Life often feels complicated, but there are always ways to simplify.
We can make things easier on ourselves by focusing on the things that matter most and dropping the rest. In other words, we can learn to prioritize.
Prioritizing can be difficult. It’s hard to just abandon something that we have always done, or something that we committed to doing. I find that if we take some of the emotion out of the decision-making, it becomes much clearer which things have to go.
I use a really simple system to prioritize my schedule. When you start to get overwhelmed by everything you need to do, try this out…
Start with a list. Write out all of the things you “have to” do today, and re-evaluate them individually. For each item on your list, ask yourself two questions:
1. Does this add value to my life or the life of a person that I care about?
2. Do I want to do this?
If the answer is no to both, then BUH BYE. Take it off the list. Making time for these inferior tasks will only take away from the more important ones.
For the items where you answered yes to one question but no to the other, things can get a little murky. Keep these ones on the list for now. This is where prioritizing becomes important.
We can now order the remaining list of to-dos by considering the level of urgency and effort required for each task. The items that fall to the bottom are worth reconsidering. Should they REALLY still be on the list?
Here’s an example of my to-do list from yesterday. I wrote down every task I wanted to do during the day as well as how long I expected each one to take.
And here’s how I organized it…
Sundays are usually my slowest day of the week so this one was relatively easy to organize. Even so, the key is always to find the loopholes, which we really only notice once we write it all down and think it through. For example, I got rid of my workout for the day since I was getting exercise elsewhere, and I also added in a podcast while I made lunches in order to combine a mindless task with some education. (Whenever I’m doing something mindless I try to listen to a podcast or audiobook.)
These were really positive changes to my schedule, and I might not have made them if I hadn’t written them down and seen how they would fit in the context of my whole day.
On days where I have a much busier schedule, I make a plan for what I want to accomplish on that day as well as the day after. That way, I am at least able to accomplish the most important things first and can shift the leftovers to the following day if necessary.
Planning ahead allows me to use my time efficiently and helps me realize I don’t need to do it all in just a few hours (talk about a stress reliever!). I can prioritize the things that matter right now, and save the rest for another day. Whew.
What do you do to manage a busy schedule?
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