Oh, so many of us prioritize our tasks according to the needs of others. So often, there are underlying people-pleasing tendencies. At the end of the day, we think we’ve made everyone else happy, but they may not have even noticed.
Add to that the frustration of not getting the things done that we really needed to get done, it’s no wonder we beat ourselves up at the end of the day.
You started the day with the best of intentions and then life happens. Emails marked urgent (and they really are NOT urgent) flood your inbox. Someone calls or drops in your office to vent. Someone on your team didn’t follow-through on something so you tell yourself it’s easier if I do it myself.
Can you relate?
This doesn’t only happen at work, but it happens in our personal lives, too, with limited time spent on activities that are actually important and more energy spent being “busy.”
Sometimes, we fall into productive procrastination mode. This is when you convince yourself that because you’re busy doing something, it’s ok that you’re not doing the thing that is most critical at that time.
It is in these moments that it’s critical to have a system in place to help you decide what is the best use of your time.
By implementing a prioritization system, you can drastically change the arc of your workday to really make the most of your time at work and at home.
Step 1: Identify your to-do’s.
Step 2: Run each of the tasks through the 3 categories of questions or filters, Impact, Time, and Consequences
- Why is this important?
- What do I want the outcome to be?
- What’s the impact if this task is completed?
- What is the larger goal I’ll be making progress on by completing this task?
- Is this a must-do or nice-to-do?
- Do I have the capacity for this? (time, energy)
- What’s the deadline?
- Does this NEED to be done NOW?
- Is this the best use of my time?
- What won’t get done if I focus on this?
- What’s the penalty or fall-out if I don’t do it?
- Will anyone notice if it doesn’t get done?
Step 3: After you’ve put your tasks through these filters, put those tasks that need to be worked on this week into your planner. Schedule the day and time you’re going to do the task. YOU MUST SCHEDULE IT!
Step 4: For those tasks that did not make the cut, do not keep them on your current to-do list. Your to-do list get cluttered with the nice-to-do’s and tasks that are not important right now. Then you look at that long list and it looks like you got nothing done. From there, the self-doubt and self-bullying chatter in your head starts. Instead, add these tasks to a NOT NOW LIST. You don’t want to lose sight of these things.
Step 5: Tomorrow, or next week pull out your NOT NOW LIST and take them through the filters again. If they stay on your NOT NOW LIST week after week, ask yourself why this task is even on your list. If you can’t answer that, delete it.
Remember, the purpose of prioritization is to spend time working on the important tasks, those things that will make a difference in the long run and move you in the right direction. When prioritization is handled well, you’ll feel less reactive and more focused and intentional.
The aim is to complete work that signifies true progress, and let all the rest, all the “busyness” and “people-pleasing”, fall to the wayside.
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