It seems to me that the one thing everyone wishes for is more time. More time to get work done, more time to exercise, more time to spend with friends and family, more time to get our hair done, the laundry done, to clean and fix the car, to do boring household chores like buy new light globes and clean the fridge, to do little Pinterest projects and to prepare nutritious, healthy, clean meals. We’re always so busy, we always don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything we want done, why can’t we have more time??!!?!?
I myself suffer from time management issues. “I’m too busy!” I always find myself hollering at J. “I don’t have enough time for [insert chore/social commitment/appointment/errands/whatever/life in general]. I need more time!!!”
And in fact, trying to fit in work, exercise, prepping and cooking healthy meals, dates with friends, quality time with J, writing, blogging, housework and a good night’s sleep in the space of 24 hours is simply not working for me. Simply. Not. Working.
That is, until I discovered this. The Magical Three Priorities.
One night, I was surfing through the blog of super stylin’ illustrator/photographer/Cool French Girl in NY Garance Dore and was reading one of Garance’s super funny an d entertaining blog posts about exercise. I scrolled down to read the comments left by others and came across one particular comment by a fellow reader named April who mentioned how she’d once read this interview with Amy Poehler (random, I know, but this is truly how I found out and I swear I’m going to make my point in the next sentence!). In the interview, Amy talks about how her therapist suggested she visualise fridge magnets with priorities written on them – such as work, health, friends, etc. – and each day she can pick three magnets to focus on as her priorities for the day.
I was so intrigued by this, I actually Googled it and found Amy’s exact words:
My therapist gave me a good visual metaphor that I use a lot: I picture a refrigerator and on the refrigerator are six magnets. Each magnet says things like: relationship, kids, health, work, money, fun with friends — whatever. Every day you can really only put three magnets on the refrigerator. You’re not going to be able to use all of them. Like today is about my work, my children, and my health. Then the week goes by and you’re like, ‘I haven’t used my ‘fun with friends’ magnet in weeks! So I try to approach it that way.
I thought that was a great idea and am ever so grateful – to April for sharing this, to Garance for providing the platform where April shared this, to Amy Poehler for sharing her therapist’s words and to Amy’s therapist for coming up with this concept in the first place!
So now what I do is envision my fridge magnets. In my mind, they are round little magnets with a priority written on each of them. My main priorities are:
- Friends & Family
- Quality Time with J
- Household chores/errands
- Me Time (this can include any kind of solo pastimes such as reading, meditating, etc.)
- Body Beauty Time (may include things like hair and beauty appointments, home facials, manicures, etc.)
Each day, I pick three different priorities to concentrate on. For example, Monday’s priorities could be Work, Nutrition and Exercise – usually because Monday is my grocery shopping day and the day I do a lot of prep work for meals for the rest of the week; it’s also the first day of the work week; and finally I always feel more productive and energetic if I’ve managed to get a workout in on Monday.
Then, because I’ve done my food prep and a long workout on Monday, that leaves me free to devote more of my energy towards Writing, Blogging and Spending Quality Time with J on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, with my writing and blogging out of the way, I can spend time with Friends & Family and maybe do some Household Chores and Exercise. And so on and so forth.
Now, a couple of things:
You don’t have to use all your priorities all the time: I know I’m not going to be able to cram all my priorities into the space of one week. And that’s fine with me! I don’t have to use all of them all the time. Body Beauty Time, for example, is something I will probably only use maybe once or twice a month for, say, a hair appointment, an eyebrow appointment or if I want to do a quick shopping trip to stock up on some new clothes and beauty products. And maybe one week, I’ll have a lot of social commitments so that week will be heavily geared towards the Friends and Family priority. But then next week, I’d want to catch up on work, so I’ll be devoting my time then towards Work and Quality Time with J.
Write your priorities down: Take a couple of minutes (either at the beginning of the day when you wake up or before you go to bed the night before) to jot down the three priorities you’re aiming for in a notebook. Writing down your daily three priorities will help you visualise your goals for the day. Also, after a while, you can look back and see which priorities you’ve been using more than others – this will help you see which items you prioritise most in your life and can also give you an idea of what priorities you’ve been neglecting. For example, if your main priorities for the last few weeks have been Work, Household Chores and Exercise, maybe it’s time to use your Friends & Family priority or Me Time priority for a change! This is also a great way of ensuring you keep that work/life balance just right 🙂
I definitely felt more relaxed and productive on the first week I tried this. Too often, I try to get everything done in one day – and of course end up feeling like I got nothing done instead. Now, with my three priorities firmly visualised for each day, I find I’m a lot less harder on myself and I set far more realistic goals that I can accomplish each day. I hope this helps you too!