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Prioritising Competing Demands

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

In our lives, we are often or even constantly faced with the situation where there are multiple things to do and we need to decide what to do now, what can be done later and what not to bother doing at all. Understanding the priority involves understanding how urgent the task is and how important the task is. Both can be very subjective. Therefore, it is first worth establishing what the point of everything is. That point, often forgotten and almost universally misunderstood, is to live happily.

Living happily is a relatively simple concept but has two deep words in it – 'live' and 'happily'. Let's unpack this. To simplify this blog post, first we are going to establish what happiness isn't. Happiness is not attachment. This is such a common trap and misunderstanding it's sad. Happiness is actually being free from attachment, worries and anxiety. With that out of the way or explained elsewhere, we can move onto the first word – 'living'.

So then, when we are deciding which task to take action on, it is in order to live. In our hyperconnected world, it is not just for myself to live. Even without realising it, we actually live for ourselves when we live for others. Just think about it – we need food to live. Therefore, we get a job, earn money and purchase that food from someone else who has made it for us. We are actually living for others. However, is this how people think? Only occasionally. All too often, we are focused on living for ourselves, and this is what causes all the blockages. Falling for the trap that happiness = satisfying attachment.

When we are focused on living for others, that has hopefully helped the decision process of what to do now. But not fully! In fact, in order to really understand what is urgent and/or important, we need to have a clear mind. Then, it is possible to understand what to do through intuition.

We are very likely to have a list. It is worth considering having a list of things to do long term, a list of things to do medium term (within the next 3 months or month), a list of things to do weekly and a list of things to do daily. Many of these, especially daily, will have repeated tasks. It is worth establishing each of these lists and monitoring over time the extent to which they are achieved. It may be that either we were over ambitious or too lazy!

If we were over ambitious, we adjust that list. This is where the wisdom from having a clear mind comes in. If you were too lazy or slow (like me a lot of the time!) consider planning what you are going to do the next day as a schedule – i.e. with times of day attached. At the end of the day, if you didn't meet those times, it will be clear if it was because you had other things to do, your times were too short or you got distracted. Practice makes perfect, as does having a clear mind.

Credit goes to Canva's Text to Image app for these interesting AI generated images.

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