We lead very busy lives and sometimes in our 'busy'-ness we lose sight of the important stuff. Too often, we feel we are overworked, tired, exhausted and too busy to do anything else. Days turn into weeks and weeks into years and we are stuck on this hamster wheel, giving it our all, but feeling like we are not getting anywhere. Ultimately, our failure to pay attention to the important stuff results in a barrage of insurmountable problems with health, relationships, family and even work. These seemingly disparate domains are interconnected in our life and often a failure to pay attention to one can impact all the others.
The antidote is to hit pause on the hamster wheel and reconsider our priorities. Figure out what is important in the long run and set objectives for health, career, happiness, spirituality and family. And then learn to live in day-tight compartments where these priorities are reflected in daily habits. If health is important, you need to be eating right, sleeping right and exercising right TODAY. Similarly, if family is important, you need to be spending time with your family today, not at some distant family holiday in the future.
An often-used metaphor for how to get our priorities right is that of a jar and being asked to fit large rocks, pebbles and sand. If you start with the sand, you can fill up the entire jar with sand and not have any room for the large rocks or pebbles. But if you start with the large rocks, that represent your important priorities, you can get these into the jar, and then progressively add the pebbles and the sand, accommodating all three. Similarly, your time is a finite resource, prioritising what’s important and then fitting in the smaller priorities enables you to hit those goals across all your pursuits rather than be drowned out by the clutter and things that do not matter.
The exact same system of prioritisation should be employed for each domain. At work, what are the three big things you are going to achieve today? Begin with these, focus on them, and get them done! Do not let the small stuff like checking email or attending meetings become what you achieved today.