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How should one think about priorities in life? In this article you will learn 3 of the most important factors for setting priorities, and for the control freaks among you, you will learn a systematic way to discover your life priorities.

Looking for the video on the article? Here it is:

Okay, how do we set priorities? Think about activities and events in your life. Which ones should you focus on? What you need is

  1. a way to discover things you may be forgetting that are actually quite important (we’ll talk about that one later)
  2. a way to rank them so you can pick the top ones

So here’s a proposal for a ranking formula:

Priority equals time, times importance, times potential for improvement. When prioritizing we tend to focus on importance. And certainly there are things that are very important even though we spend a little time doing them, like a wedding.

But it isn’t worth focusing on things that are very important if they have no potential for improvement.

And there are things that are somewhat important, but we spend a lot of time of our life doing them, like snoozing, so their priority increases.

But here’s something that complicates things a bit:

There are things that obviously take a lot of time, for example getting educated. Others look insignificant but add up over time. Some examples:

  • If we spend 30min every day snoozing, that makes for 1 year’s worth of snoozing between age 15 and 65
  • If we spend 2 hours a workday commuting, that’s 3 years* If, on average, we spend 8 hours in front of a screen every day, that is 26 years out of 80 spent in front of a screen

I have developed a system that pulls it all together, and in a moment you will see me applying it to my own life.

But first, I want to thank my patrons. This video was brought to you by my supporters over at patron. We have 1 new patron since last week – thank you very much :).

Here’s the system to pick your priorities based on the formulas we have seen above.

Download and print this table, fill the white squares.

What you see is that each row gets its own time magnitude. Think about it this way: all activities in the same row end up taking the same amount of time when summed up.

For example, something you do for hours every week is equivalent to something you do for years during your lifetime.

It is important that you go through each square and think about it for a moment, this way you will discover things that may be important to you that you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

Here is how I filled it up.

Notice, for example, how time spent eating has decades worth of time, just like education has.

If at any time this looks too confusing to you, I’d like to let you know that I would be happy to program a little tool that does this all for you. All you need to know is

  1. Become a patron to get access to our self-help platform (1$/month is enough)
  2. Let me know in the comments that you want this feature

Moving on. Next step: go through each item and give it an importance rating, from 0 to 7. Bonus points if you use red for negative items.

Next step: go through each item again and give it a “potential for improvement” rating from 0 to 3.

Here is how I filled the table:

The final step is add all items except the ones with an improvement potential of 0 to the following list:

priority is time magnitude + importance + improvement potential.

Here is how I filled this list:

From this process I see 4 areas of improvement for myself:

  • Creativity
  • Family
  • Mindset
  • Fitness

What do you think? Is it too “cerebral”? Take it with a grain of salt, don’t expect to find “the truth” from such a tool, but I certainly got an interesting insight from it. For example the realization that mindset affects you all day, every day. So what can we do to improve our mindset? Learn about this topic in the next article!