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Managing Priorities for a Productive Day

Managing priorities is crucial to creating a productive morning routine that leads to a productive day. Yesterday, we talked about finding the time in your busy morning to do the things that are important to you. Before that, we talked about figuring out what those important things are.

Managing Priorities

Today, we’re going to talk about managing priorities that you’ve set for your morning. I want you to think about what you should and shouldn’t do in those first few hours of the day. That’s an important idea to consider.

Too often, we get stuck in a rut, doing things in our routine simply because we’ve always done them. We do this without ever really considering if the routine is the best use of our time.

It’s Not About Doing More in Less Time

It’s easy to imagine that changing up your morning routine is all about doing more in less time, but that’s not the goal at all. Many books and articles on productivity and time management would have you believe that the best morning is the one in which you get the most done in the least amount of time.

However, while that might be a good short-term strategy, it’s neither a good idea nor is it a sustainable one in the long term if your goal is meaningful change. The real goal is managing priorities, doing only what is needed in those hours.

Shift your thinking from a paradigm of “more is more” to “less is more”. If you want an extra 15 minutes in the morning, don’t just think about getting up 15 minutes earlier or shaving 15 minutes off of your morning routine by taking a high-speed shower, getting dressed in record time, and scarfing down breakfast like a starving animal. The goal is not to add more to your already overflowing plate.

It’s About Making Smart Choices

Rather than having a mindset of cramming more and more into a morning, shift your mindset to one of doing only what is needed. Think about how you can make the best use of your time by managing priorities.

Compare your perfect morning to your current morning routine. Think first about what you AREN’T doing during your ideal morning. Begin structuring your morning routine by first cutting things out of it, not adding more to it. There are two excellent ways that you can find things to cut out of your morning routine that aren’t serving you well.

Eliminate Busy Work

First, look for busy work. What are you doing out of habit that you don’t necessarily have to do every day? Maybe you’re checking your email first thing in the morning. Maybe you’re playing around on Facebook for a half-hour while you drink your coffee.

If that’s how you want to spend your time, that’s perfectly fine. You might really enjoy getting your email out of the way early or watching cat videos while you have your coffee. However, if you’re only doing these things because you’ve always done them, it might be time to rethink your habits.

Stop Doing Everything for Everyone

The second way to quickly find extra time in the morning is to look at all the things you’re doing for everyone in the morning. Are any of the things that your spouse or kids could be doing for themselves? If you’re a mom like me, you might discover that you can actually earn back quite a bit of time just by having your family take care of themselves in some instances.

Kids are the perfect example here. We make their breakfast and lunches, clean up after them, pick out their clothes, and make sure their backpacks are packed and ready to go.

But do we really need to do all of those things? Nope. Of course, when our children were very young, we had to take charge of all of these things, however as the kids get older, they’re perfectly capable of doing all of these things for themselves. Even at a young age, my kids helped pack their lunch the night before school.

These healthy muffin recipes are perfect to make ahead of time for easy breakfasts.

This is also true of our spouses. Maybe there was a time when you had less to do in the morning and it made sense to take on the majority of morning chores to help lighten the load for your busy spouse. Have things changed since then? Is it time to get your spouse to help lighten your load? It’s an important question to ask yourself.

Managing Priorities Helps Create Time

The big takeaway today is that managing priorities helps create more time in your morning. Remember, you don’t’ have to do everything for everyone, especially if your children are a bit older.

Delegate some of those morning activities you do to your children and spouse. They can make their own breakfasts, dress themselves, and clean up after themselves. Your spouse will probably be more than happy to take some off your plate, and your kids will learn to be self-sufficient. AND you’ll find you have more time in the day!

Planning your Day

Free Daily Planner worksheet

Click on the image for the free printable version

What I like about this planner is that it doesn’t provide room for a long to-do list. Ideally, there should only be a handful of priorities each day. If you know something absolutely NEEDS to be done today, put it on the list. If it can wait until tomorrow, or even later in the week, write it on that page. I print these pages and keep them in a binder.

Looking at a huge to-do list can feel overwhelming. Focusing on one day at a time will help you feel more accomplished when you get everything done. And if you don’t, that’s OK too. Simply put something you missed onto the next day.

Don’t forget to stop by the Facebook Group to discuss your challenges and successes as well. It’s always better if you know you are not in this alone.

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