Establishing Our Priorities

This may seem a bit backward, but since I have been “off the blog wagon” for 10 days, I seem to be working backwards in reflection mode!  So going back to my two previous posts about prioritizing and balancing our priorities, before we can establish our priorities, we need to know what they are!

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So I’ll once again borrow from one of those previous posts:

In my life, my priorities are God first, and then the special people in my life: hubby; family; friends; and others such as colleagues and classmates.

After people, then priorities are work, education, and leisure; the difficulty has been in how I organize or prioritize those three, as the “importance or urgency” changes from day to day.

The most crucial thing, I think, is that things should not take precedence over people, who are much more deserving of attention.

OK, so once we know what (and who) our priorities are–and we’re content with the order in which we’ve prioritized them, and are doing our best to balance time accordingly for each priority…how do we go about establishing our priorities?

Well, let’s first understand what it means to establish something in the context we are using, via the online dictionary: “to place or settle in a secure position; to make firm or secure; to cause to be recognized or accepted.”

From these definitions, we could then say we want to settle our priorities in a secure position, and cause them to be recognized or accepted as priorities in our lives. They hold a position of significance, and barring circumstances beyond our control, those people first and things secondly should retain the levels of priority in which they are secured.

Of course, we do have to recognize that life happens and it’s better to be flexible enough to modify a schedule and re-prioritize if necessary, than to be so rigid that a change of plans causes physical and emotional distress (picture a willow tree bending with the wind, as opposed to a brittle tree snapping when a wind gust comes along). I think the key here, as I’ve been learning in my own life, is to honor the people in our lives enough that we can spend quality time with them, but also discuss issues with them and trust they will understand when we do have other obligations to meet.  Communication is key.

As an online doctoral student, I especially liked the points made in this article about the importance of college students establishing priorities and managing time wisely; I also like that it came from some higher education agencies in New Hampshire, where I was born, raised, and lived until 10 1/2 years ago when I moved to Maine.  We can modify and extrapolate some of the key points for our purposes here regarding establishing priorities:

  • Use task lists, calendar, and other time management tools to track and coordinate all your responsibilitiesA couple tools I use and recommend are Toggl, which is a time-tracking and task-recording tool for your desktop or online use, and an online timer that allows me to watch my time in an open tab.
  • Acknowledge and understand the difference between IMPORTANT and URGENT tasks! Urgent = Do them NOW. Important = Do them as soon as you can, but not before URGENT tasks!
  • Integrate more complex tasks during your natural rhythm of peak productivity–don’t work against yourself! It’s up to each of us to determine WHEN that time is!
  • Remember: You are NOT invincible and you can NOT do everything! Wonder Woman and Superman are just fictional characters; in real life, we must honestly evaluate our time, commitments, and capacity to handle certain workloads and obligations–and learn to say no when necessary.
  • Learn to take good care of yourself! Sometimes we get so busy, we forget to eat, get enough sleep, spend time with family, exercise, or just take some time off to relax and refresh ourselves. Maintaining good health in all aspects (physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental) is essential.


Time is an equal opportunity employer. 

Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. 

Rich people can’t buy more hours.  Scientists can’t invent new minutes. 

And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. 

Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. 

No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow. 

~Denis Waitely


Do you struggle to establish your priorities? If you have a good handle on this, would you be willing to share your tips?


3 thoughts on “Establishing Our Priorities”
  1. It’s hard for me to give advice. At this point in my life, I suspect my life is a lot less “crazy” than many; although that could change at any time. I intentionally do not take on a lot of “extra” activities and don’t have any young children or grandchildren in my life – at this time, anyway.
    Alana (@RamblinGarden) recently posted..Getting Reacquainted with Arkansas

  2. Great post, Karen! You are so right about the importance of determining the difference between urgent and important. I know that there have been times when I have failed to distinguish between the two, and I thought I was doing the important things in life, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
    Steve Nicholas recently posted..The Rewards of Persistence

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