Laura Stack's Find More Time: How to Get Things Done at Home, Organize Your Life, and Feel Great About It informs this Tuesday feature for the next few weeks. Chapter 2, our focus for this week, is entitled "Mastering the Second Pillar--PRIORITIES." If you read last week's Life Management 101 post, you are probably discerning a pattern. The book has eight chapters, one each for the eight "Pillars of Personal Productivity." And each chapter is entitled "Mastering the [insert numerical adjective corresponding to chapter (and pillar) number] Pillar--[insert pillar name]." A clear, if unelectrifying road map.
But let's talk about priorities. I'm especially eager to engage this topic, since "Priorities" was by far my best pillar, as measured by Stack's Productivity Quiz. (Interested readers can take the quiz, on Stack's website, by clicking here.) I guess this means that I'm pretty clear about what's important, and take some pains to address it, even if I'm not particularly disciplined or efficient about it. (My less-than-stellar pillars, in decreasing order of wonderfulness, were: Pests, Post (?), Paper, Play, and Possessions. But later for all of that.)
I achieved my quite presentable score on Priorities by responding to the following quiz items, which are expanded upon in Stack's Chapter 2. Each item was to be rated 1) to no extent; 2) to a little extent; 3) to some extent; 4) to a considerable extent; or 5) to a great extent. My responses are in red.
To what extent do I . . .
- Spend enough time with the people who are dear to me. 
- Volunteer in a way that feeds my spirit and makes a lasting contribution. 
- Eliminate time-zapping addictions from my life. 
- Limit my children's activities to manageable levels. 1
- Make my health a number-one priority. 
- Exercise consistently. 
- Enjoy the way I spend most of my day. 
- Practice healthy eating habits. 
- Get enough sleep. 
- Make time to feed my intellect and continue my learning. 
Of course, as with any static measurement of a dynamic phenomenon, these numbers are only as good as the day in which they are attributed. Fluctuation certainly occurs for me around this apparently stable column. And not only in the behaviors that are being assessed, but in the mood of the assessor, which affects my propensity toward grade inflation. And even on a good day, there is room for improvement in the degree to which my actions reflect my so reluctantly crafted mission statement.
You may be wondering why the sleeping/eating/exercising piece is a part of Stack's concern with priorities. But really, it makes sense that if we don't maintain our instruments, we aren't going to be particularly good, or enduring as performers. And as I move further into that portion of my existence when refurbishing becomes more of an issue, I recognize this wisdom. Which is probably why I'm way ahead of Stack on this one.
I am withholding judgement as to whether or not I am likely to "find more time" by spending more time with this book. With next week's pillar, Personality, we begin to move in the direction of my lower-scoring stanchions (although I think of myself as having lots of personality). The chapters which deal with my more problematic areas may be more telling as regards the book's potential usefulness to me.
For this week, I intend to rest on my fairly well-deserved laurels. I will need the rest, as we head into the murky waters of my time-mismanagement foibles.
1 I reframed this item to reflect the evolution of my parenting role, and gave myself credit for working to provide appropriate support to the adolescents still living in my house, and to pare down and simplify such commitments.