Some of you may be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Well, recently, I had an image form in my mind of what I’m calling Georgia’s Hierarchy of Priorities.
If you’re like me, you have a multitude of things you would like to do (or have to do) and a limited amount of time in which to do all those things (I’m pretty sure everyone’s in this boat). I realized the other day that a natural hierarchy of priorities has formed in my life and it’s on this basis that I make decisions on how I allocate my time.
Because – NEWSFLASH: you can do anything but you cannot do everything (thank you, David Allen).
Recognizing this hierarchy actually set my heart and mind at ease because it very clearly reflects my true priorities and is a clear guideline for my decision making.
At the top is FAMILY and for me, this encapsulates quality time with my 5 most important people – down time together, outdoor time together, meals together, trips together. It also includes all the unspoken, often un-thought of little things that go with family.. things like making lunches, doing laundry, drops offs and pick ups, yard work, homework help, banking, Dr’s appointments etc etc.
Next comes ME because (as I like to remind all of you) you need to nourish yourself before you can nourish others. Me time is for walking dogs at the SPCA, reading books, taking a pilates or yoga class, or having a nap. It’s necessary, SOLO time to nourish my body, mind and soul, so I can be there for my family, and also show up to…
WORK. The third item on my priority list, because HEY, work supports me and my family. It pays the bills and it pays for all the experiences I like to share with my loved ones. [Bonus that I really enjoy all the different kinds of work that I do!]
Fourth on the hierarchy is SOCIAL LIFE. This includes time with friends, but also time volunteering and contributing to the community. I’m not going to lie – this is the one I struggle with the most. There are a lot of people, activities & causes that slot into this category, competing for a very limited amount of time. There is no balance to be found here.
Last is ALL THE THINGS, a catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit into the spots above.. and often totally ignored for long periods of time. Anything that I aspire to do which isn’t a priority yet, and thus is pushed to the bottom of my to do list or to ‘someday’.
Family is always #1 – I will ALWAYS drop everything to be there for my family.
Sometimes Work sneaks in to the 2nd spot, above Me, especially if there’re deadlines looming. I try not to get to that place because in the end it leaves me pretty depleted, but, shit happens. If work does start to impinge on my dog walking or pilates time, I try to make sure it’s for as short of a period as possible.
Social Life is always next to last. Sorry, friends. Sorry, good causes. I can only do so much and the social aspects or life are where I most often say NO in order to prioritize time for Family, Me and Work. It’s not that I don’t care about my friends or great causes – I do – and I sometimes wish I could do more. But – “anything, not everything”. So, often all I can do is send good vibes from afar, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.
I can be pretty ruthless with my boundaries. However, this hierarchy works for me! And knowing that it’s there provides a clear framework for me and eases my decision making. It reminds me that client work can’t trump ‘me time’ for too long. It reminds me what’s truly important in my life and what I can let go of.
Do you have your own hierarchy of priorities? What would it look like? How do you manage all the things you want and have to do within the limited capacity of our human lives?
Let me know!