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140-character expansion // priorities

I get a lot of inspiration for what to write about from my twitter account. I don’t know as though I ever intend for that to be my goal when I post a 140-character statement, but it ends up being the case more often than not. I suppose that’s because I use Twitter rather impulsively (or as impulsive as a non-impulsive person can), and most of my thoughts are fairly under-developed at the time of posting.

Yesterday, I posted the following tweet:

            “best question i’ve been asked over the past 6 months: what are your top 3 priorities and how does your time reflect them?”

…and I’d like to expand on this thought a little more than Twitter will allow me. In this case, I’m abandoning my article/essay format, and just sharing some bullet points that I’ve been thinking about when it comes to setting priorities for myself:

1. When setting priorities, don’t be afraid to:

-- categorize: for so long, I had trouble setting priorities because I was merging all my worlds together (professional, academic, relational, etc.). It’s important to ultimately acknowledge how these interact together, but also have an idea of what you are being called to work towards in each one.

--be specific: if you categorize, you’ll give yourself freedom to be more specific. Instead of having a priority list that looks something like this: God, Family, Friends, Work/School

You’ll be able to really focus on tangible and measurable goals. For example, instead of having “friends” be a stand-alone priority, why not choose 1 or 2 people that you’d really like to invest your time into? (And by the way, setting “relational” priorities has been the most important category for me over the past 6 months.)

--be realistic: technology likes to make us think that our capacity is greater than it actually is. While it does help at times, the truth of the matter is this: you are still human, and there are still only 24 hours in a day. Don’t choose quantity over quality.

2. Be careful who you listen to. People like to tell other people what their priorities should be. Make sure that you give yourself the freedom to make those decisions on your own, and not be controlled by everyone’s opinion about where you should be spending your time/energy. (Remember the golden rule of “doing unto others…” Once you have your priorities, share them when appropriate. Don’t broadcast them to make yourself look better, or use them to convince people that their list should look the same.)

3. Be willing to listen. In light of #2, I’d like to add that I’ve needed help setting my priorities. Choosing people I respect and look up to has helped me identify my strengths and strive for goals in the future. After setting your priorities on your own, ask a trusted friend/mentor for input, and be willing to hear what they have to say. This person can also help you maintain consistency on how your time is reflecting your priorities.

4. Setting priorities = freedom. When you have priorities, it’s much easier to make decisions on what to say yes or no to. That doesn’t mean that implementing priorities is always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it. 

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