Regardless of which industry you work in, or whether you work for yourself or a large company, learning how to prioritize is an important part of finding success. So, whether you are facing a large project or just need to get a handle on your life, the tips below can help you get organized and on your way to productive days.
Get acquainted with lists.
You can’t be expected to remember everything, which is why lists should become your friend. Now, we’re not talking about scraps of paper that you leave next to the coffee pot. Instead, find a note-taking method that works best for you. There are helpful apps you can download on your mobile devices, like Todoist or Evernote, that can be accessed from anywhere. Whichever method works best for you, be sure that what you need to accomplish in a day is stored in a safe place.
Identify time wasters.
You most likely know exactly what takes up more than its fair share of time in a day, whether it’s social media, the employee that needs too much help, or your mother who calls five times a day. You may not be able to do much about your specific time waster, but you can identify it and keep it in mind. There may be ways to mitigate the time you waste, however, recognizing where your time is being spent can help you feel less overwhelmed.
Scale the urgency vs. the importance of each task.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix has been used for decades as a way to manage time. Based on the Dwight D. Eisenhower quote above, this method can help you distinguish where you should focus your energy. The matrix forces us to rethink our schedules to determine exactly which tasks require the most attention by placing each important item in the four quadrant matrix based on the following criteria:
- Urgent tasks need immediate attention and are usually accomplished in a hurried and negative mindset.
- Important tasks contribute to long-term mission, values, and goals.
Similar to the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, when you feel overwhelmed it’s important to know what to cut out when you find yourself short on time. Instead of reserving this task for the last minute freak-out, decide beforehand what you will take out of your schedule if necessary. You can do this by assessing the value of each task before you start your day. Preparing yourself for the fact that you cannot accomplish everything ahead of time helps prevent frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
Keep track of time spent on tasks.
Rather than becoming a clock-watcher, try to keep track of about how long various tasks take you. This is an important aspect of prioritizing for two reasons. One, it helps you schedule next time. Two, it prevents you from wasting time on tasks that aren’t urgent or important. Once a task is complete, make a note for yourself somewhere that you will be able to find later.
Leave time for yourself.
In each day, it’s important to schedule yourself time for self-care. This can be a cup of coffee, a half hour to read, or even fifteen minutes of mindless Instagram scrolling. Whatever activity helps you disengage is important, if only for a moment.
An important part of prioritizing is knowing when to ask for help when there’s too much on your plate. There are plenty of tools and services to help you stay organized. Stay tuned to the Midphase blog for the latest tips and digital trends.
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