THE BLOG
12/07/2015 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2016

7 Areas of Life That Should Be Prioritized

Getty Images

I had the privilege of interviewing Jay Papasan, co-author of the New York Times Bestseller The One Thing. The idea behind the book is simple. By doing less, you achieve more.

During this interview, Jay provides insight into how he prioritizes his ultra-busy life while achieving balance. He explains how Pareto's 80/20 principle is distilled down to only the most essential items that should be prioritized.

Jay suggests, "Identify the one thing in each area of your life that matters most." These things can be identified by asking a single question. What's the one thing you can do this day/week/year such that by doing it everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?

This fundamental question can be applied to every area of life. The actionable takeaway is that we must be intentional about narrowing things down to a single action.

The challenge comes when multiple areas of your life carry significant importance. Prioritizing them can be like trying to juggle seven balls simultaneously. Jay's response is that while there is and always will be more than one thing- "...at any moment in time you can only have one thing."

Out of that idea came the model they developed for how to prioritize multiple areas of your life. Here are Jay's recommendations.

1) Spiritual Life
2) Physical Health
3) Personal Life
4) Relationships
5) Job
6) Business
7) Finances

1. Spirituality must be a priority.
This is significant because if you don't know why you're here, there is not any bigger question to ask. Understanding your purpose is a foundational priority that everything else should be built upon.

For Jay and his family, their priority is expressing gratitude on a daily basis. They have established a pattern of doing this every evening around their dinner table.

While this is a seemingly simple practice, the implications of its consistency can yield extremely positive results.

2. Maintain good physical health.
In the interview, Jay mentions that Gary Keller's philosophy is this: "If you don't take care of your body, where are you going to live?"

Jay points out that it's easier to form tough habits early in the morning. So he makes a habit of prioritizing exercise during the earliest part of his day. Exercise performed as part of your morning routine provides the energy to sustain you throughout a busy day.

It's no secret that exercising can have a positive impact on other areas of life. In fact, an article published by Mayo Clinic proves what most of us already know.

Prioritize exercise and everything else becomes that much easier.

3. Take care of yourself.
With Jay's background in real estate, he has witnessed countless people who prioritized others ahead of themselves. Clients came first. Family came first. Events came first. The list goes on.

Everyone needs "me" time. The reality is that if you do not take the time to make yourself a priority, you are not giving others the best "you" that you have to offer.

Take care of yourself first so that taking care of others is easier.

4. Nurture relationships.
The idea of nurturing relationships is universal, married or single. Jay and his wife are intentional about creating time to spend with each other and working on building their relationship.

Life has a way of interfering with relationships. Whether it's a relationship with a friend, a family member, or a loved one, it's critical to carve out time and space to nurture it.

Two tips that Jay mentions are centered around establishing a weekly date night. Jay and his wife established Wednesday evenings as their special time.

Tip #1 Babysitters are easier to find on Wednesday evenings
Tip #2 Restaurant reservations are easier to make on Wednesday evenings

While dating mid-week may seem unorthodox, it works for them. Make every effort to prioritize the relationships that matter most to you. After all, it is because of their shared sacrifice, you have the opportunities that you do.

Ironically, the following three areas are lowest on the priority list.
5. Job
6. Business
7. Finances

The recommended order may seem counter-intuitive, given the fact that most people will begin with these three areas. Jay, among many others, has shown the reverse logic to be true.

Determine the one thing in each area of your life that matters most. Narrow down the specific action you can take this day/week/year such that by doing it everything else becomes easier or unnecessary. Finally, get busy!

Many thanks to Jay Papasan, for providing us with a successful model that we can follow to prioritize our very busy lives.

What order of priorities do you find work best for you?