Put first things first

When I'm stressed, everything that's on my mind seems to rise to the same level of urgency. And having so many "urgent" to-dos, worries, next steps, and conversations on my mind is extremely stressful. The stress feels overwhelming and I can't decide what to do; this analysis paralysis means I get less accomplished, even though I need to be accomplishing more.

It's a vicious cycle, and I can feel myself getting pulled into it as the school year is about to begin and some projects at work are heating up. But I'm determined not to let it get the best of me.

"Put first things first" is the third of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Putting first things first means doing the most important things in life. It means being clear about your priorities and acting on them. While intended as an overarching (and extremely valuable) approach to life, I'm finding those four words to be helpful in the moment too.

When looking at a list of items that can't all possibly be accomplished today, if I say to myself, "I'm putting first things first" I can determine what's most important and do that.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I can ask, "Am I putting first things first?" and then readjust.

When I'm snapping at those around me, I can catch myself not putting first things first. I can apologize, engage in a meaningful way to show where my priorities are, and then get back on track.

Chances are your life is getting a bit busier as we head into a new season too. It'll be less stressful if you take time to put first things first.

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