Set Your Priorities like a Chinese Buffet

Do you like Chinese food? I sure do. So does my sweet mother-in-law Alice. Because of this shared affinity, we recently ordered some Chinese takeout. As we ate, we talked about the upcoming year and what we might expect from it. We also talked about our to-do lists—the things we were still hoping to get completed before the end of 2021. 

While digging in to our delectable dishes, I was reminded of a concept I wrote about in Chapter 3 of Wonder-FULL: Activate Your Inner Superpowers (No Care Required). The chapter is called The Power of Priority and it is about setting priorities so you can actually accomplish what you need to when you need to—while creating the margin to be present with those you love. This strategy is a simple one that can produce some pretty remarkable results (and give you peace in the process). I call it the YOU PICK 3 concept. Here’s the premise:

I used to start my days with an unrealistic, over-scheduled calendar and overflowing to-do lists. Simply put, it was a recipe for disaster. It kept me from feeling productive or having balance between my work and life commitments. I needed to step back and take a look at my schedule, my commitments, where I put my time and energy. I had to think about whether this aligned with my values and larger goals.

Then I had to decide what was most important to me, and come up with a way to honor those items and still get my other tasks accomplished.

Now I prioritize. I pick three—only three—work projects to complete in any given day. It’s kinda like the combo meal at a Chinese buffet, where you pick three entrees to go with your fried rice. Like choosing cream cheese wontons, orange chicken, and beef with broccoli, I choose three tasks to fill my plate. (General Tso’s will have to wait for another day, no matter how tasty it looks.)

On top of that, I then focus on one task at a time before moving on to the next. That’s like finishing the wontons first, then the orange chicken, then the beef with broccoli. If you try to scarf it all down at once, you can’t savor the flavors—and you might just end up needing the Heimlich. (Or Tums!)

As a speaker and writer, a typical day might see me writing a blog, practicing a presentation, and making calls to potential clients. By turning off my phone while I’m practicing and not answering emails when I’m writing, I am more engaged, more efficient, and much more productive. And by focusing on one task at a time, I get to honor the process and actually enjoy my work. I’m more present in many ways.

Don’t get me wrong. Prioritizing doesn’t magically make your responsibilities go away. There’s laundry to fold and dishes to do. I still have more tasks than time. But now I tackle them with a different attitude and fortitude. Gone are the days of reducing brain power with endless multitasking. 

[For more on the myth of multitasking, you’ll want to read all of Chapter 3. Order your copy today.]

Thanks to mindful prioritizing, I am now able to take—to savor—those golden opportunities to talk with one of my kids or join friends for happy hour or hang out with sweet Alice. I don’t waste that precious time by checking emails or Facebook. I choose to be in the moment—without distractions. I choose to be present. 

Want to give it a try? For the next week, prioritize your to-do lists. Pick three—only three—significant tasks or projects to complete each day. Remember to complete one before moving on to the next.

After seven days of doing this, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this strategy help you focus?
  • Did you increase productivity?
  • Did it remove the pressure of trying to cram too much into your day?
  • Were you able to unplug once you accomplished the three tasks?
  • Are you more present when you’re with those you love?
  • How could you improve on this strategy?


Want more ideas on how you can do life better? Be more productive? More connected? More confident? More resilient? Want to learn how to activate your inner superpowers to live your fullest life? Then order yourself a copy of MIPA GOLD Award-winning Wonder-FULL: Activate Your Inner Superpowers (No Cape Required) today!

Makes a terrific gift for the wonderful women in your life!

2 Comments on “Set Your Priorities like a Chinese Buffet”

  1. Love your insights and strategies that really work! Thanks for the great reminder Kelly. Very timely!

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