As soon as I think I've got my schedule figured out, something changes and I have to take another look at how I'm doing things. That used to really frustrate me. I wanted to figure my life all at once and never revisit the details again.
How to determine your priorities
Determining your priorities is the first step in making worthwhile plans and goals for your days, weeks and months. When you think about what matters the most to you, are you spending time doing those things that really matter? Or do you find yourself spending too much time on things that steal your joy and just cause you frustration?
Sometimes we can spend an entire day working so hard, only to feel like we've failed at the end of the day. The truth is some things are more important than others. Every day, you and I have to make choices about how we will spend our time. Everyone gets the same 24 hours a day. If you spend 7-8 hours sleeping, that leaves you with 16 or so hours to focus on your priorities.
When you are looking at your plans for the day or week, remember that you need to carve out time for:
prayer and your relationship with God
time to relax and enjoy your life
time spent with your children
time spent with your husband
time spent serving where God would have you
Remember that in the end, it's the relationships you have maintained that will matter the most to you. As they say, no one on their deathbed ever says, "I wish I had worked more or made more money." No, instead if they regret anything it's that they didn't spend enough time showing their loved ones how much they really loved them.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when planning how you will spend your time
What Has God Called You To Do?
When you are determining your priorities, your first objective should be figuring out what God has called you to do. For instance, a few years ago I had to make some hard choices about how I spent my time. I was burned out and stretched too thin. I needed to let some things I was spending time on go. Besides my home and family, I felt there were two things that God had called me to do. One, working each spring to lead and teach the Primary Department at our church's annual camp meeting. Second, running A Virtuous Woman.
I would encourage you to spend time in prayer over how you spend your time, where you should be spending your time, and what God would have you to do.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:8-11
God will make known the path of life to you. He will show you how to focus your priorities if you ask Him!
Does It Matter to Your Family?
Your family should always come before outside priorities. So many people spend their days working late, trying to provide the "best" life for their children. Unfortunately, they end up spending very little time with their kids. Toys, video games, etc., won't matter in the long run. What really matters is the time you spend with your children. It's those times that will create memories that last a lifetime. Always make your family a priority.
Another issue could be that you've made too many outside commitments. I know I often ended up with too many things to do because I didn't know how to graciously say no. When you determine what your top priorities are, you will know immediately if an activity falls within your priorities or whether you should not participate.
Which Items on Your To Do List Have a Deadline?
When it comes to making plans, some things just HAVE to be done within a certain amount of time whether you like it or not. For example, you may have until the end of the month to get your license renewed or a doctor's appointment on a certain day. You want to make plans and allow yourself enough time to get those things done.
There are some things that don't need to be done at a certain time. For example, organizing your pantry isn't something you need necessarily to do right now. If you don't have time in your schedule, move it to the next day. On the other hand, watching your daughter's softball game is something you shouldn't miss. Sometimes you really do need to get to a certain chore, but things don't go as planned. It's OK to give yourself grace when you are doing the best you can!
Lastly, you need to ask yourself if something has to be done by you. You may have things on your list that need to be done, but can be done by your spouse or your children. For example, the laundry needs to be washed each week, but that doesn't mean your spouse or your children can't be the one to do it.
It's good to look at each major thing in your life that you spend time doing and see where you can ask for help! In my house, my teenagers do their own laundry. That's a huge help to me!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on A Virtuous Woman. It has been modified and republished here with permission.
Melissa Ringstaff is an author and the creator of the Purpose 31 Planners for Christian Women. She has been blogging at AVirtuousWoman.org since 2001 where she helps women find freedom from perfection and the confidence to live life with purpose.