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6 Mindset Shifts to Prioritize the Essentials

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Busyness is often seen as an indicator of productivity. It seen as a status symbol, or even a way to avoid things that you should be doing. I know because I’ve been there. Yes, life can be full of lots of activities, but is everything you’re doing really essential? Are you prioritizing what is important, or just reacting to the requests of every email that comes in or notification that is screaming from your phone?

This can be an overwhelming spot to be in. Being reactionary is certainly the easier response, but will drain your energy the fastest. It takes time and intentionality and discipline to organize. The great news is that it’s not a special super power, or a talent that some people have and others don’t. Organizing to prioritize the essentials in your life is a learned skill. It’s a journey I’m still on also. Learning how to prioritize life essentials grows and gets richer the more you practice it. 

I want to share mindsets and tips that I’ve learned along the way. These are things that have helped me in my journey, and I hope that they may be helpful to you in your own unique organizing journey.

1.It’s a lifestyle change.

I had to train my brain to recognize that busyness is not an indicator of productivity. I also had to overcome the mindset that what I do is my identity. You can be busy, and yet be merely going in circles with your life and all your to-do’s. Or, You could also be making forward progress and accomplishing many good things, but that doesn’t mean you’re making steps in a productive direction. You were created for a purpose. Recognizing that planning your life around what is meaningful to you will free you to evaluate what is truly important. 

2. Take a sabbatical

It is in my times of rest that I am able to sort out the clutter that clouds my thoughts. These sabbaticals happened in many different ways. I plan time where I can seek God through his word or, while I’m doing artistic endeavors like sketching, painting, or writing help to free my mind of the hustling thoughts. Writing is great way to get your thoughts down on paper. One method I like to use when writing my thoughts on paper is the bullet journal style. In my note book, I pencil out daily highlights, prayers, and things I’m grateful for from the day. 

3. Allow Yourself to Experiment

You’re not going to get it perfect the every time. I know that can be challenging for some of us perfectionistic types. Letting go of the urge to make it perfect allows for the freedom to try new ideas. If the activity, process, or organizing method I’m trying works well, I then evaluate how I can weave it into my life. If it doesn’t work well, then it’s time to evaluate the pieces that need to change so the method of scheduling, or organizing, can be successful. Asking the question “How can I learn from this?” is much more empowering then telling yourself it was a failure.

4. Start Small

It can be tempting to jump in head first and try everything at once. However, this rushed enthusiasm is why most of us have challenges meeting their goals. You get burned out and overwhelmed. When you have a dozen things you’re “focusing” on at once, you’re not giving all your effort to any of them. You may be asking yourself: “I’m working, I have a family, there are dinners to be made, and laundry is so backed up…how I am supposed to focus on just one thing?” The idea is not to completely let the other things go. That would be irresponsible, as there are many aspects necessary to daily survival! A good place to start is to make a list with each of the areas of your life listed. Once that list is compiled, take some time to evaluate (on a scale of 1-10) how you are doing in each of those areas. Which area needs more of your focused attention?

5. Plan Out What’s Important

Not everything is important right now. This is a change in mindset that will help alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed. There are multiple layers when taking action for changes in your life: daily schedule, weekly to-dos, monthly themes, short-term planning (1-5 yrs), long-term planning (5-30+ yrs), and legacy planning (100 yrs. after you’ve left this earth). In the effort to start small, we’ll be looking at the daily/weekly goals. It’s important to be specific with your goals, and make them attainable. As an example, I am going to start a regular workout schedule to strengthen my neck and back (what I want to do). Due to my availability (looking ahead at what I can actually weave into my schedule), I am taking a Barre3 class online (selecting an option that fits my situation). I’m the type of person that does well with accountability from others. Interaction with other Barre3 enthusiasts from an online class takes more planning than going to a studio (know your strengths & weaknesses). So, I am joining a Facebook group, asking a friend for accountability, and planning to watch for free classes in my area (have an accountability buddy). My measure of success will be the ability to hold a confident posture as my “normal” (how will you know your action step has been met?). My workouts will be written on my calendar as a reminder, but I also will be getting to bed earlier & waking up earlier (how is your life going to change to accommodate the action you need to take?). Plan them out on your calendar in advance and stick to it. 

6. Don’t Go It Alone

Find other people who are on a similar journey. People who can pray for you, hold you accountable, and celebrate with you. There are groups on Facebook, MeetUp groups, or probably even people in your circle of friends who can walking the journey with you. I’m happy to be a part of that journey with you too. Remember to celebrate your wins, even if they’re small!

Learn more about becoming an essentialist in: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Questions: What is one action step that you want to achieve this month? How will you plan for success? What will you do to celebrate your wins?

Share your answers in the comments below.

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