I've been feeling totally scattered. I have the week off of work and had been highly anticipating getting a ton of stuff done during this time. At the beginning of the week I felt anxious; the time had finally come, the long-awaited week of productivity. And yet, I struggled to begin, to knock things out in the inspired way I imagined myself doing during this time. Why?
Priorities. Just that, the plurality of this word kept me from focusing on any one task. They are all important – how do I choose; where do I start? Overwhelm. As Greg McKeown points out in his pertinent book, Essentialism, the word “priority” was meant to be singular. By definition, it means the very first or prior thing. It wasn’t until the 1900s that we tried to bend the meaning of the word by making it plural. It doesn’t make any sense; we can’t have multiple “first” things. By creating a list of several “priorities” we water down each and every one of them, ultimately making none of them the actual priority.
This concept seems especially relevant with the coming new year, a time of reflection and new promises, when we all make grand plans for change, only to fall into the cliché of failed resolutions. It is most often because our plans are too grand, or involve too many small changes all at once. It’s time to simplify, to choose just ONE.
Whether you’re knocking out a to-do list or wanting a massive change in your life, identify your one priority for the next hour, week, or year. Commit to it. For that time period, give yourself permission to dial back on everything else. With all that you do, consider if it aligns with your one priority.
I'm serious. ONE thing.
While there are certainly other important things in your life, put them on autopilot during this time. For example, if your focus is expanding your business, don’t spend hours in the kitchen cooking every night (unless you are a chef, obv). Find a few simple, healthy, go-to meals you can prepare or order in. If your resolution is to get more sleep, cut back on your evening activities so you can get to bed on time. Let a few things go undone. Stop trying to do it all. We can do a lot of things pretty well, or do one thing really well. Streamline the necessities and give your one true priority the energy and attention it deserves.
If you’re not totally sure what the ONE thing is you want to focus on, start with a list of all your “priorities.” Take some time to sit with this list and make sure it includes YOU. Meaning, do these items move you towards your ideal lifestyle?
Go with your gut to number the list from most important to least; forget the “should’s” and prioritize the ones you’re really excited about, the ones that jump out at you. Consider the least important ones – do you really need to worry about those now? Maybe set them aside for tomorrow, next month, 2017, or... never. Look at your number one: what can you do right now to move that forward? Let your life revolve around that one thing for the chunk of time you’ve allotted.
We distract ourselves with long to-do lists, ambitious resolutions, grand plans, emails to be answered, social media to check, and just generally wanting to be everywhere and do it all. But in any one moment, you can only be in one place, doing one thing. So give that one thing your all and see what you can accomplish. As for me, I’m already making my way through my to-do list... Weekly blog post: complete.