As an INFP (because you know I speak Myers-Briggs) I dwell in possibility: I love dreaming up new ideas, new projects. I am completely at home in the realm of what could be.
That means that compared to the limitless possibilities in my imagination, reality can be a real drag. In any given moment (or season), there are so many exciting things I could be doing, and so few things I actually am.
(If you can’t relate to this at all because you’re one of those foreign—and more common—types who has two feet planted firmly on the ground and focuses naturally on reality and not potential, I applaud you.)
This tension between what is and what could be is ever present.
This spring, I’ve been circling back to one question that’s kept me from spiraling into frustration (or flat-out losing my mind), and it is: what are my Big 3 right now?
There’s nothing magic about the number 3. I could certainly ask myself for my top 2, or 4, or 5. The magic isn’t in the answer; it’s in the question.
The question makes me reflect on what my life looks like right now: what are my responsibilities, what projects are on my plate? It prompts me to spell those out in my mind (or better yet, on paper), and then it forces me to prioritize them.
Before I stepped back and named my Big 3, I was constantly frustrated that I wasn’t getting all the important things done. I didn’t realize how many irons I had in the fire.
Listing out my Top 3 for this season was incredibly freeing. Why am I spending so much time on Project 1? It’s a priority right now. Why do I feel like I’m dropping the ball on Project 4? Because as much as I love and care about that project—as important as it is—it’s taking the back seat right now, and that’s okay. Why do I have zero time for Project 9? Well.
I keep my Big 3 to work-related tasks (the important Whole Life Stuff feels like a given), although it certainly doesn’t have to be that way. When we were in the throes of our kitchen remodel (still not done, but oh so close), construction-related tasks occupied a hefty percentage of my weekly schedule, loathe as I was to admit it. And my daily life certainly looks different in May and June, with four kids playing ball. While I may not want those calendar items to infringe on my working hours, they still do, and not facing it now will just make me tear my hair out later.
This little tip can’t work any miracles on my calendar or revolutionize my time management. But listing my Big 3 on a post-it and smacking it on my computer screen keeps me firmly grounded in reality. When I spell out what’s important right now, I don’t get so frustrated when I don’t have time for what’s not.
It’s a killer paradigm-shifter. And on a Monday morning, that feels like its own kind of miracle.