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T.E.A.M. Tuesday Articles 

Prioritizing the Basics

By Justin Simmons - Oct 24, 2023


2:30am-3:30am, this elusive hour seems to haunt my conscious mind on nights I’m restless or sleeping lightly. With eyes snapped open or clenched closed in hopes of falling back asleep, my brain has a tendency to enjoy a pleasant stroll around the block in reviewing all open items I could possibly entertain at that moment. The worst part is I tend to feed into it. I find myself getting excited about ideas, running through situational scenarios, and even entertaining the concept of starting the day right then and there. Inevitably I’ll find a way to convince myself that the day ahead is best served by more rest and eventually fall back to sleep.

Once I finally wake in the morning, my Apple Watch provides a report that plots my varying sleep stages throughout the night. This chart of peaks and valleys resembles the results of an EKG and always prompts me to wonder, how efficient am I actually sleeping and what impacts may it have. The science of sleep is amazing and will be left for future discussion but today I want to digress further on the topic to recognize the basics. How or what we prioritize throughout our day and even at night during our time for sleep is largely predicated on how our brain is wired.

We tend to focus on the things which excite or relax us. Sounds simple enough but what this means is we’re apt to disregard or ignore much of the mundane tasks that are required to be successful. If we wish to feel the fullness of excitement or the true calm of relaxation, we must focus on all task elements necessary to accomplish these goals.

The efforts required to see through our mission can appear tedious or even inefficient. This is a normal response as our brain doesn’t want us to waste energy on monotonous tasks. Instead, it would prefer minimum output for maximum input. The term ‘instant gratification’ sums up the concept but also provides relevance to why we foster such impatient tendencies.

Patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to prioritizing tasks. To consistently build upon the things that challenge us or fail to hold our interest will not be an easy feat. Regardless, we must focus even more on these items and find room in our agenda to execute them.

Consider the task of going to bed early. It can be enticing to stay up late watching more TV, playing video games, or getting caught up in a good book. The cost of doing so, however, could be a slow start to the morning and a sluggish attitude throughout the day. This would greatly impact a daily agenda and all priorities associated. When evaluating the basic decision to go to bed, we must respect the common practices of our routine to ensure we are optimizing the fullness of our day.

The days turn into weeks and sometimes these durations feel long and arduous. Months however turn into years and these timelines tend to fly by. If we don’t manage our daily schedule in a way that allows us to prioritize the simplest of tasks, we are setting ourselves up to fall short on larger, more complex goals. The success we create is earned each day as we commit to our accomplishments.

Commitment is the foundation of all promises, priorities, and goals. Oftentimes we lose sight of the fact that we only hurt ourselves when we short-change our process and skip steps to grow effectively. There will be days we miss our targets but it should feel foreign, not familiar. Recognizing we’re human and not perfect is an essential part of growth but we must use these imperfect moments to fuel our follow through. To miss today means to make up for it tomorrow and if possible, even add a little more to the agenda than typical. Just as muscle tissue rebuilds stronger, our will to succeed can be strengthened through setbacks.

The priorities we place on tasks are essentially an allocation of time based on importance. No priority should ever be deemed unimportant, the range should read from important to critically important. As we plot tasks along this x-axis, we want to be mindful of where to spend more or less time accordingly. This process can take some practice to get used to but as long as you're aware of the time spent doing anything, it will get easier to manage.

This article itself is intentionally abbreviated to demonstrate the concept. Getting to the point and establishing a simple context will serve its purpose. It may not provide earth-shattering new evidence but it will spark a point of recognition that accomplishes a goal. Evaluating our priorities is something we should do often. I’m hopeful this article reminds you of this concept while allowing for a quick read to move on to the next task. Not all of my articles allow for an expedited completion but today, you get a few minutes back. Now you get to decide what to do with these next few minutes. Are you ready to discover the power of your mindset? 

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