Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Priorities, Part 2

Photo via Mental Health

Yesterday I wrote about priorities and why prioritizing is such an important tool in today's world of endless opportunities. So how can you make prioritizing work for you? And where do you begin?

For starters, taking time to set our priorities can help us take stock of where our time, energy, and funds - I refer to these as our personal resources - are going, and recognize where they could be better utilized. When we take the time to consciously prioritize our desires and commitments, we are giving ourselves the power to redirect where our life is headed. That's powerful stuff!

An easy way to take stock of what your current priorities are is to make a personal resources log. You can do this by creating a journal, chart, or spreadsheet where you log everything you do over the course of a week. Your log doesn't need to be too detailed, but it should include each activity, how much time you spent on it, whether it was energizing or energy zapping (this will vary for each of us), and the cash result (either inflow or outflow). Here's a couple examples:

Watched TV, 1.5 hours, energy zapping, $0 (you could prorate your cable bill here if you wanted)
Worked, 9 hours, energy zapping, $500 inflow
Dinner with a friend, 1 hour, energizing, ($40)
Played soccer, 2 hours, energizing, ($10) on a new team shirt
Showered, .5 hours, energizing, $0

Photo via Ask Miss A

The purpose of this log is to give you a snapshot of what your personal resource allocation looks like right now. Feel free to alter these categories or add more categories as you wish - maybe noting how you felt after each activity or who else was involved.

Once you have a week's worth of information in your log, it's time to tally up where your time, energy, and funds went. Take a look at which activities took up the most time. Recognize where the most money was spent, and earned. Note which activities zapped your energy and which revved you up. Finally, after looking at only your personal resource allocation, what do your priorities appear to be? Try to answer this question as analytically as you can, without letting your personal bias answer for you. You might realize that watching television or working overtime has become more of a priority than you'd like to admit, and that's important to be honest with ourselves about. Or perhaps you realize that where your personal resources are going is just where you want them, and that's important to see as well.

So what do you do now that you have an accurate picture of your personal resource allocation (and what your actions are telling you about your priorities)? It's time to reassess if your actions match you desires. Stop by next time to find out how.

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