Staying on top of things can be a challenge. Without a system of task organization, you can start to lose efficiency and maybe even your mind. One day you feel like an absolute master of productivity, skipping through life with big hopes and dreams for the future, and the next day you’re drowning in endless to-do lists, questioning your sanity and barely finding time to take care of yourself.
Can this madness be alleviated? Surely we can’t sustain a lifestyle of mental notes, lists jotted on napkins, and disorganized to-do lists. Maybe the best weapon to fight the ups and (especially) downs of the productivity roller coaster is prioritizing.
At the basic level, prioritizing simply means putting important things first. Filtering your goals and to-do’s through this lens gives you the power to live with balance and truly make an impact.
So prioritizing … here’s how it’s done, and how it empowers you to do your very best work ::
WHERE TO BEGIN ::
First things first, it can be helpful to rethink your personal organizational system. How do you organize what needs to get done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Do you, like me, write everything down at random and then stare blankly at the list wondering what to do next? I’ve quickly found that writing everything down randomly is certainly not the most helpful.
With an unorganized system, you are left feeling the opposite of motivated. Too much unorganized information is hard to process and can leave you feeling overwhelmed and frozen, rather than ready to tackle the day. Prioritizing takes your to-do list to the next level, giving it purpose and inspiring action rather than causing a mini panic attack.
Next time you craft your to-do list, curate it with intention. List the items in order of priority. It may be helpful to go even further, planning your day hour-by-hour. Also, keep in mind that the lower priority items that can be moved to another time. One thing you can do is number 1 through 3 next to each item on your list. Each number represents the item’s importance; 1 meaning crucial, 2 meaning somewhat important, and 3 meaning low priority.
You may be tempted to leave the most daunting thing on your list for last. However, often the most important things require the most thought, time, and effort. Don’t put the hard things off. Start working on them right away so that you can allow yourself the freedom to do your best.
For example, don’t leave the most challenging thing on your list for a Friday afternoon or schedule the project that requires the most brain power during that post-lunch sleepy spell. As much as we like to think coffee is the answer for getting things done, prioritizing may have a lot more to offer than a triple shot espresso.
PRIORITIZING = PRODUCTIVITY ::
When you prioritize, you know what to tackle next, eliminating the need to question whether or not you are working on the “right thing”. This gives you the ability to go through your day undistracted and confident that the task at hand is a productive one.
Prioritizing your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals allows you to focus on the impact you will make. Each item on your to-do list should have some degree of importance. Prioritizing makes you stop and think about what each item’s impact is. If you can’t think of the impact, maybe it’s worth setting aside for another time or taking off your list altogether. Sure, running to the office supply store to pick up printer ink isn’t necessarily changing the world, but maybe with that ink you’ll print the next bestselling novel or a hand designed thank you note that brightens someone’s day.
All this being said, humans were not made to be 100 percent efficient. If you prioritize and you still don’t get everything done, don’t beat yourself up. There will always be a new day to try again.
So, tomorrow morning as you stare at your massive list of things to do, consider tackling the most important things first. And as you make goals for the future, think of what items are the biggest priority based on the impact it will make in your life as well as the lives of others. Your sanity will thank you.
Do have any prioritizing tips and tricks? If so, please share in the comments, it would be amazing to hear from you!
words by lindsay – project manager