We all have those lists — either on paper or in our heads — of what needs to be done each day.

I have a list for this and a list for that. Sometimes my lists have lists. I, like my mother, am a list person.

I prioritize my to-do lists at work with what absolutely has to be done, to get a paper out on time (urgent and important) at the top and what has to be done to make things run smoothly (not-so-urgent, important) the rest of the week or month at the bottom. The latter fall into the category of investments. It includes planning, recruitment, returning non-urgent e-mails and phone calls, community relations, giving feedback, etc.

We’ve all found ourselves caught up in the urgent and important details of our lives; the things we have to do to survive. Working, grocery shopping, paying bills, etc., fall into this category. There are times these things take up all our time with little left to sleep and get ready for each day.

What we often have trouble finding time for the investments we need to make that ensure life is not only livable, but pleasant and fulfilling. That e-mail from a friend we couldn’t get to last week or the phone call we never returned because later never came are investments in a more fulfilling life.

A recent Facebook post listed all the things the author was “dying” to do like become an adult, get that perfect job, etc., that he forgot to “live.” Since my father died, I have tried to “invest” in more things. You just never know how much time you have with anyone. Later, sometimes, is too late.

When friends or my mom call, unless it is just impossible, we make plans to do something. To make things easier, sometimes we combine the urgent with the not-so urgent, killing two birds with one stone. We still feel we are accomplishing what “has” to be done while spending time together and staying connected. Sometimes that afternoon spent talking and laughing turns out to be just as important as your “Top 5” on that to-do list.

Some parents probably feel they are still in school with the amount of homework they have to help their children with. At the end of the day, reading a book together may seem like just another assignment. Read that book. It will mean so much to your child and you will get the “warm fuzzies” from spending quality time together. Your children will remember that interaction way longer than getting that homework assignment done.

After working a hard day and coming home and cleaning, fixing supper or doing laundry, sitting down and discussing an upcoming event with your spouse or just seeing how things are going may be way down on the list. Move it up. Invest in your relationship and reap the rewards.

It’s called an investment for a reason. There are rewards to be gathered at the end. Sometimes that item on the bottom of the list needs to move up to the top so it doesn’t fall off completely. Sometimes that long-term investment pays off and makes the short-term ones easier.