Priorities

When I first arrived back from Africa and spent my days in quarantine in a hotel, I was very deeply wrapped up in overwhelm. All this free time lay ahead, but so many things to fill it with! I had new businesses to work on, my storage to tackle at long last, my photo storybook project! But there were also priorities! I needed to work through the stages of my welfare claim, find a place to live, get my car back from my family, call people to continue a sense of connection and reassure everyone I was ok. I had travel insurance claims to deal with. On and on the list went, partly started with the list I began at New Year, but a few new things, more urgent things on the list as well. And I. Just. Couldn’t. Cope.

One day I had a bright idea. I had a notebook, and no tape but aha! Bandage tape from my first aid kit. I had just returned with only my backpack, after all.  I found a Sharpie permanent marker as well. I tore out several pages from my notebook and in Sharpie wrote headings on each note. Job. Income. Car. Home. Africa. Photobook. Storage…. Without a printer, I took my consolidated list from December and I wrote it out on paper, heading after heading. Next, I peeled small pieces of bandage tape and stuck these notes to the wall – but wait, in a really good way. What were the highest priorities? I put them in a row at the top. Job. Income. Home. Car. Second row, less priority but important – Africa, health checks. Then over one side, also up high, my entrepreneur projects – an important box in their own right. Another side, my storage, photobooks, an afterthought almost. There were no tasks listed, just all my thoughts and worries, splayed out across the wall in priority order. Better yet, they were on the wall opposite the couch and dining set, in the hotel, so they were there to look at all day long.

As the days passed by, I pulled off one page at a time and used it to write down all my actions and notes related to that topic. Home? On that page went my research and options for where I would live. Actions to take in meeting property managers, what they said, options regarding share-housing again. Then, utility notes and bank information as I locked in an apartment and moved in. I took another page down. Car. I researched how I would get my car back from Adelaide, given the changing situation, it turned out there is no real way to get my car back yet, except by truck, and when it was revealed the car space in my new place is an additional cost, I moved the car project down a level. Not a priority right now, it was safer and cheaper staying with family while I continued to live close to public transport. I didn’t need it yet and it was a good way to save money. And so, on it went, page after page coming down as I made notes, either actions copied from my master list of a few months ago, or new research being jotted down. Not all have been filled in, but that just shows me how low priority they are right now.

Right now. Here we are a few weeks later, and I’ve done so many actions that some are ready to be taken down. Which is a big wow for me. I’m great at starting things, getting overwhelmed and not completing them. So this is really motivating. I had to share my strategy though, I’m so pumped with how it’s been working out for me. Here I am in my new house, halfway through move in, but with the papers still stuck on the walls in my new office, for me to gaze at and plan and mull over. Some new ones have gone up. It’s feeling pretty great. The only thing is that the overwhelm is still there… with high priorities tackled, where do I even start on the lesser ones? How do I create a good routine? I’m thinking about getting a life coach, because with my background, I need every bit of help and accountability I can get.

In this age of lockdowns and quarantines, what are you doing to keep your planning and actions on track?

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