How To Put “First Things First” – And Reclaim The Life You Love

August 15, 2011 · 37 comments

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I have a confession to make, I usually switch my computer on within 10 minutes of waking. Somewhere between a trip to the bathroom and putting the kettle on to boil, I’ll have hit the power key. I always feel a tinge of guilt that I’ve been unable to hold off until I’ve at least taken a shower, eaten breakfast, brushed my teeth, done some meditation and gone for (cough) a run.

I wake up and my mind is immediately engaged with the online world, despite the fact my physical body and spiritual self, has yet to be nurtured in any way.

The pang of shame I feel in routinely connecting to a source of energy outside myself immediately on waking, is evidence that I am out of integrity; and there is room for improvement in this area of my life.

Before you roll your eyes in disgust, I know I’m not the only person for whom their laptop, netbook, desktop or iPad is like an extension of themselves. If you have all of these; alongside an iPhone, blackberry or other android phone. You have my sympathies.

The wonderful Lori Gosselin at ‘Life, For Instance’, recently wrote a post called “Do you observe day a of rest“, and I had to hang my head down low and admit –  I do not. For all the freedom and flexibility of living in Bali, being self employed and totally self governing. I still experience the paralysis of technology!

To be clear, I love this blog, I mean I LOVE IT!

I love the people I connect with as a result of it and through my interactions on Twitter and Facebook, but MLSM is NOT the most valuable thing in my life.

I am…

And sometimes in my commitment to this blog and the relationships I’m building via this powerful medium, I forget that and experience separation/guilt/anxiety, if I’m late replying to comments and not getting out and about on other blogs often or quick enough…


Haven’t swiftly responded to tweets, retweets, emails etc, because I’m doing other high value activities, or just doing….wait for it… doing nothing! Hands up if you feel this guilt and anxiety sometimes too?

None of this stuff is life threatening and my level of engagement in the digital world is by choice and not by force, but it’s time to acknowledge that my unfettered and undisciplined approach to it all –  needs to addressed.

First things first…

In Stephen Coveys 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People, he makes a very simple but profound point with habit 3: “Put first things first.”

Habit 3 is all about Life Management. “First things” are those things which you personally find of most worth. By putting ‘first things first’, you’re better able to organise and manage your time and activities in accordance with your personal priorities, therefore walking with more integrity in your life. And you know I’m all about integrity!

Do you know what YOUR personal priorities are?

If you don’t, please stop right now; get a pen and paper and start figuring that one out, seriously, it’s important.

A few of mine are: Health and fitness, meditation, journalling, swimming in the ocean, getting out amongst nature and beauty and taking pictures, being creative and nurturing relationships with the people I love.

These are all things I place as high priority and high value activities in my life as when I regularly engage in them, life is infinitely brighter, better and has far more flow. Yet despite all the freedom a girl could ask for, I’ve not been doing nearly enough of them ?

It’s time for me to really commit to those things, and I would like to invite you to partner with me in putting  ’first things first’- in your life

Here’s how:

1: Identify your personal priorities. The practices/activities that have the most worth and value to you. Usually these are things that will improve your quality of life if you make a commitment to them. Don’t go nuts, feel free to choose just 1 thing, then commit to doing that 1 thing x amount of days a week, or really go for it and commit to doing it every single day. No excuses. The key is COMMITMENT.

2:Pick a day to come ‘off the grid’ each week and indulge in a digital fast.Feel free to exercise some discretion in this, such as if you’re being creative or working on a non-work related project your passionate about. But disconnect from the internet, don’t get swept up in the time and energy vacuum that is social media, blogging or other on-line related activities.

Take a break, rest your mind, your fingers and your back. Get away from the screen. Spend some time with yourself  just sitting in silence. Read, pick up a pen and actually write. Cook, clear out that cupboard that embarrases you. Put on some music and dance till you sweat, play with your children, your dog, your partner ;-).  Do some yoga, meditate until you levitate.

Do whatever the hell you want, just makes sure it’s totally and utterly about rejuvenating and pleasuring you.

Putting ‘first things first’ is a declaration of self-love. It’s evidence that you recognise what is important in life. It’s also the secret of all truly happy people….but I’ll tell you more about that later…

Surprisingly, putting first things first requires alot of discipline….do you have it in you?

If you plan to join me in this commitment to put first things first, tell us what day you’ll be off the grid in the comments, so I can remember not to be offended if I tweet you and you don’t tweet me back :-)

  • Do you already put ‘first things first’..tell us how you do it….the more wisdom on how to execute this we can get… the better?
  • What are your high value activities/personal priorities, and how is your life improved when you commit to them?
  • Do you think it’s unreasonable or impossible to take a digital fast each week…give us your rationale why?

Before you share your thoughts with us in the comments, why not take a moment to share this important message with others via Twitter Facebook and any other way you can think of, that would be super cool! And while your at it, why not subscribe so you don’t miss any of the valuable stuff offered here at MLSM.

It’s all love.xx

*note* I know that for many their time spent on-line is a much for business and it is for pleasure, but in all that “business doing”…don’t forget to pleasure yourself. If you took this in a smutty way, get your mind back on higher things (wink wink)




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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy Cross
Twitter: BetsyKCross
August 15, 2011 at 5:36 am

I’m struggling with this one. Here’s a link to what I wrote in May. In a way I have it figured out for myself.
I also read Lori’s post and commented and…well yesterday came and I felt conflicted. I noticed that I DO want to connect with people on and offline EVERY day. My soul is fed by them. I guess my concern is balance and like you said,”putting first things first”. What I realized near the end of the day was that what is healthy for me is to focus on relationships ALL the time and “WORK” every day but one. Does that make sense? The day-to-day routine has to follow the same pattern (for me it’s connecting with God 1st, my personal priorities 2nd, family and then friends next) I can keep going for a very long time w/o this pattern. But I get grumpy and sad after a while. Who wants to live like that?
I love this conversation.
Betsy Cross recently posted..And Their Hearts Shall be Turned


Stacey August 15, 2011 at 8:34 am

Hey Betsy….”focus on relationships all the time, and work every day but one”. I love this…there should never be a time when we stop focusing on relationships, even if that for a moment in time is simply our relationship with ourself! I know longer practice any particular religion, but I KNOW for myself without a shadow of a doubt god is real. The moon I saw tonight. that made me smile, kiss my hand and blow it a kiss….lets me know that this force that is omnipotent and omnipresent is in my life and in my heart. God is always good…. Your day to day routine sounds perfect. xx


Lori Gosselin August 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

Hi Stacey!
Mine is Sunday, so you know why I haven’t responded to your Tweet yet! I’m hitting the ground running on a Monday (much as I did after my vacation) refreshed and raring to go!
I love the way you zeroed in on why and how to take and use your day of rest – putting first things first. (love Covey’s work!) I started with one reason – balance – but I need to take a closer look at what I DO want to do on my Sundays. Breathing, might be a good idea – just getting outside and breathing in this beautiful world in which we live, thinking, being with my family (already, Sunday is our big meal together with the extended family), reading perhaps (LOVE reading)
I think for me the goal is to just ….slow….down. Stop running so I can catch up with myself and remember why I’ve been running in the first place. Maybe clarify my goals, ask some good questions, curl up with a good book. I’m thinking it might be a good idea, for me, to plan some relaxing activities for my day, rather than just amble through it, OR it might not. We shall see!
You have the ability to take an issue and really work it Girlfriend! Beautiful job on this topic!
Lori Gosselin recently posted..Do You Observe a Day of Rest?


Stacey August 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

Thank you Lori..I read your post and it rubber stamped something I have been thinking about and feeling through. Maybe enjoy a few of your Sundays with no agenda for a few weeks and see what comes to you. I read Farnoosh’ post the other day and was led to question to idea of balance…Sometimes things need to be out of balance for a while to take you too the next step? …then I started to think about moderation..and “epic fail”, lol. I have none. I love what you say here “I think for me the goal is to just ….slow….down. Stop running so I can catch up with myself and remember why I’ve been running in the first place”. Sunday is now my official day of rest to…I can hardly wait.xx


Lori Gosselin August 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

Let me know how your Sunday at rest goes. I like your suggestion – just flow with it for a while and see how I feel. :-)
Lori Gosselin recently posted..The Best Parenting Tip – Ever!


Riley Harrison August 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Hi Stacey,
My computer crashed and I couldn’t be online at home for a couple of days. It was a mixed blessing. On the one hand I realized just how addicting the internet is but on the on the other hand I felt real gratitude for technology and internet capability (world wide communication, on-shopping, information retrieval etc). I’m in the process on reassessing my relationship with my computer (actually my family of computers, I got four of them). It’s time for someone to start an internet anonymous group LOL.
Riley Harrison recently posted..LEARN HOW TO HAVE CONFIDENCE TO BEGIN


Riley Harrison August 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Hi Lori
I thought I was leaving a general purpose comment but it somehow get slotted under your comment. That’s what happens when you take too long of a break away from the computer LOL.
Riley Harrison recently posted..LEARN HOW TO HAVE CONFIDENCE TO BEGIN


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

4 computers! Riley are you running some covert operation we should all know about :-), I have two, but no smart phone, as whilst they seam fun, there is something about them that does seam intrusive and I notice the way being with friends has changed since blackberry’s and iphones became common place. If you start IA, let me know and I’ll be the first with my hand up to share ” Hi my name is Stacey and I’m an internet addict”:-)


Dan August 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

Why assume being connected is a drain? I think a disconnect day couldn’t really go wrong, but sometimes I worry about the general idea that constant connection is a problem and is necessarily draining. Maybe it is, but wouldn’t it be cooler if we could find a flow state were we were just like super smooth with the way we interacted with the online world?

One solid example for me: I stopped doing business with clients customers I didn’t like. The reason is I couldn’t bear the constant incoming of negative emotions via email and the like.

I’m thinking outloud in your comments section.

Ok… I’ll think it through…. :)
Dan recently posted..How To Be a Hustler


Stacey August 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

I would think constant connect to anything is a drain? Moderation is a beautiful thing, but balance is seriously overrated!
Well done for giving the pain in the ass customers the ‘middle finger’ ( figuratively speaking). It takes a lot of confidence in your product, business and self, to make take such decisive action.
You can think out loud in my comments section any time :-)


Dan August 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

Since I’m in to cyborg culture and all, I like to think eventually being constantly connected will be less of a drag. Our cell phones will alert us when we should pass on the second cup of coffee, perhaps close the blinds and take a quick nap etc :P
Dan recently posted..Choosing the Right Moment to Make the Jump


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

I rue the day…scary scary scary. Kind of like me singing Pat Benatar songs at dinner :-), blame sleep deprivation, lol


Roisin Markham
Twitter: creativedynamix
August 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

Hi Stacey, nice post. Honest and self acknowledgement of a life we lead and the normality of what are our priorities and how we actually respect them and actualise them.
I’m based in Ireland and my priorities are pretty similar to yours. The swimming in the sea is definitely colder here but myself and my 7 year old have decided it is a case of mind over matter.
Thanks to Lori’s tweet I’ve discovered your blog and I’m looking forward to reading more.
I’ll be watching out with curiosity for how you honestly invest and own your priorities.
Roisin Markham recently posted.."a stitch in time" threaded stories commission


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

Hi Roisin…I don’t you think you’ll be able to tell how honestly I invest in my own priorities, at least the ones I mentioned in the post, by watching this blog! But then again I do share personal things, very honesty all the time on MLSM …so if it’s honesty you want….. your in the right place :-). I’m thankful to Lori for connecting us
I love the fact that you and your 7yr old go swimming in the sea, despite the cold. That takes some commitment….your right, it’s mind over matter.
Roisin is a beautiful name by the way. Thanks for coming over and sharing your thoughts, it’s appreciated.xx


Chrysta Bairre August 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

Great article! Most of the time I know what is truly important to me and most of the time I take care of those things first. Of course I’m a person so I get off track from time to time, but I can decide to reboot anytime I want during my life or my day.

I do avoid social media as it relates to my blog on the weekends. Sometimes I check in on Saturday; I rarely check in on Sunday- that’s my me time!
Chrysta Bairre recently posted..9 Empowering Questions for Personal Growth


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

Hey Chrysta, I think the strange thing is it never occurred to me to include some “ME TIME”. Adrienne said the same as you that she gives SM and wide berth at the weekends…I like the idea that you can decide to reboot any time during your day..I’m going to think about that one. Interesting concept. Thanks for sharing, and glad you enjoyed the post.xx


Bill Dorman August 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

When I first got ‘all in’ with social networking, it totally consumed me. Every free moment I could find seemed to be devoted to ‘growing my network’. I think in body I checked out for about 90 days there. Fortunately I feel I’m back to a much more balanced life (played golf Sun morn and tennis Sun night) and realized this will still be here if I’m gone for an hour, a day, or a month. I really do want to keep it on my terms going forward.

Priorities, make sure you keep the important ones in perspective, right?

Thanks for sharing.
Bill Dorman recently posted..All that glitters is definitely not gold


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

Go Bill with all that sporty activity, and your right, things will still be there in an hour. I think you and I took the same approach when we first started- going all in…but this sort of momentum is difficult to maintain, and the reality is is can take away time from the people who actually share you life and your home, and they should always remain a priority. Here’s to keeping things in moderation moving forward


Twitter: adriennesmith40
August 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I understand what you are saying Stacey and I find myself always on this computer. But I’m also running my business online and building my social network has a lot to do with it. Sometimes I do feel guilty when I don’t get to comments when I feel I should but I have finally learned to let that go and I’ll get to them when I can.

I try my best to stay off the computer over the weekends although I will get online for a few hours. Mostly though I’m playing catch up so if I have a lot to do then I’ll work all weekend. If I don’t then I’ll stay off but I normally never comment on the weekends. I look at that as my down time which we all need. I’m not active on any of the social media sites over the weekend at all.

So I’m not always good at following through. I do take the time to meditate every morning, take a break during my lunch hour and walk my dog every evening. So I do take breaks for myself and I never ignore my family or friends. Overall, life is pretty darn good!

Adrienne recently posted..How To Get Around In LinkedIn


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

Your life sounds pretty awesome and you have things in moderation, I like that you realise the need for down time and have made time for that. The weekends should afford us some relaxation and time off work..especially if we actually work on line. I want to mediate each morning but have found this practice really difficult to maintain. I’m going with every other morning for now, until that becomes easier then I will up my practice. Do you follow a certain type of meditation? If you have any resources you could recommend about meditation, I’d really appreciate if you shared them with me, it’s something I’m really keen to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing Adrienne


Twitter: adriennesmith40
August 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm

When you work for yourself and especially online, the computer can definitely take over your life. But the good thing is that I love what I do so it’s definitely hard sometimes to just chill. But it’s SO worth it.

I’ve tried so many different ways to learn how to meditate from CD’s to classes. I finally went with one in a class where the lady had us walking through the woods so I was able to visualize my favorite place. I came upon a stream of water that was flowing gently down over some rocks. I took myself to that place and found that this has been the easiest and most relaxing way to meditate. I just stay there for awhile and you might find this kind of out there, but I’m able to connect with spirits in my meditations. I’ve even had some fabulous chats with God so it’s been great. I’ve even had chats with my future self so I’m really loving it now which is why I make the time to do it each morning before I start my day. Hope that helped a little. Can’t believe I just shared all of that in a comment. :-)
Adrienne recently posted..How To Get Around In LinkedIn


Stacey August 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Hi Adrienne this sounds like a really powerful type of meditation. I’m going to give it ago.
I have been practising a smiling meditation and focusing on a single person using their name as a mantra and sending them love and energy. I’m not sure if either of them are particularly standard types….but I really struggle with stilling and controlling my mind and both of these practices seam to work quite well for me

Thanks for sharing this insight into what works for you here. I appreciate it


Stan Faryna
Twitter: Faryna
August 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I’m connecting right now from a village via a very iffy mobile internet connection. By village, I mean that half of the people still use horse and wagon instead of a pick up. Because they can’t afford it. They know pick ups are out there. I’m not sure the comment will go through. The connection for the posting of the comment could time out.

There’s no a/c in this hotel. No mini-fridge. And I brought my own towel. In the morning, chickens roam the lawn by the parking lot.

I had a coffee with an angel this morning. But it was a really bad coffee. The angel wanted to talk about Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. He had the most beautiful eyes. He had the face of a man that worked in the field for 50 years. He also had the face of a man that drank vodka for breakfast. But he spoke poetry and there was a light in his eyes.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I’ve also been thinking about what the internet means to me. Also what online community and friends mean to me.

It easy to discount what we are doing online. Perhaps, too easy. I’m not saying that we should neglect the people and world in our physical world. But I am saying that things may be going on in our online world may actually be as vitally important to us as our physical world.

Until I get a connection again, do weigh the matter with your heart…
Stan Faryna recently posted..The bare-footed man of Bucharest #fanart


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

I don’t discount what we are doing on-line for a second. It strikes me that there is something very special going on, the amount of connectedness, good nature and good will that is being shared and given freely every day, by people who have never met in person. The internet has become a conduit for a lot of love!

I’m glad you had coffee with an angel this morning, it sounds like fun. Thanks for taking a moment despite the dodgy connection to share your thoughts here.xx


Nisha August 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

Hey Stacey

Thank you, thank you, thank you I am going to go off the grid on Saturday and raise money for my campaign while doing it. How, you ask? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post :)
Nisha recently posted..Day 336


Stacey August 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

I love this cryptic message and will be tuned in tomorrow Nisha…glad you decided to join me in making Sunday’s your off the grid day….3 cheers to chillaxing.xx


Elyse Bruce
Twitter: mic_mac
August 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’ve always been one of those highly organized, priority-driven individuals. Yes, even my mother will tell you that as a toddler, my toys and books were arranged in order of most cherished and most important down. Some of us are just born that way.

As a teen and a young adult, I continued being a highly-organized, priority driven individual. I was lucky that my personal passions were also part of my career in the arts industry and so priorities were often doing double duty already. I developed a business/personal model that was easy to follow. I had an agenda book and at the end of the day, I would write down what I hoped to accomplish the following day, marking things with A or B (A being “must be done” and B being “would like to get done”) and then a number indicating most urgent down. Before starting on the B-list, everything on the A-list had to be checked off. If it wasn’t and there was good reason (ie. get in touch with such-and-such person or business and the other party was unavailable) it was immediately written on the following day page as a high-ranked A priority.

The A list never had more than 4 items listed. There was anywhere from 2 to 12 B list items to address.

The upswing to such a regimented system was that I got quite a bit accomplished at a time when computers and social networking sites and such didn’t exist (read: it was a lot more work to connect globally with people). It also meant that I could schedule in “free time” on that A list and actually get to it nearly each and every day (sometimes, there are exceptions that just can’t help but wipe out that A list free time).

Years later, I’m the very proud single parent of an award winning 16-year-old who has been recognized for his advocacy, humanitarian and volunteer work with 4 major awards over the past 2 years. What’s more, he’s a kid living with Myasthenia Gravis (an incurable life-threatening neuromuscular autoimmune disease that strikes 2 in 1 million kids), Asperger Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder), a bilateral congenital kidney defect, and a raft of other not-as-serious-as-those-already-mentioned diagnoses. He and I spend a lot — and I mean a lot — of time at the local hospital as well as the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto (Ontario). And yet, both of us accomplish quite a bit despite the demands his health issues make on our time.

It’s about prioritizing well and keeping to that A and B list routine established long ago. Of course, there’s been some modifications to make it work more efficiently. While the B list contains items we’d like to get done, now there’s a C list and it holds things that need to be done but that can be done anywhere …. including the Emergency Department or in a clinic or while getting an IVIg treatment or waiting in the doctor’s office.

Because of the nature of Myasthenia Gravis especially and his other health issues as well, the C list has proven to be a very effective way to address items on the A and B lists as well as items that would have been on the A or B list in the next day or two.

It means that we can take time off to go see a movie when we want to and we can hang out in the park with our cameras for a couple hours if we want to and we can just kick back in the yard at home to drink lemonade and hang out with each other for an afternoon.

My son is far more technology connected than I but this A and B list routine works for him. Yes, even he can go a couple of days without wondering if he’s neglecting his online friends. He realizes that prioritizing well means almost everything gets done and almost no one feels neglected. And if someone online feels neglected, he just adds them to his A list under “reconnect with so-and-so and let them know I appreciate having them in my life.”
Elyse Bruce recently posted..Back-To-School Week Is Expensive This Year!


Rachel Lavern
Twitter: rachellavern
August 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

It is critical to get what matters to the top of our list. To put first things first. When I shift my focus from my list of tasks to working on results I truly care about, I do more than just get the
stuff that matters to the top of my list. I also shift from an energy-draining to an energy-generating way of organizing my days.

Oh yes, I am “off the grid on Saturdays and Sundays”. I may pre-schedule tweets and blog posts during the week to post on the weekend. Weekends are for fun and relaxation with family and friends.
Rachel Lavern recently posted..Get Totally Obsessed With Imagination


Stacey August 20, 2011 at 6:13 am

Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by and leaving this great advice. I am trying to prioritise my to do list….or more importantly….. start with this things that need to be done rather than just the things that I ‘want’ to do. I’ll be joining you for off the grid Sundays….actively forward to it.xx


Susana August 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hey girl,

Hope you are feeling better :D

Amazingly, this is exactly what I need to do. I have been having trouble in focusing and committing to some very important goals in my life. I know what to do and how to do it. I’ve been delaying this for some time. I guess because I tried before and failed. Anyway, I can’t run forever. :)

(I also run to my computer as soon as I awake :D :P – I love this online madness!)

I loved to this post, I know exactly what you mean.

Have a great weekend,
Susana recently posted..Girl in a Bubble – Escape from the Comfort Zone


Frank August 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I think a digital fast is necessary. I have been so disconnected from the real tangible things in my life like family in an attempt to make connections with people all over the world. I have been slowly learning to let go. I was going after something that wasn’t worth it. I was mining for fools gold. Now I try to make sure the people who mean the most to me, see the most of me, instead of watching me spend hours sitting in front of my computer. I am learning to build intergrity at home. Great post!
Frank recently posted..Improving Productivity with Purpose?


Stacey August 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

woooo…integrity at home!!!!!!! Frank I learn about a lack of that the hard way!
All I can say is I second every single thing you have said here. I especially like what you say “Now I try to make sure the people who mean the most to me, see the most of me”. This should be stuck up in front of all of our computers and laptops to give us a swift reminder to keep our priorities in check!
Thanks for hanging out


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Stacey August 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Wow Elise, you actually make me feel lazy. This level of organisation goes completely over my head. It won’t surprise you to know I’m exactly the opposite. I never know where anything is. I have a to-do list as long as my arm, and things get promoted or demoted on this list according to how I’m feeling. The strategy that you and Lewis use to get things done seams fantastically effective, especially as you have been able to work it into more unpleasant but none the less important things, like none stop hospital visits ( been there my sister has a tracheotomy).

There a lot to learn from this way of working, and to be honest its a way of working I really need to learn so that you for sharing it with me.xx


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