Balanced Life

How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake in Prioritization

Almost any task you could take up has some value.

Working serves others and provides an income. Time with family grows relationships and expresses love. Evenings with friends cultivate community. Devotional time nourishes our spirit. Even leisure is a blessed time of needed rejuvenation.

But this can lead us to a dangerous mistake in our prioritization.

Relative Value and Independent Value

The biggest mistake we can make when we set priorities is to view the value of a task independent of other tasks.

There’s no shortage of good activities for us to engage in. There’s no shortage of things we want to do or things we feel like we should be doing.

But we do have a shortage of time. We can’t fit it all in – and at some point, we have to decide which activities make the cut and which ones don’t.

Our priorities and activities are competing for our time, so we need to understand their value relative to our other tasks.

Don’t ask yourself why an activity is a good thing to do. Ask yourself why it’s better than the other things you could be doing with your time.

Loaded Schedules and Guilt Trips

It sounds so simple, but yet we don’t do it. We hear about volunteering in the community, think it’s a wonderful idea, and we sign up. We set New Year’s Resolutions of reading more, buy a few books we want to read, and thoughtlessly try to cram it into our schedule.

The worst way this manifests itself is how we think we should live.

We beat ourselves up that we don’t spend more time with family. Or that we don’t exercise more. Or that we don’t rest more. Or that we don’t work more.

We look at the independent value of those tasks and feel like failures when we don’t schedule them in.

But look at the relative values. Not only will you have more peace of mind, but you’ll make better decisions about how to spend your limited time.

Photo Credit: winnifredxoxo (Creative Commons)

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