Prioritizing Your Time

Traditionally, the beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the prior year and look to improve the next. Whether you like to make New Year's resolutions, set goals, define intentions, or pick one word, it all boils down to thinking about what you would like to do better in your life.
For years, I would set New Year's resolutions, only to forget what they were by February. Part of the problem was they were always too large and vague. Eat healthy. Exercise more. To make them stick, you need to break them down into smaller, definable goals.

However, goals and I don't get along well because they seem to turn into oppressive "to do's". A well written goal is SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. For example, last year, I set a goal of biking 500 miles during the summer months. I broke it down to 25 miles a week for the months of May through September. Due to some warm Spring and Fall weather, I surpassed my goal and biked 631 miles. Even though I was really happy about the total, there were many times it seemed like a chore, a must do. Chores and must do's tend to eliminate the enjoyment. I decided not to set a goal for this summer; instead, I will look for opportunities to enjoy biking on different Wisconsin bike trails.

Setting intentions and finding one word are something I think I can work with; so this year I will prioritize my time by evaluating the things I do to see if they add value to my life. Over our vacation, mainly on the plane, I read Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, by the Minimalists. They discuss the concept of adding value under the chapter 'Contribution' and it really spoke to me. Despite our attempts at a simple life, I still feel overwhelmed namely due to all the things I want to do with my free time. Prioritizing my time according to the concept of adding value will help. Here are some of my thoughts:

Free time: When I have unstructured time, are my activities adding value to my simple life? Surfing Pinterest will be one of the first to go, allowing more time for creating something I value. Am I trying to do too much at once, causing my own stress? I may have to let go of some ideas or do them less often.

Time with others: Am I adding value to my time with others by paying attention to the conversation and not surfing my phone or talking with my back turned while I multi task? I'm guilty of both. Am I saying positive things to others, adding value to their life? If I am not positive, can I at least avoid being negative or complaining?

Health: Can I find more ways to add value to my health? Yesterday I took a walk for my soul, by trying to slow down and enjoy being outside. Before the holidays, I found a nice time slot for 15 minutes of body weight exercises. I felt stronger doing them and need to resume.

Gratitude: I've written about the power of gratitude, turning an ordinary or not the best day into a great one. Since this practice takes little time for such powerful results, I want to make it a priority. It truly adds value to your life.

Budgeting: Am I spending my money in a way that is adding value to our lives? We are working to reduce spending on consumables and random shopping trips. I have joined the January Money Diet to help get me back on track after the holidays. Interestingly enough, this week I realized that I am saving money to buy time. The less I spend, the more time I have; definitely a value adder.

Blog: Through telling my stories, each post will be written with the intention of providing ideas that add value to life. Prioritizing the time I spend writing to only include such topics helped me weed out some other posts I had started.

This list is a starting point to help prioritize my days so mentally I feel like I'm living a simple life. How are your resolutions/goals/intentions helping you prioritize your time?


  1. Hi Lisa,

    I am so on board with this! I love your thoughts about prioritising time in terms of whether it adds value. Having some intention about how I spend my time certainly has meant for less overwhelm and a more meaningful use of my time. So much growing! I love reading your story, meaningful use of my time - adds value :)

    1. Thanks Fran! I'm glad it is working for you as well :)

  2. Hi Lisa, I just wrote about our one and only new years resolution - budgeting! I agree that inventories of our time and reflecting on the value of time spent is a necessary activity - one which I haven't done enough of yet. After 2 birthdays and Christmas, I finally feel like I'm able to stop and slow down.

    1. HI Angela, Glad to hear you are finally able to slow down! Having a December birthday myself, it always feels like there is a lot going on in December. Budgeting is a great one and only :)So far, I have found it much easier to stick to my one goal, and a goal that is very specific, rather than my usual resolutions from years past. I hope yours works well for you also!


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