Do you feel like you always have too much on your plate? Like your day needs to be extra long sometimes because your boss requested that you finish a report for him, your wife needs you to pick up a few things, or you still need to edit your kid’s album on Photo Shop when you get home?
And sleep takes a back seat again . . .
Well, if you’re like me, your days could stretch into 30 hours if you let them. Well, there’s a solution to that! You can prioritize. Sure, it seems simple.
But you say that everyone says that, there is still too much on my plate after prioritizing!
Choosing what task to prioritize is not easy sometimes. The trick is to have the willpower and self-discipline to drop whatever is not urgent and important in your day. No, it is not easy, but yes, it is certainly worth it. And who said it would be easy anyway?
1) First, get a pen and paper. (Or open your computer’s spreadsheet or word processing program.)
2) Make 4 categories: “important but not urgent”, “urgent and important”, “urgent but not important”, and “not important nor urgent”. (A Stephen Covey Strategy)
3) Under “important but not urgent,” write what is of great importance to you and your goals program, but you can do it tomorrow or next week if you had to. It’s importance is high, and you really do need to set out specific block time to get it done before it comes due. Many times other tasks can not be completed or even scheduled if these are not finished in timely fashion.
Under “important and urgent,” write down what you need to do that is of high importance and high urgency. The kind that if you don’t do today, you’ll get fired, or worse, your wife will make you sleep outside the house.
Make sure that these tasks are really important, that not doing this would have a big consequence. No, it does not mean the task of having to buy your wife a can of Pringles in the middle of the night. Unless she’s actually pregnant and you don’t want to wake up next to the dog.
Under “urgent but not important,” write down what you want to do today, but not really essential to survive another (normal 24-hour) day.
Finally, under “not important nor urgent,” write what you honestly could live without if there just was no more time leftover.
4) Now, go through your list and sort out the most critical things to do.
For Category 1 (important but not urgent), schedule the most important thing from this list to do and set a time limit, with the task’s deadline in mind. Make sure to make allowance for some ‘what ifs”. (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) These tasks are very often the first ones I schedule and fit everything else around them.
For the ones under Category 2 (urgent and important), see how much you could squeeze today, with enough breathing space and time to sleep for 6-8 hours.
For Category 3 (urgent but not important), if a task on the list says “send email greetings to mom-in-law (ordered by wife) today,” do it after you have completed Category 1 and 2 tasks. Unless mom-in-law’s birthday is today and not emailing will mean World War 3, that is.
Finally for Category 4 (not important nor urgent): Yes, you can live without checking Facebook, Twitter, G+ or your blog or whatever for one day.
Budget your day around that, and make sure you stick to that schedule. If your day still runs over, this means you need to choose some tasks and schedule them the next day. If it’s not on a current deadline, do so.
So turn off your computer, take a bath, snuggle next to the wife, and rest well. For tomorrow, you’re doing another Category 1 and 2 list again.
Simple, right? Now, all you need is the willpower to stick to the list and learn to realize that not checking Facebook today will not result in severe stomach ulcers.
Sticking with your most important tasks until they are completed will guarantee you spend your time properly and achieve the most critically important things to your goals program.
Go For It . . . Your Goals ARE That Important!