It creeps up on you, doesn’t it?
One day you’re taking life step by step as you work toward your goals…
…the next it seems like life is speeding ahead a mile a minute.
New responsibilities materialize out of nowhere! Hard and fast!
And life can leave you reeling if you don’t have a good method for prioritizing your time and activities.
You don’t want to find yourself in a constant state of catching up, otherwise you will eventually get overwhelmed and start to fall behind.
Once you do start to fall behind, the responsibilities are just going to pile on deeper and deeper until you find yourself struggling to get anything done.
But it doesn’t have to get that far. Here are some simple, yet effective things you can do to prioritize.
Create A List Of Tasks, Then Rank Them By Importance And Time
The first thing you need to do when trying to prioritize your tasks is to get organized.
Take some time to write down a list of the tasks that you need to accomplish and when they need to be accomplished by.
Include a time and a date if the task is time sensitive.
If your task is not time sensitive, it may be helpful to assign a deadline of your own to help combat procrastination and overthinking.
Rank your list of tasks on their importance with Immediate (needs to be done today), Important (needs to be done within the week), and No Limit (doesn’t have a concrete time frame).
Next, consider the value of each of the tasks that are on your list.
How important is the task to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish?
You might have regular work responsibilities that you need to take care of, maybe it’s a personal life issue that needs tending to, or maybe it’s something totally casual that you need to do but just haven’t made the time for yet.
Different tasks are going to bring different levels of value to the different areas of your life.
Whatever it may be, consider what value the task will bring to whatever it is you’re doing.
The last point to consider is just how much time the task will take to accomplish.
It’s often better to tackle lengthier projects first to get them worked down to a manageable level, but that may not be the best choice if you have several smaller tasks that need immediate attention.
However, don’t tackle lots of small tasks to avoid the work of the larger tasks. You don’t want to find yourself slipping into a habit of avoiding the large task as the deadline looms closer and closer!
Organization Helps Prioritization
A disorganized life makes it much more difficult to prioritize your tasks and responsibilities.
How will you be able to keep up and excel if things keep popping up that you forgot about or sidelined without any kind of reminder?
Organizing your life will give you much greater control and direction over everything else that is happening in your personal and professional world.
A good way to get organized is through organizational journaling.
There are lots of different ways that you can journal, from following other peoples’ strategies to developing one yourself.
Some people like to just use a blank notebook. Other people like to use pre-made journals that already have suggestions printed in them; suggestions like lists, notes, health and sleep tracking.
You can sit down at the start of your week and plan out what needs to happen in the coming seven days.
Include everything that you need to get done and when you intend to do it.
You should also schedule personal time for yourself as well as time for self-care and taking care of your health.
Self-care typically drops off when people start getting busy. It’s easy to do nothing instead of going for a walk or taking fifteen minutes to clear your mind and meditate.
Schedule your self-care with the same urgency of your most important tasks.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you try, you’ll just be stressed and push yourself closer to burnout.
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Let Your Values Determine Your Priorities
Tapping into one’s values is a good way to help determine your priorities.
Conversely, the way you spend your time is often a reflection of your values and priorities.
That perspective can get derailed as the responsibilities of life pile up and you find yourself scrambling for more time.
If you find yourself burning out or having a hard time, it may be a good idea to reassess if your priorities are in line with your values.
Do you consider yourself family oriented? How much time are you spending with your family? Do you have it blocked out in your schedule to ensure that you can spend that time with your family?
Do you want a promotion at work? What actions have you considered and planned to earn that promotion?
Is your career providing any sense of pride and accomplishment by being aligned with your values? If not, is it time to make a career change?
Are you spending enough time taking care of yourself? Managing your mental and physical health? Exercising? Eating and sleeping well? Do you need to devote more time to self-care so that you can become a healthier person?
Priorities often reflect our values because we want to do the things that resonate most with us.
You’ll have a much easier time sticking to your priorities if you work in alignment with your values and life goals.
Cut Out Time Wasters And Low Priority Tasks
Now, more than ever, we are constantly bombarded by numerous activities that are just not all that important or happen to be total time wasters.
Cutting these low priority activities out of your life will give you more freedom and flexibility to accomplish the big tasks that you need to work on.
It’s really easy to get sucked into scrolling through social media feeds or binge watching TV shows – but they are not a productive use of your time!
Low priority tasks should be examined to determine whether or not they are actually necessary.
The idea is not to avoid those tasks, but to determine if they are relevant to your responsibilities.
You ought to separate low priority tasks from any time wasting activities that may prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
Low priority tasks can be pushed out or reassigned to a later date to make space for the more important tasks that are on your schedule.
Time wasters should be minimized or eliminated altogether.
Embrace Flexibility To Optimize Your Time And Tasks
Flexibility is an important skill for everyone to develop.
Life comes at you fast and sometimes you have to think on your feet to successfully navigate it.
Responsibilities at work can shift and change, particularly if you work with other people who may have different tasks and priorities to you.
You may find yourself lagging behind if you are waiting on someone else to finish some work they need to do.
An effective way to stay flexible is to allot blocks of time to dedicate to a specific type of task.
Instead of saying you’ll work on a specific thing during a two hour block tomorrow, you could instead just say that this particular two hour block is for work without specifying what you’ll be working on.
The same can be done for almost any task.
Maybe it’s bulk cooking some meals on a day off, exercising in the morning when you get up, or needing to get your errands taken care of.
It’s not always necessary or even a good idea to plan out the finer points of your day if your tasks are reliant on other people or changing conditions of your day.
Knowing when to adapt and go with the flow will not only bring you closer to your goals and dreams, but also reduce your overall stress and workload.