How To Plan Your Priorities Better Now To Avoid An Emergency Later

Things You Can Do To Prevent Unnecessary Stress or Overwhelm

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where something became urgent because of poor planning?

It could have been meeting a deadline, starting a new project or achieving a particular goal? Think back to how you dealt with the situation.

What emotions did you experience? Maybe you:

  • Felt frustrated or angry with yourself or someone else.
  • Experienced an emotional breakdown.
  • Felt stressed and under pressure.
  • Found yourself with low levels of motivation.
  • Wanted to be left alone.

Any noteworthy achievement will require a certain level of preparation and planning, otherwise we will take a “see how it goes” or a “hit and miss” approach.


Being busy is the norm today. Like anything, it has both positive and negative consequences. While being busy can be a sign of making forward progress, it can also be a symptom of health and relationship challenges.

A number of years ago, I used being very busy as an excuse not to focus on my physical health. The busier I allowed myself to get, the less attention I placed on my physical well-being. The end result was my weight increased by almost 20 kg (around 44 pounds), which affected my ability to focus and my physical stamina.

That also resulted in me being less productive and effective, which meant the things I was working on too much longer to complete. That generated unnecessary stress and frustration, which continued for months. Once I started planning my priorities better and got committed to taking care of my physical health again, I started becoming more effective again.

Not surprisingly, things didn’t take as long to complete compared to when I was not taking care of myself physically. I also found my mental and emotional states were a lot better.

Being able to plan our priorities better will help us make progress without a lot of stress and it will cause us to achieve our goals faster. Here are five ways how we can plan our priorities better now so we can avoid emergencies later on.

  1. Clarify your priorities. It’s hard to plan our priorities if we don’t know what they are. The first step is get clear on what’s important to us. Say for example, we had a work-related commitment and a family commitment at the same time — if we’re not clear on what takes priority, that can cause indecision that will affect not just our mental and emotional states, but it will also have an effect on the people in our lives. Being clear on our priorities is a critical step in know what to focus on and how to plan to achieve the outcomes we want.
  2. Set clear boundaries. We always have a choice in what we commit to in life. When we overcommit, we find ourselves with conflicting priorities, which if not addressed, can create issues later on. Clear boundaries eliminates confusion. Examples of boundaries include defining how much time to dedicate to work or family, and what we will or will not say “yes” to on weekends. Boundaries make it easier to make right decisions.
  3. Manage your calendar better. Once we lose sight of our daily schedule and tasks, it’s very easy to get off track and fall behind, either on important projects or just getting tasks completed. There are a number of techniques or strategies available to help us complete tasks. The key is to choose one that works for us because everyone works differently. The main thing is to have a system for managing our priorities daily.
  4. Have a regular review practice. Things often don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s because we did not do something and sometimes it could be due to external influences. One of the best ways to readjust and refocus is to review what worked and what did not work on a regular basis. Having this as a daily discipline is a great practice to develop. As a minimum, we should consider doing this on a weekly basis.
  5. Be comfortable saying “no” more often. We tend to get into trouble when we say “yes” to new requests when we really want to say “no.” While there may be various reasons why we say “yes,” learning to say “no” more often will eliminate overcommitment and reduce our chances of feeling overwhelmed or under pressure.

The better we plan our priorities in life, the faster we will accomplish our objectives. If we allow external conditions or circumstances to determine what we give our attention to, then we will find ourselves dealing with lots of urgent demands and emergencies. Our focus should always be on what’s most important to us and those that matter to us.

Action Step: Take some time this week and reflect on how you are coping with the demands placed on you. Are you managing them well? What can you do differently or better so that you manage your priorities a lot better?

Question: What is another thing we can do to manage our priorities better?

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