Welcome to Part 1 of the ‘Spring Clean Your Life Series.’ In part 1,we talk all about how to get your priorities straight.
Picture this scene with me. Another day is done. As you face the evening and evaluate your day… you know that you missed the mark. You were impatient with your husband, didn’t read your Bible, the only prayer you said was asking forgiveness after losing your cool at the kids for running late… and you just know that you need to get your priorities straight. But… how?
This is a question, how to get my priorities straight, is one I have asked myself. This is also a question I’ve asked others.
One day, when I asked a friend how she managed to keep it all together, she simply replied, “Priorities.”
She didn’t have to explain any further. I was shook. Priorities. That one, simple word has deep depths. It holds the key to either chaos or calm.
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Right then and there, standing in the middle of our lawn, with my phone still in my hand after saying goodbye to my friend, something clicked. I had to face the hard fact that the priorities I claimed in life were more in the background then any true priority ever should be.
If someone had asked me my top 5 priorities in life (before that phone call with my friend), I would have rattled them off quickly. Jesus and my family at the top.
Here’s the horrifying reality, though: At that time, Jesus only got my time when I had time to give.
And it gets worse.
If I’m truthful, a lot of times I was acting as if my family was just an obstacle to my to-do list. Sure, I loved them… but was that love showing in my actions and in the structure of my life?
Let’s answer some questions together today:
- What does it mean to get your priorities straight
- How to know if your priorities are off track
- How to get your priorities straight
- Structuring your life to maintain your stated priorities
What Does It Mean To Get Your Priorities Straight?
A definition of priority found here is “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.”
That definition is the very basis for knowing if we have our priorities in order, or if there are some major adjustments that need to happen.
If we’re giving something attention before competing alternatives, that must actually mean that that thing is a true priority. On the other hand, if we say something is a priority, but then only focus on it if/when we have time… well, that’s pretty telling, and it does NOT match the definition of a priority at all.
Like I said, this is something I was guilty of for a long time. Truthfully, I still struggle with this. That’s the thing about people. We’re often bent towards comfort, convenience, and serving our own selfish motivations rather than the things we’re called to do through focusing on our own (often skewed) priorities.
When we have our priorities straight, the things that we say are important will match up to the things that we do.
It has become quite a normal thing for people to say one thing and do another. But we can do better than that. We can be people who believe strongly and DO strongly.
How To Know If Your Priorities Are Off Track
If you want to evaluate if you need to get your priorities straight, the first thing you need to do is identify your priorities. Don’t go easy on yourself. You need to name the things that, on your death bed, you will want to see the fruit of time well spent.
Next, you need to take an inventory of how you spend your days. Grab a notebook (or better yet, the free printable attached at the bottom of this post) and jot down how you spent your time yesterday, the day before, and for the whole week.
You need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. In this current age, one of our major time-wasters is our smart phones.
If you have an iPhone, you can check your screen time in the settings. You may be shocked to discover that with the amount of time you spend on your phone, you could get a part-time job. If that’s the case, then our connected-ness to the smart phone, and the endorphins it passes out, are actually a priority. Yikes.
Also, evaluate how much time you spend watching TV, or enjoying your latest Netflix binge. These are classic time-wasters that are famous for getting you, and your priorities, way off track.
This article from Wired about internet addiction is really interesting. If you’re finding that as you evaluate your time, there’s a lot of time spent on the internet in some capacity, just know you’re not alone!
HOWEVER, just because it’s common to spend lots of time on the internet, your smart phone, and other devices, does not make it all OK.
You have the power to make positive choices that are in-line with your priorities. You can get your priorities straight. It may not always be easy, but it is so worth it.
How To Get Your Priorities Straight
So now we know what it means to get your priorities straight, and we have identified whether or not our own priorities are off track. So what do we do if we find ourselves in the camp of skewed priorities?
Well, if that’s you (like it was me), you need to start making some choices.
Take your list of stated priorities. It could be a list of your top 5 priorities in life, or your top 10 priorities in life… whatever works for you! Those things that are at the top of your list? Put them at the top of your day.
For me, my faith is #1. So what does that look like practically in my life? What I’ve chosen to do is set my alarm for an hour before the time that I “need” to get up. It’s that time that I use to get into God’s word and pray.
I had to realize that if knowing God was my #1 priority, I needed to start actually spending the time to get to know him. It wasn’t enough to just talk about it. And I’m not talking about just putting it at the top of my morning routine, and checking off a box that I did it. I’m talking about investing in that time, and enjoying it.
My husband and kids are next on my priority list. For us, one of the things this means is enlisting our sweet friends (an older couple) to babysit every now and then so that my husband and I can get out for date night.
This also means that when I’m homeschooling our kids and/or trying to nurture our quality time, I turn my phone to silent. If I’m particularly tempted, I turn my phone right off.
It means not splitting our attention when we’re engaging with our priorities.
How To Structure Your Life To Maintain Your Priorities
Now you’ve identified your priorities and started putting them in their proper place. From here, you need to make sure those priorities stay where they belong.
To do this, setting up daily patterns is incredibly helpful!
A daily pattern is simply something that happens every day, in a predictable way. By setting up these patterns, you’re reducing the mental clutter of wondering what your day is going to look like.
Some of my daily patterns are getting up early to have some devotion and prayer time, start a load of laundry, and get some computer work accomplished before the kids wake up. Then I make a protein-filled healthy breakfast for the family, and tidy up.
After that I’ll do yoga, or a HIIT workout. Always quick, but always consistent. After these things are accomplished, I turn my cell phone off, and spend some time reading with the kids before digging into our homeschool day.
When I structure my days according to a pattern, the important things don’t get left behind. By following my daily pattern, I’m ensuring that my top priorities are all addressed before lunch time! This means that at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed and my husband is home, we can just relax, talk and have a great evening.
Daily patterns are the key for me as I attempt to get my priorities straight… and keep my priorities straight!
Your Turn To Get Your Priorities Straight!
We’ve talked through the process, and now it’s time to assess your own life and priorities. Do you have things in their proper order? If not, what can you do differently? What are some daily patterns you can put in place?
I have included a free worksheet to help you with this very process. You can fill the worksheet in and it will guide you and keep you on track as you set out to make healthy, important, intentional changes in your life!
Simply fill in the box below, and I’ll send it straight to your inbox!
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