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Thinking about what really matters

Prioritize What Really Matters

May 16, 20244 min read

Nothing is more deflating than being really busy—wearing your busy badge—and also feeling as if you aren’t making any progress. 

You might be giving it your all, yet work is still seeping into your personal time, projects are taking forever, progress is coming too slowly, and you’re feeling stuck. 

Or you might be doing “fine” but feeling as if you’re accomplishing little and not moving forward as much as you’d like on your goals. 

We all have an optimal capacity for how much we can reasonably handle, and when we consistently exceed it, we feel overwhelmed and experience diminishing returns from our efforts. 

Something has to give.

When you already have so much on your plate, saying no to some things can feel a bit scary or impossible. But there is always somewhere you can say no and always a trade-off. 

It will take some time upfront to prioritize and think through what needs to give, especially if you haven’t been doing this and are overloaded.

Once you do, you’ll more quickly accomplish what’s truly important, waste less time on what doesn’t matter, and feel more in control of your days. 

It can then become a regular exercise that helps you stay on course. You can continually check in on your priorities and the to-dos that matter and let go of what matters less. 

It feels way better than trying to do it all and being overwhelmed all the time. 

To make this leap, you have to give yourself permission to do less.

If you want to perform at your highest level and be more present and enjoy your life—to operate at a more reasonable pace—this is a necessary step. 

BUT it’s not just about taking things off your plate—it’s about making sure you have room for your true priorities. 

Too often, people say no to the wrong things or don’t make room for what moves the needle or for the people who matter.  

You may have heard the “big rocks, small rocks, and sand” analogy. 

If life is a jar, then the big rocks are the most important aspects of it, such as family, health, and where you contribute the highest value in your work, the smaller rocks represent other important but less-critical aspects, and the sand signifies the smallest details and everyday tasks. 

If you fill your jar with sand first, there’s no room for the big rocks.

But if you put in the big rocks first, then the small rocks and the sand can fit between them (and some of the small rocks and sand will have to go). 

We must put the big rocks in first! 

When I stopped overworking a few years ago, was honest about my capacity, and started focusing on my true priorities–my family, where I added the highest value in my work, and taking better care of myself, I had to step back from a few projects and let others handle them. 

This wasn’t easy (I still felt that I had to be on a project, or that I could do it better than someone else), but fewer projects meant fewer meetings and fewer emails.

It was easier to step off some projects or say no to some tasks rather than continue trying to do it all and feeling overwhelmed every single day. 

This created space for me to focus on what was more important.

It all started with a boundary around my work time, which forced me to prioritize better and create space for what mattered more. The jar is like your boundary.

Even today, I am constantly checking in to ensure I am focused on the right things and letting go of tasks that even though are good, I maybe don’t have the capacity.

It’s time to give yourself permission to do less. And start to prioritize what matters more.

When we feel less overwhelmed and focus on the right things (not all the things), we perform even better and can enjoy our days so much more.

What is one thing you can do this week to focus on a true priority—a big rock—in your work, personal life, and for yourself?

What do you need to care about less to free up some space for what matters more?

Remember, something has to give.

Stacey L. Olson

A special reminder: my book, Your Balanced and Bold Life: Work Less, Live More, and Be Your Best, is available for sale on Amazon.

This book is the result of months and, really, years of thought, effort, and care to create something life-changing and help you be happier, balanced, and successful—whatever that looks like for YOU.

Available here!

Stacey Olson Author Balanced and Bold Life
Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Positive Psychology Certified Coach and has more than 15 years of corporate experience. She works with leaders and professionals at all levels, many of who have the daily juggle of work, kids and rest of life -- all the things -- helping them to create more balance and less stress without sacrificing their performance.

Stacey L. Olson

Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Positive Psychology Certified Coach and has more than 15 years of corporate experience. She works with leaders and professionals at all levels, many of who have the daily juggle of work, kids and rest of life -- all the things -- helping them to create more balance and less stress without sacrificing their performance.

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Thinking about what really matters

Prioritize What Really Matters

May 16, 20244 min read

Nothing is more deflating than being really busy—wearing your busy badge—and also feeling as if you aren’t making any progress. 

You might be giving it your all, yet work is still seeping into your personal time, projects are taking forever, progress is coming too slowly, and you’re feeling stuck. 

Or you might be doing “fine” but feeling as if you’re accomplishing little and not moving forward as much as you’d like on your goals. 

We all have an optimal capacity for how much we can reasonably handle, and when we consistently exceed it, we feel overwhelmed and experience diminishing returns from our efforts. 

Something has to give.

When you already have so much on your plate, saying no to some things can feel a bit scary or impossible. But there is always somewhere you can say no and always a trade-off. 

It will take some time upfront to prioritize and think through what needs to give, especially if you haven’t been doing this and are overloaded.

Once you do, you’ll more quickly accomplish what’s truly important, waste less time on what doesn’t matter, and feel more in control of your days. 

It can then become a regular exercise that helps you stay on course. You can continually check in on your priorities and the to-dos that matter and let go of what matters less. 

It feels way better than trying to do it all and being overwhelmed all the time. 

To make this leap, you have to give yourself permission to do less.

If you want to perform at your highest level and be more present and enjoy your life—to operate at a more reasonable pace—this is a necessary step. 

BUT it’s not just about taking things off your plate—it’s about making sure you have room for your true priorities. 

Too often, people say no to the wrong things or don’t make room for what moves the needle or for the people who matter.  

You may have heard the “big rocks, small rocks, and sand” analogy. 

If life is a jar, then the big rocks are the most important aspects of it, such as family, health, and where you contribute the highest value in your work, the smaller rocks represent other important but less-critical aspects, and the sand signifies the smallest details and everyday tasks. 

If you fill your jar with sand first, there’s no room for the big rocks.

But if you put in the big rocks first, then the small rocks and the sand can fit between them (and some of the small rocks and sand will have to go). 

We must put the big rocks in first! 

When I stopped overworking a few years ago, was honest about my capacity, and started focusing on my true priorities–my family, where I added the highest value in my work, and taking better care of myself, I had to step back from a few projects and let others handle them. 

This wasn’t easy (I still felt that I had to be on a project, or that I could do it better than someone else), but fewer projects meant fewer meetings and fewer emails.

It was easier to step off some projects or say no to some tasks rather than continue trying to do it all and feeling overwhelmed every single day. 

This created space for me to focus on what was more important.

It all started with a boundary around my work time, which forced me to prioritize better and create space for what mattered more. The jar is like your boundary.

Even today, I am constantly checking in to ensure I am focused on the right things and letting go of tasks that even though are good, I maybe don’t have the capacity.

It’s time to give yourself permission to do less. And start to prioritize what matters more.

When we feel less overwhelmed and focus on the right things (not all the things), we perform even better and can enjoy our days so much more.

What is one thing you can do this week to focus on a true priority—a big rock—in your work, personal life, and for yourself?

What do you need to care about less to free up some space for what matters more?

Remember, something has to give.

Stacey L. Olson

A special reminder: my book, Your Balanced and Bold Life: Work Less, Live More, and Be Your Best, is available for sale on Amazon.

This book is the result of months and, really, years of thought, effort, and care to create something life-changing and help you be happier, balanced, and successful—whatever that looks like for YOU.

Available here!

Stacey Olson Author Balanced and Bold Life
Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Positive Psychology Certified Coach and has more than 15 years of corporate experience. She works with leaders and professionals at all levels, many of who have the daily juggle of work, kids and rest of life -- all the things -- helping them to create more balance and less stress without sacrificing their performance.

Stacey L. Olson

Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Positive Psychology Certified Coach and has more than 15 years of corporate experience. She works with leaders and professionals at all levels, many of who have the daily juggle of work, kids and rest of life -- all the things -- helping them to create more balance and less stress without sacrificing their performance.

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