How to Set Daily Priorities + a FREE Worksheet

Urgent vs. Important table, productivity and efficience, how to set priorities, delegate, plan - The Bliss Bean 2

Important vs. urgent (trust me, they’re not the same)

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important” - Stephen Covey

I’d never thought much about the difference between something that is “important” and something that is “urgent”. If you’d handed me an assignment and told me it was “urgent”, my ears would hear “do this important thing NOW!”.

Then I read a book called 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. I know, I know, the title is super cheesy (the cover, which features a pair of headphones hanging out of a jean pocket, is even cheesier). Bear with me here.

7 Habit of Highly Effective Teens is a spinoff of the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I haven’t read the original so I can’t tell you what sort of exclusive information is offered only in the teen version or what they’re withholding from us younger folk until we grow up. All I can tell you is, the “7 Habits” are gold and you should read (a version of) this book.

What changed my view of “urgent vs. important” was habit #3 - “Put First Things First”. The chapter featured a table with four simple squares. The top was labeled “urgent” and “non-urgent”, and the left side was labeled “important” and “non-important”. The premise was that every single task could be sorted into one of these four quadrants. Already, I was blown away. How could something urgent be unimportant? Didn’t a looming deadline inherently make something important?

Urgent vs. Important table, productivity and efficience, how to set priorities, delegate, plan - The Bliss Bean

I looked through the examples of each category, continued reading the chapter, and everything slowly clicked into place. What I learned is this - it is up to you to manage your time. You have a certain number of hours in the day and you must decide where you’ll allocate those precious 24.

Obviously, you don’t want to be in the “non-urgent, unimportant” sector, fiddling away on Instagram and binging Netflix all day.

You also don’t want to be trapped in the “urgent, important” sector. You might be getting important things done, but you’ll live your life in a constant race against the clock, reacting to everything as it is thrown at you.

And the “urgent, non-important sector”? This is the time that’s swallowed up by useless meetings, busywork assignments, and shallow conversations. You’ll need a large heaping of self-advocacy and a pinch of the word “no” to get out of it.

Urgent vs. Important table, productivity and efficience, how to set priorities, delegate, plan - The Bliss Bean 3

The sweet spot? The golden sector? The almighty quadrant? The only one left: “Non-urgent, important”. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the most difficult sector to achieve. It takes self-discipline, self-advocacy, and careful planning to keep yourself firmly planted here. But trust me, it’s worth it. This is the place from which you can achieve your long-term goals, build some balance into your life, develop your relationships, etc. etc. All the good stuff.

So what is the key to achieving life in this sector? Prioritizing.

Bam. Blog post over. Secret to life revealed.

Just kidding, it’s not that easy. Prioritizing takes time and too often we let it fall by the wayside. Our to-do list is already long enough, so why add another item to it? “Prioritize to-do list”. It’s also difficult to do - feelings of guilt and false obligation keep us tied down to the wrong things.

But you must push through that discomfort and prioritize that monster of a to-do list. Because if you don’t, you’ll have no clear plan, no clear priorities, and you’ll pour your energy into whatever to-do catches your eye first. You’ll allow deadlines to creep up until you’re left with no choice but to shove everything aside to meet them.

When you set priorities, however, you ensure that the most important parts of your life won’t get left behind. You accept responsibility for creating the life you want.

Urgent vs. Important table, productivity and efficience, how to set priorities, delegate, plan, free worksheet - The Bliss Bean

When should you prioritize?

Prioritizing is a practice you need to apply to your entire life on the macro scale by saying no to commitments, spending more time with loved ones, etc. But that’s enough for a whole ‘nother blog post.

For now, let’s zoom into a much more manageable unit of time - a day. In order to make the most of each and every day, you have to define what is most important each morning. Three is a good number. If you choose three, well-defined, important tasks to focus on each day, you will move towards the life you dream of living.

How do you prioritize?

So how do you set priorities? Ask yourself these questions to help you decide.

What aligns most closely with your goals?

Long-term goals are a difficult beast to tackle simply because there’s low accountability. There’s no one at your back reminding you to get going on them and usually there’s no imminent consequence for not making moves towards them.

When choosing which tasks to prioritize, consider not only what needs to get done in the short-term, but make sure to prioritize at least one item that your future self will thank you for doing.

What will make everything else easier?

Perhaps you need to spend some time planning a content calendar for your blog. It’s a big task and you’d rather do something simpler and more immediate - writing next week’s blog post. But with no plan for the month, you have no idea what to write about, how to connect the content to your previous blog posts. You feel lost.

If you invest some time into planning, everything else will go much more smoothly and quickly. It’ll be easier to plan your social media calendar, you’ll know exactly what to write, you’ll feel more organized and motivated.

What prioritizes your own progress and happiness?

It’s important to spend time on our relationships and on doing kind things for others, but too often we fall into guilt traps and end up doing things for other people that are neither our responsibility nor a good use of our time.

Before you ask yourself what others want you to do, ask yourself what you can do for your own success.

The gist of it is: prioritize what is important and non-urgent, and the rest of your life will fall into place.

Tips for success

  1. Keep a list and a pen next to you to record little to-dos that pop into your head and threaten to ruin your workflow. You can continue working on your priorities and get to all of those little tasks sometime later in the day in one swift go.

  2. Highlight these priorities on your to-do list and make sure it’s close at hand the entire day. Setting priorities won’t be any help if you forget about them and turn to busywork instead.

  3. Schedule the priorities for the most high-energy times of the day. If you’re an early riser like me and you fill your morning with responding to e-mails and checking social media, you’ll find yourself wanting a nap right about when you need to tackle your most exhausting (yet important) tasks. Instead, schedule your priorities during high-energy periods.


To help you set your own “daily 3” I created this simple daily planner. There’s a full-page version as well as a half-sheet. Use it to remind you of the criteria against which to judge your to-do list and then write your priorities in the space provided. Let me know how it works for you!

And for today’s question, let’s put this blog post into practice! What are YOUR 3 priorities for today?

How I Planned for 2019 | My word for the year, goals, and vision

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A few days ago I shared my word for the year on Instagram and gave a little peek into my yearly planning process. A few of you mentioned that you’d like to see a longer blog post on what exactly I did during those hours I spent staring at piles of notebooks and writing, writing, writing (I promise, there was more to it than that, haha).

I knew that I wanted to sit down and do some deep thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the New Year, and with a glorious two weeks off of school for Winter Break, I actually had a lot of time to do this.

Reviewing 2018

The first thing I did was I reviewed how 2018 went for me, month by month. I used my planner, journal, and Google Photos to help me write about each month’s accomplishments, challenges, and memories. I won’t share it all (trust me, it’s not that interesting), but these are some of the key patterns I noticed.

  • The first few months of the year were very busy and quite overwhelming. I was involved in a lot of things at school and struggled to manage it all.

  • April was the craziest month of the year, but also a very rewarding one. I completed some very big projects and started others, like practicing portrait photography and starting my YouTube channel!

  • I had a busy summer working on my blog and photography, which helped me to clarify how I wanted to spend my senior year and made the transition back to school a little easier. During first quarter, I dropped two classes and found it easier to say “no”.

  • The last few months of the year were probably the smoothest of the year. I settled into a rhythm with my new planning system, minimized the amount of time I spent on schoolwork, and had more time to spend with friends and family.

To cap off this review of 2018, I also put together a video featuring photos and videos of my 2018 memories! It’s a sort of highlight reel, a time capsule, if you will, that captures my entire year in a few short minutes.

My word for the year

It was finally time to look ahead to 2019.

Last year I picked a word for the year - “action” and let the phrase “err on the side of action” guide me.

After seeing all of the unnecessary stress that I experienced at the beginning of 2018, and how much it helped to minimize my commitments, say “no” more often, and streamline my routines, I settled on a word for 2019 pretty easily.

Simplify.

I wanted to continue this pattern of making life simpler for myself so that I could pour more focus into the things that mattered most.

My vision for the year

After I had my word picked out, I repeated the same process I did last year. I free-wrote on different aspects of my life and described how I wanted them to look in the coming year. I wrote in the present tense because when you visualize something, you should act as if it is already set and done!

Click to tweet: When you visualize something, you should act as if it is already set and done!

The categories I used were: health and fitness, intellectual life, emotional life, character, spiritual life, love/relationships, social, financial life, school and extracurriculars, blogging, and quality of life.

I’ll just share one of the categories to give you an example of what this looked like.

“Intellectual life: In 2019, I carve out time to read books because they are relaxing and enlightening. I listen to podcasts as a convenient way to keep myself entertained and educated even when on the go. I share and discuss what I learn to cement the knowledge.”

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Filling out the Artist of Life Workbook

I wasn’t expecting to receive the Lavendare Artist of Life Workbook for Christmas but then there it was under the tree, in all of its pretty, mint blue, leather-bound, gold-stamped glory! I was so excited to fill it out, and even though I had already done a lot of the exercises on my own, it was still valuable to clarify and re-state the things I’d written.

I wrote about my theme for the year (reminder: simplify!), what I could do to live my theme, how I wanted to feel, what I wanted to invite into my life, and what I wanted to let go of in 2019.

I put together a vision board (and set it as my computer’s wallpaper) and did the current me vs. future me exercise, in which you draw and write how you look, feel, think, and act currently, and how you want to look, feel, think, and act exactly a year from now.

To clarify, I don’t expect this year will cause all of my hair to turn gray at the premature age of 18, I just want to dye my hair a grayish, ashy blonde color, haha.

There were a few more pages and exercises after that: defining your values, evaluating your mindset, writing a mantra, committing to self care, designing habits, etc. You’ll have to buy the book yourself if you want to know about all of the useful things that this book is chock-full of ;)

Not gonna lie, it took a long time to fill everything out and it got very tiring at some points, but it was so worth it. The process really motivated me to make the most of the New Year.

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Goals

Finally, there was a long section on goals, appropriately titled “2019 goals af”. So without further ado, my goals for 2019!

  1. Sell as many of my belongings as I can - in order to have less stuff weighing me down and to make money for my gap year.

  2. Start running in the morning - to enjoy the outdoors, get in some exercise before the school day, and feel energized before the day even starts.

  3. Start earning an income from my blog - to get myself on the road to making a career out of content creation.

  4. Write an e-book - to earn money and get practice creating marketable content.

  5. Reach 15K on Instagram - to push myself to create better content and engage more, and to expand my influence.

  6. Reach 5K on YouTube - ditto!

  7. Be able to converse in Spanish and Korean - to be able to communicate with more people in my travels, to understand the world better.

  8. Win 1st place at FBLA Nationals - to prove my abilities in the field of graphic design, and, let’s be honest, to win the cash prize.

  9. Go on my gap year - to discover myself and see the world.

I liked that in addition to your 2019 goals, there were separate pages and prompts for different aspects of your life: health, relationships, career, personal growth, creative, spiritual, home, money, adventure, and ULTIMATE LIFE GOALS (I feel like that has to be written in all-caps, don’t you think?) Here is a summary of what I wrote about for each goal category:

Health - Have freedom from food/exercise guilt, exercise at least four times a week, look for healthy options when possible (but not worry too much), and start running outside in the morning once it gets warm.

Relationships - Do something with friends at least once a week, call parents at least once a week while on my gap year, celebrate each friend’s birthday with a handmade card and thoughtful gift.

Career goals - Start earning an income from my blog, be more active on social media, stop wasting time on insignificant tasks, and put more effort into my videos.

Personal growth - Take a self-defense class, brush up on my Spanish skills, learn Korean.

Creative - Create beautiful travel videos of my gap year adventures, push myself in photography.

Spiritual - Do things that make me happy, like journaling, meditating, going on walks, spending time outside, and trying new things.

Home - Declutter my closet and my room and sell things.

Money - Save money for my gap year, be on top of tracking where my money goes, and start doing photography again.

Adventure - Visit Lithuania, Spain, Hungary, China, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, etc… basically my gap year!


Whew, that was a long post! I left out a lot because 1. I don’t want to put you to sleep 2. It’s kind of scary to write about this stuff! These are my goals and dreams and it’s nerve-racking to put them out there for the world to see. But, accountability, right? Hopefully having you in on it will help me to achieve all of this.

I’m so excited for everything that 2019 has in store. Let’s make this our best year ever!

What is your word for the year? And/or your biggest goal for 2019?

With love,
Beatrice x