #BeccaBrain type post to walk you through HOW we got here – to me wanting to write a post on priorities.

About two years ago, I hit a major wall. I was in a perpetual FUNK and couldn’t figure out what was wrong to save my life.

I was burnt out, exhausted and apathetic. I was going through the motions, surviving rather than thriving. And I hate when I get like that. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my life was incredibly unbalanced. I worked almost every day and even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work. And if I wasn’t thinking about it, there was still this feeling. This icky, heavy feeling weighing me down.

If you had asked me to list my priorities, I probably would have told you my relationship, family, friendships, health, and work. And I actually believed all of those things were priorities (ha!). But my schedule and my day-to-day life did not reflect this at all.

I allowed work to come before just about everything, making sacrifices in other areas of my life in order to get just a little more work done. I’d tell myself I would get to all the other *important things* later. That I’d make up for it the next week. The more I achieved, the faster I ran, believing the lie that my efforts and sacrifices were worth the elusive reward I was chasing.

What was I even chasing though? To be honest, I don’t think I could have told you the answer. But I couldn’t stop.

Work made me feel good. It made me feel important. And there was instant gratification. I was addicted to the feeling of productivity, success, and affirmation. And my life just got so out of balance because of it. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t think I fully realized the effect that the unbalance was having on me emotionally, physically, and even professionally too (like I think my work suffered because I wasn’t living life if that makes sense?)

There were several times that I tried to incorporate balance back into my schedule. I’d sign up for yoga classes or plan coffee dates with friends. OR I’d force myself to take days off and set arbitrary boundaries for when to stop working each night.

But doing these things was not enough. When push came to shove, I could always somehow justify or rationalize choosing work.

I wasn’t getting to the root of the issue. I needed to take a step back and see the way my life actually looked and compare that to what I wanted long-term. And I needed some major perspective.

During one of my breakdowns, I started keeping a jounral. I took a step back from everything and tried to go back to the basics. I wrote these questions down:

  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • What’s important to you and why?
  • What do you desire most?

I spent TIME writing down the answers and actually THINKING about the answers before writing them. I didn’t just write what came to my head because honestly some of those answers didn’t feel real at first. So I let my thoughts marinate and THEN I answered them.

This was a GAME CHANGER for me.

I was able to see clearly that my life did not align with who I wanted to be, what’s important to me, and my deepest desires. Something about writing it down and seeing the discrepancies really gave me a clear perspective.

And so I started to dig. I asked myself a lot of WHY questions. I started journaling a lot more, spending way more time in self-reflection. I asked myself why I was running so hard and what I was running towards. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out. But I will say that writing down WHO I wanted to be and what I believed to be MOST important set the stage for some radical transformation in my life.

Once I put on paper what my priorities were and saw how I wasn’t living them out, I knew I needed to make some changes.

If you don’t know what your priorities are in life, then the world will define them for you. If you don’t define what’s important to you and commit to following through, then the urgent things in your day-to-day will takeover your life. Time will pass, things will pile up and before you know it, you’ll realize you’re not living the life you want to be living.

Because trust me, more money or a more successful career (or whatever) is not what you’re missing in life. And it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re running towards.

So, stay tuned and come back to the blog next week to read my post on why you need to define your priorities and how to do it! And then eventually we’ll talk about how to actually live them out!

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