Where do I start?

Joey put coconut milk in her coffee today. Phhht!

I have difficulty prioritizing tasks at work and home. My wife jokes that I have attention deficit disorder, which is not true. I just can’t seem to decide where to start. There always seems to be so much to do. Do you have any suggestions?

Admit that you are overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Although we must all generate income and manage our living spaces, you probably take on more than you can handle. If you shoulder too many burdens hoping to be seen as a nice guy or trying to make others happy, review your choices. Pleasing others or attempting to control their opinion of you has become more important than a balanced life. Rectify that problem. Divest yourself of activities that can be handled by others. Acknowledge any tendencies to spend money on material things that create more responsibilities. As Joe Dominguez of the voluntary simplicity movement once pointed out, “Everything you own owns you.” The more you have, the more you pay in time and money to keep everything running smoothly.

Now, let’s examine the issue of prioritizing. Go online and reserve management consultant Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time from your local library. The basic concept is simple: Always tackle the biggest, ugliest task first. Use these three questions from the book as your launch pad: 1.What is my highest value activity? 2. What can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a difference? 3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?

Sometimes procrastination is the child of low self-esteem. A person who feels inadequate in general and is insecure about his ability to handle an aspect of a task avoids it altogether. If this feels familiar, it helps to gain insight about the lives of men and women who are considered successful. Most of them failed repeatedly at their goals. They just didn’t give up. You don’t have to either.

My 8-year-old daughter’s father and I are divorced. Now he’s hellbent on buying my daughter’s love. Whatever she asks him for, he buys. When I protest, he says it’s his money and he can do what he wants. My daughter lives with me primarily and demands that I buy her things. I tell her I can’t afford it and she acts out. Please help.

Your husband is correct; you don’t have a say in how he spends money. The real issue is that your daughter is failing to learn the difference between needs and wants. It’s best if you and your ex-husband parent cooperatively, but that won’t happen until you both put aside your resentments. In the meantime, don’t tell your daughter you can’t afford things. Show her. Gather a paycheck stub, the monthly cache of bills, your savings plan for retirement, etc. Help her to respect that money is received in exchange for spending one’s life energy. Show her your hourly wage and how many hours it takes to purchase a Wii plus the associated games. Clue her in on a regular basis so she begins to grasp the true meaning of a dollar. Once a quarter, have her gather toys and clothing in good condition and donate them. Consider your problem to be an opportunity to teach your daughter how to become a good steward of the world.

Meditation of the Week

“The average millionaire has made 3.1 major career or business mishaps, versus 1.6 mistakes for non-millionaires,” according to the book <i>The Middle-Class Millionaire: The Rise of the New Rich and How They Are Changing America</i>. I’m not advocating you change social classes, but what would happen if you let yourself take more risks?