A useful reminder on my wall
26 March 2024

I have this sticky note stuck to the side of my monitor.

It’s a useful reminder when I’m trying to decide between a gazillion different things I could (and probably should) be doing at this precise moment.

It goes like this:


  • Self
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Clients
  • Prospects
  • Others

For example:

  • writing a proposal > writing a blog post
  • preparing for a workshop > writing a proposal
  • checking in on a friend > preparing for a workshop
  • helping my son practice the piano > checking in on a friend
  • taking time to meditate > hepling my son practice the piano

Make sure that workshop is going to sing before you send a proposal for the next one. Send that invoice before you publish that shiny new blog post.

Sometimes it’s not obvious. For example, right now I’m done working for the day and publishing this blog post feels like something nice to do for myself.

Timing also makes prioritisation complicated. Just because something isn’t a priority right now (making dinner for the family) doesn’t mean it won’t become a priority in an hour or two. We have to be constantly evaluating and making choices. The list above makes this easier.

Some of this stuff impacts how I set up my morning routine so that I get the major pieces of self-care out of the way before anything else (meditation, breakfast, reading, exercise, shower, etc).

If this list seems self-centred, consider turning it upside down.

With a nod to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Nonviolent Communication you could say that it starts with me. If I’m hungry, tired, angry, upset, distracted, I’m no good to anyone. Even the Buddhist practice of metta starts with one’s self.

When I’m in a good place, I am the foundation that supports everything else, beginning with my family. When my family is happy, it enables me to go make friends and have a social life. When my wider support network is solid, I can do great work with my clients. If I’m serving my clients well then I’ve earned the right to look for more clients. If I don’t have any prospects, I can turn my attention to new people that I don’t know and see if they might someday move further up the list of priority groups.

As William Butler Yeats said, “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.”


It’s a bit like the agile game “Circles and Soup” where we try to identify and move items of dissatisfaction towards increasing levels of influence and control. Before I do anything, I like to ask myself “Is this the most wholesome and beneficial decision I can make? Will it help me achieve my longer term goals in even the smallest of ways?”

A lot of folks can do this automatically but I find I need some prompts and reminders. This blog post is one of them. 😊