Teach Your Children To Prioritize
Heart to Heart

      Besides the everyday tasks that each household requires, as leaders of CHEF we are required to wade through mountains of information each day—emails, mail, tapes, CDs, and phone calls from people wanting information and referrals, requesting reviews on their materials, and wanting us to advertise their products, requests for us to peruse their websites to see if we would like to advertise their company or products, legislative issues, speakers and vendors requesting to come to our conference, organizations that want to plug into ours, families’ prayer requests, competitions, checks for activities and products, information for newsletters—the list is endless and piles up each day along with junk mail and junk emails and telemarketers’ phone calls. This amount of materials is a formidable foe to time, thereby making it absolutely imperative for us to wade through this mass of requests and materials quickly and efficiently.

      And because all of us are inundated with a tremendous amount of information, it is crucial that we train our children to quickly acquire the important, while discarding the rest. This training can begin with the mail one receives each day. Have the children practice taking each piece of mail and quickly determine by the return address if it is of importance, particularly noting the advertisements for credit cards, phone service and such to be discarded. Let them open all bills and file immediately in the bill drawer and place any letters on the appropriate person’s bed or in a central mailbox in the home.

      Additional practice can occur by giving the children a paragraph to speedily read, glancing only down the center, noting significant words which would give the most important points of the paragraph. Do this each day for a week or two, and then have then do it with two paragraphs, then three, until they can speed read an entire story, gathering only the most pertinent of facts.

      Next have them read the directions in their math book, highlighting only those words that define the steps of the lesson. Do the same with instructions for games. Have the child read through instructions, highlighting only those points that are absolutely necessary. For instance, the child should not highlight that which is assumed like rolling the dice or going clockwise around the board. However, directions that are peculiar to each game should be highlighted for future reference. This also applies to highlighting a book for future reference.

      For more practice have your children place all your errands in order, making the most of one day instead of several. Show them how to make a list each time before you leave, placing only one or two words to identify the location of each stop. If your errands were to include mailing bills at the post office, depositing checks at the bank, shopping at your Italian market for cheese and spices, returning books at the library, grocery shopping, and picking up meats at the meat market, have them write Mail, Bank, the name of the Italian market, Library, the name of your grocery store, and the name of the meat market.

      Give them plenty of practice making out a grocery list in the order of aisles. For other shopping, have them determine what needs to be purchased and place on a list in order of location. If shopping at a department store, place items to be purchased in order of floors—top floor shopping being done first, descending in order down to the first floor and out the door. It is also extremely important that they learn how to shop efficiently by quickly perusing the items available, making the best selections in short order.

      Recently while shopping for furniture for a client, Sonia and I went to 14 stores shopping for daybeds, office furniture, sofa, side chairs, side tables, coffee table, kitchen island, wall units, window treatments, mirrors, and pictures in less than eight hours, and we truly saw everything available, but only copied down the order number and designs of those things that suited our client’s tastes. We were able to wade through the vast number of pieces by concentrating on specific styles, sizes, and colors, again disregarding those things that did not fit into the parameters of our mission. Today we went through thousands of fabrics for a sofa, chairs, pillows, and window treatments for five different rooms in just four hours by concentrating on the requirements of each function and color scheme for each piece while overlooking those that did not meet those requirements.

      What about directions? If you read the directions for a party that said, “To the Smiths: Take Highway 270 to 55 south. Travel 5 miles and turn west on Cedar Road. Make left at the Vickers station onto Rodeo Drive. Take this for 2 and one half miles till you get to Forest Lane. Go right to the seventh house on the left at 244 Forest Lane. Our house is a two-story with black shutters.” Well, if you were driving and trying to read the directions as you went, you might have an accident reading all the superfluous information, so delete all the unnecessary words and write them like this:


S 55


W Cedar

L Vickers-Rodeo Dr.


R Forest Ln

L 7th house/244

2 story blk shutters


      Show your children how to write directions and then have them continuously route your travels until they are able to easily streamline them.

      This method can also be used in writing out recipes. I now write my recipes as follows, but just so you know, this is not a real recipe.


Coconut Cookies

1 c butter

1 c sugar

2 eggs

2 c flour

1 t vanilla

1 c nuts

350  12 min.


      That is all that is necessary because I know that you always cream the butter and sugar together first and then add the eggs until well blended. Flour is added next, then the vanilla. Nuts are incorporated by hand. And the dough is then scooped out with a cookie scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. So why write all these superfluous words that just take more time to read?

      When I find a dish that I like at a restaurant, I will just ask the chef for the ingredients. I do not need amounts, for just a list of the special spices or ingredients he used is sufficient to prepare the dish.

      Working quickly in the kitchen is imperative for a mother of several children, so be diligent in teaching your daughters the skills necessary in being efficient. All it takes is a lot of practice!

            Since all of us are inundated with information all day long and tasks that need to be completed, we need to be diligent to train all our children to make the most of their time by concentrating on the necessary and disregarding the unnecessary, by prioritizing and ordering efficiently, by completing the most important tasks first, and by reasoning clearly and making decisions quickly.