Priority Setting: Make your To-Do List Work For You

Are you constantly in the struggle of too many things to do, not enough time, money, resources, or attention to give?

One thing that many of us struggle with on a regular basis is where our time and attention go. Unfortunately, for many of us, it does not even seem like we are getting to make the choice of where either go. We almost end up  becoming victims to our schedules, our activities, responsibilities. Whether you feel chained to your calendar or imprisoned by the 90 million things you are a part of, hopefully you will find a little light at the end of the tunnel today.

The steps to taking back your time through priority setting:

  1. Determine everything you are a part of, attend, are responsible for, and wish you had time for. Consider the many area of your life as you do this exercise. These areas are a good starting point – family, career, financial, social, spiritual, physical, and intellectual.
  2. Evaluate how much time you spend on each task, event, program, responsibility, activity, etc. Consider along side this, how much time you wish you were spending on it.

    Actual Hs/wk

    Wished Hrs/wkAction Step to make ChangeWho Will Help
  3. Calculate how many hours per week your schedule dictates you have. For many of us — especially women we come in over 200 hours per week. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are only 168 hours in any given week. NO wonder things are not getting accomplished! Don’t forget to this for the wishful time frames as well. Do you need more time or less?
  4. Minimize and Eliminate! Utilize those wishful numbers to help you determine what areas you would rather be focusing your time. Anything you wish you were spending 0 hours a week on, see how you can make it so! Outsource, quit it, break it down into pieces and delegate, do whatever you have to in order to not do that thing any more! The same thing is true for those items that you are spending lots of hours on now, but wish were spending very few. 
  5. Set Responsibility – far too often part of the reason we have too much on our plate is because we do things that are really someone else’s job, or that someone could very easily help us with. TAKE THE HELP! Try to find a person for at least 25% of your tasks that can either take it over or share responsibility with you. 
  6. Compare. We all have a value system we live by… or would like to… when you look at the things that you are spending the most amount of time on versus the ones you wish you were spending the most amount of time on, how do they line up with the values you wish to display in your life?
  7. Decide. Pick the top 2-3 areas, tasks, activities, responsibilities, etc that mean the most to you. List these things out everyday — if something comes up involving one of them while you are doing something else see if it is possible to switch gears, or find time to address it as soon as possible. Contrarily, if while you are doing one of these top 2-3 items and something not on this list comes up do everything you can to not interrupt the time for these particular tasks/activities.
    1. Example, if you have decided you are not spending enough time with your family and that is the number one thing that needs to change… Set up an email autoresponder for Saturdays when you are at your kids games, turn off the phone, plan to make a meal together or go out to eat so you do not have to take your attention away from them. Schedule a sacred date night in the calendar, and treat it like a meeting with your bosses, boss — do not let it get changed for anything! 
  8. Time Block – When have something planned into our schedules sometimes it is easier to adhere to. If you forget to call your mom, schedule it in. If you avoid your prospecting calls. Does going to the gym always get lost in the mix? Put it on your calendar… tell someone that is going to make you accountable… set up a reward for following through.
  9. Do this for the daily. It is just as, if not more, important to know our daily priorities as it is to know our long-tern overlying priorities.  For these I like to focus on the 1-3 things that are going to produce INCOME, HAPPINESS, or PEACE of MIND.  Most people will tell you Income producing activities (ipas) are the most important, which I agree with you 90% of the time… however you do need to listen to yourself and your needs. 
    1. Example: Being such a organization queen, if things are out of place, I can absolutely not focus. So if I need to write a report, make calls or whatever else, it will not work until I first get my things in order… which for me is a total piece of mind activity. 
      1. Hint: Be sure you are not using peace of mind and happiness activities as excuses to avoid the really important and powerful income producing activities that you really should be doing.
  10. DO IT. You have them written down, time blocked, you have figured out who is going to help… now what is stopping you from completing these things first! That is right FIRST! Don’t answer emails or check facebook, don’t call your friend, or take the dog for an extra walk. Sit down, turn off unnecessary distractions, set a timer (helps keep me focused), put your head down and get stuff done. You can do it!

There is a wise person that once said, the things we avoid are generally the things we most need to be doing. Sometimes you just need to stuck it up, pull up your britches, and get to work. Then when you are done, go back and figure out what was so hard about getting started in the first place.

Do you have any fun ways you determine your priorities? Has setting daily priorities changed your life?  We would love to hear from you – comment below or feel free to share this on your favorite social media platform.

Posted in Tips and Tricks.