We all have many things on our list to do and there doesn’t seem to be enough time and energy to get it all done. Prioritizing is a way to solve this frustrating problem. Prioritizing is about making choices. Here are ideas to help you prioritize.
1. To prioritize effectively, you need to be able to recognize what is important. The important (high priority) tasks are based on what you value and those that help you achieve your goals and provide meaningful and rewarding long-term results. As you perform different tasks, think about where they fit on your priority list.
2. Making a list of all the tasks that need to be done is a good way to begin prioritizing. Prioritize the items on the list by using the ABC method to rank your priorities. For example, Priority A: Must Do (crucial tasks and commitments to do today), Priority B: Should Do (important things that do not need to be done today), and Priority C: Nice to Do (least urgent tasks).
3. Do not think of your priorities as just jobs that need to be done. As you remind yourself to direct yourself to the most important tasks first, you will find yourself letting go of tasks that really didn’t need to be done at that time. For example, what’s more important? Helping your child with homework or getting a load of laundry done?
4. Also take note of the difference between tasks that you NEED to do and those that you WANT to do. Deciding the order in which you prioritize tasks means you start with the needs first and move to the wants afterwards.
5. It has been said before, but learning to say ‘no’ is important. Try focusing on the important things that will get done because you used that little word to decline a task that was not a part of your priorities. What are some of the things you should say ‘no’ to?
6. Interruptions are a normal part of life. If you deal with a lot of interruptions in your life, this can put a damper on your priorities. Learn to limit the number of interruptions in your life.
7. Delegating tasks to someone else is a way to free up some of your time for the jobs that are important for you. It may be tempting to take over if the work is not being done quite to your liking. However, you have to learn that done doesn’t have to be perfect. Good enough is often just fine–like allowing your child to fold the laundry, even if it’s not perfect.
8. Work on overcoming procrastination. Procrastination can waste a lot of valuable time that could have been used for working on your priorities. When you catch yourself procrastinating, be sure to make the effort to take that first step toward completing the task at hand. Taking that first step will help get the ball rolling toward completion.
9. When you prioritize unplanned activities, keep in mind your goals and rely on your instincts. Your effectiveness in prioritizing in these situations depends on the clarity of your goals.
10. When prioritizing, you need to be able to separate the tasks that need doing from the busy work that tends to eat away at your time. Many tasks that fill up your day may not need doing at all or could be done less frequently. Determine what that busy work is in your career and your life.
11. Priorities change as life changes. Revisit and update your priorities on a regular basis.
12. Keep in mind that everything in your life cannot be a priority. There are many important things that will compete for attention over your lifetime and that there are not enough hours in that lifetime to give attention to everything that is good and worthwhile. You have to be selective.
13. Develop systems to help keep things running smoothly. Many times that can be accomplished by using a personal calendar. In family settings, a master calendar is helpful.
14. Keep the option of ‘buying time’ in mind. If you have an extremely hectic schedule, it may be reasonable to buy time by selecting goods and services that save you from investing time. For example, paying a neighbor to mow your lawn is one way of buying time. What are other ways you can buy some time?
15. Use technology to help you prioritize tasks. Sometimes an important task can be done more quickly with the use of technology. Instead of meeting an appointment in person, can you do it through a conference call or by e-mail?
16. When prioritizing, make sure to include deadlines for each task. It will make tasks easier to prioritize and give you more focus.
17. Last, but certainly not least, you also need to be one of the priorities you set for yourself. It is important to take care of you and make time for yourself.