You've had your morning coffee.
You arrive at work with a mental agenda and a good feeling about all you wish to accomplish that day. Checking your email reveals a high priority message from your boss; just then a co-worker calls you to discuss complications on a project. You've now got two items needing your immediate attention when Harry the hypochondriac leans against your cubicle to give you a detailed account of his weekend adventures with food poisoning. Your blood pressure rises and your head screams "I don't have TIME for this!" That good, productive, get-it-done feeling you had is gone in a matter of minutes and so is your clear mental agenda of what you wanted to accomplish.
You are not alone. It always seems that there is not enough time in the day. We get pulled in a variety of directions and our own agenda for the day gets lost or buried. Events happen everyday that are beyond our control but we can control how we respond. By setting and clarifying our priorities, we are able to stay focused, think more clearly and minimize our stress throughout the day.
Setting goals is the first step--that good mental agenda. When life seems to get out of control --that priority email from your boss and phone call from your co-worker--you'll need to shift your priorities. Ask yourself, "What is the most important task that I need to do in this moment?" Then prioritize again - "Gee, Harry, I'm sorry for your experience, but if you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of work to do to meet this deadline and I'd rather make it to my son's baseball game than stay late again at work tonight."
Whether at work or at home, you need to clarify what you value - what is most important. Being dependable at work is a core value for you but also is being a good parent. By understanding this, you can clearly navigate through the chaos of the day and eliminate all of those distractions, getting back to that good mental agenda that started your day!