As Rivka Levy points out in The Relationship Priorities Matrix, “One of the biggest causes of stress is when we end up putting people who are low-priority ahead of those who should be top priority. Take that needy friend who is on the phone tying up your time and attention for hours while your kids start going bananas because you didn’t manage to get supper on the table, help them with their homework or maybe, even just say ‘hi’ to them and spend 5 minutes catching up on their day at school…”
Think about your relationship priorities matrix and prioritise your time and attention accordingly.
Typical relationship priority matrix for a couple with children is provided below.
“The idea behind it is pretty simple. The lower the number, the higher the priority. And if you’re spending a bunch of time and energy on people who are in the outer rings – at the expense of people who are in your ‘inner circles’ – then that for sure is going to be causing you some massive stress. And it may well be time to rethink what’s going on…”
What is your relationship priorities matrix and how do you prioritise your time?
I grew up under the despotic rule of cleanies. Everything was supposed to be pristine, tidy and clean 24 hours a day 7 days a week just in case a neighbour or a friend would come for a visit unexpectedly. There was no time or space left for life, smiles or laughter. Everything was completely cleaned out. Expected unexpected neighbours and visitors never came either…
It did not take long for me to realise that the only way of keeping the house clean was by banning from entering the house anybody genetically related to that side of the family (including my own children). Hm, that was not a good solution, was it?
After a while we worked out the threshold of messiness that our family can tolerate with the whole family sharing efforts in keeping the house somewhere above that threshold. Our house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy, with lots of games, giggles and fun. 🙂
If you have some super neat freaks in your family, give them a hug and point out to them that:
Alexander Flemingwas teased by colleagues for his disorderly desk. He kept everything – notes, slides, test tubes – in case he had a new idea or noticed a change. He was clearing his desk in 1928 when a dot of mould in an old petri dish led to his discovery of penicillin. May be, your clutter will lead to a world-changing discovery too?
But look at tidy people in history and who do you see? Dictators, secret policemen and oppressors. Hitler was known for his love of neatness and order; Mussolini kept an immaculately tidy desk. Saddam Hussein’s guards have told of the former Iraqi dictator’s obsession with cleanliness – he washed his hands after every handshake.
Besides, what if burglars break into your house? Surely, you would not want to make it too easy for them. 😉
If you are a neat freak living in a messy household, don’t despair. Ignoring the problem won’t work. You’ll need to face it honestly, but respectfully.
Instead of constantly nagging about everything that needs to be done, identify the chores that are most important to you. For example, if you are most concerned with the living room looking presentable, ask for your spouse’s help in keeping the room clear of shoes, clothes, junk mail, etc. Don’t forget to explain why 😉
Go easy on yourself and your family. Take an objective step back and ask if your average guest would really notice that the baseboards haven’t been dusted recently.
Don’t forget to enjoy life. Allow yourself to relax with your spouse or get out and do something fun. Looking back on their younger years, few people will say, “If only I had spent more time cleaning.” 😉
And don’t worry if you never have that amazing feeling when you got to bed knowing your entire house is super-clean. Neither do I 😉
What do you see When you look at me? Asked the husband of one, And father of three. Do you see a good husband? The love of a Dad? Or grey hair, And wrinkles, And fun times not had? Or a man in a shirt And a tie and a suit, Who’s cold blooded and vengeful In his hot pursuit, Of a spot at the top, And a big leather chair, Leaving no time for family, Though their picture will stare Back at him daily, From its bright silver frame, As it sits on his desk, By the plaque with his name. The picture grows old, And the children do too, And the wife grows more distant, The marriage is through, As he’s married to work, Not his wife and his kids, And his love of his work, Means he gradually bids Farewell to the things In life that he should love. Less responsive to family, Than calls from above. But he thinks that he does it To make things at home better, He thinks that each phone call, Each meeting, each letter, Are helping his prospects of A better job, And that each increased pay cheque Will help him to bob, In a tide of big bills And of school fees and fares. And as he works on, He does so unaware, That the more that he tries, To help those back at home, The more likely he is, To end up alone. He awakes from his daydream, This man in a suit, Considering life, As he made the commute, From his workplace to home, And as he arrives, He makes a decision, And with gusto decides, That his wife and his kids Are important to him, And with less pay it might be A bit harder to swim, In the huge tide of bills, But what does he care If it means that his loved ones, Know that he’s there. Knows that he loves them, And love him in return, They’ll love him regardless Of how much he earns. And so from that day, He determines that he Will be a husband of one, And a father of three, Not a man in a suit And a shirt and a tie, That’s just Monday to Friday But the rest of the time, He’ll devote to his loved ones, Now he’s home with a smile, And he cuddles his wife, For the first time in a while. She knows that he’s changed Though he says not a word And from that day forever, His family come first.
“ ‘Busy’ has become the new ‘Fine’. As in, when you ask somebody how they were doing, they used to answer, ‘Fine.’ But nowadays, everybody answers, ‘Busy.’
Seemingly, busy has become the default state for too many of our lives.
But is the state of busy really improving our lives? Certainly not. Statistics indicate 75% of parents are too busy to read to their children at night. There is a rising number of children being placed in day cares and after-school activities. Americans are having a hard time finding opportunity for vacations these days. 33% of Americans are living with extreme stress daily. And nearly 50% of Americans say they regularly lie awake at night because of stress. This is a problem. We have become too busy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Busy is not inevitable. Each of us can take intentional steps to unbusy our lives.
Consider this Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy:
1. Realize that being busy is a choice. It is a decision we make. We are never forced into a lifestyle of busyness. The first, and most important, step to becoming less busy is to simply realize that our schedules are determined by us. We do have a choice in the matter. We don’t have to live busy lives.
2. Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy.
3. Appreciate and schedule rest. One of the reasons many of us keep busy schedules is we fail to recognize the value of rest. But rest is beneficial to our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Set aside one day per week for rest and family. Intentionally schedule it on your calendar. Then, guard it at all costs.
4. Revisit your priorities. Become more intentional with your priorities and pursuits in life. Determine again what are the most significant contributions you can offer this world. And schedule your time around those first. Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities.
5. Own fewer possessions. The things we own take up far more time and mental energy than we realize. They need to be cleaned, organized, and maintained. And the more we own, the more time is required. Own less stuff. And find more time because of it.
6. Cultivate space in your daily routine. Take time for lunch. Find space in your morning to sit quietly before starting your day. Invest in solitude, meditation, or yoga. Find opportunity for breaks at work in between projects. Begin right away cultivating little moments of space and margin in your otherwise busy day.
7. Find freedom in the word, “no.” Seneca wrote, “Everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is preoccupied with many things.” Recognize the inherent value in the word “no.” Learning to say “no” to less important commitments opens your life to pursue the most important.
Busy does not need to define you. Unbusy is possible. It’s okay to be happy with a calm life. And doesn’t that sound wonderful right about now?”
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..
‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.