Recently, in our Define My Day user group, a user said that getting dog food was a priority for the day. It happens. However, we don’t want to let routine “to-do list” tasks overtake our priorities on a regular basis. Sometimes, we need to take care of a suddenly urgent issue that gets in the way of our priorities. It’s our goal to minimize how often that happens.

Purchasing dog food, grocery shopping, laundry, etc are all important “to-do list” items BUT should not regularly fall into the “priority” category. Here’s why…

Our Define My Day priorities should be actions that move us forward to a better life. Dog food doesn’t do that. It is important because it keeps our dogs alive. Same with feeding ourselves. But, in order to move forward with our goals, we should avoid these things becoming urgent matters that require priority action.

Routine actions like grocery shopping, cleaning, yard work, maintenance, etc. should be relegated to the to-do list and planned for after our priority work is accomplished.

Using the dog food example, here are two ways this scenario plays out.

  1. Defined Days: We identify that we have about a week’s worth of dog food left and add “buy dog food” to the to-do list on the right column in Define My Day. In our “Ideal Day” we have “to-do list” scheduled at 5pm. Running through our list, we see “buy dog food”, go to the website, order it, and have it delivered before we run out. Our total time cost is about 5 minutes and it happened during our low-priority, “to-do list” time of the day. Better still, we know we buy it every 4 weeks and schedule an auto-delivery. No negative impact on our day and now we have more time to spend with Fido.
  2. Reactive Days: We’re overworked and overwhelmed. We can only address situations that need taken care of immediately. We forget to buy dog food and only realize it when we go to feed Fido. We have to make buying dog food a priority now. We run to the store, a 20 minute trip each way. The entire process takes almost an hour of our time while also causing stress and anxiety. Even worse, we’ve stolen time that we could have used to relax… including playing with Fido.

Can you see how spending five minutes purchasing dog food ahead of time compared to an unplanned sixty minute shopping trip would make life easier?

How often is something like this happening to you? Fifty extra minutes here, thirty minutes there and the next thing you know, a few hours each day that could be used for self-care, priorities, or rest… have now disappeared. And the cycle continues.

We all get caught in a reactive cycle at points in our lives. Emergencies will happen and get in the way of our priorities. Life happens. It’s our job to be sure we don’t create this cycle. When we do, we perpetuate a situation that we don’t want.

If you find yourself in a reactive cycle that you cannot seem to break, your first priority should be to get a handle on where you can create a gap of time. You can do this by first identifying reactive tasks like the above example that can be avoided.

If you can find an hour per day, you will begin to decrease your overwhelm and find even more time to focus on your defined, priority actions.