With a focus on what’s important, we can all achieve our goals and live the life we want. Without priorities, everything becomes either essential and urgent, or a series of reactions and aimless wanderings.
So, in order to achieve our goals, where do we begin? Vision, is an essential first step to prioritizing. A popular way of prioritize daily and weekly tasks is to rank each one, regarding urgency and importance.
Actually, these are two separate qualities that are important to understand. Urgency means how quickly something needs to be done, while importance is what is meaningful for your happiness.
Here’s how tasks might look using these categories:
• Important and urgent tasks are meaningful to us and have time constraints that require immediate action. These types of activities are often unexpected, which contributes to the urgency factor. Without proper planning, though, lots of things can end up in this category.
• Not important but urgent tasks are usually the mundane tasks that keep life moving forward. Emails, meetings, and appointments that represent obligations end up here. Having a lot in this category means life may be running us instead of the other way round.
• Tasks that are not important or urgent are ones we can consider eliminating from our life. If employment or personal obligations fall primarily in this category, it may be time to reevaluate how we are spending time and what is important for us moving forward.
• Not urgent but important tasks represent areas where we should be dedicating our time and prioritizing tasks best. These represent tasks that say we are in charge of life and doing things that matter to us.
Being clear about goals and values helps us spend more time in this last category. It also helps to remove the clutter in life that is leading us astray from our goals.
Understanding how to categorize our activities can help us recognize how we are spending time to determine if it is in our best interests.
Remember, everything we choose to say yes to is a potential opportunity for us to say no to something else. Saying no to unnecessary obligations in life gives us more time for those things that are important.
Saying yes to what matters means we are spending our time on things that are a personal priority for us alone, not something or someone else.
It’s important that our priorities are not just for long-term goals but also for the day-to-day activities that drive our lives. It can be hard to avoid distraction, but being clear about our priorities each and every day will help achieve our dreams in the long run.
By choosing our own priorities, we are crafting our future, our vision. If we don’t prioritize our own life, someone else will do it, and who wants that?
Setting Priorities 101
Learning how to set priorities is an essential life skill that many of us have a hard time implementing in our daily lives.
There is so much in today’s world that vies for our attention over what really matters that it’s no wonder we often feel like we aren’t accomplishing anything.
How we spend our time and the actions we take are our priorities. While it may seem like we have one set of priorities in our mind, when we actually examine how we spend the day, it’s easy to see that our actions may not be aligning with our perceived priorities.
Here are four steps to setting priorities each day:
Step 1. Define Your Roles.
You play many roles in your life. Consider each one and how important it is to your desired outcome. Roles relate to your work, your family, your personal life, your beliefs system, your hobbies, and much more.
Define each role you play and prioritize how important each is in your life right now. Write these roles down to help you maintain focus.
Which of these are mandatory and which are optional or occasional? Are there any roles you currently play that hold little importance for you now? Are there any roles you are hoping to play in the future?
Step 2. Consider Time Sensitivity
Whether you are prioritizing for the short or long term, it’s important to know what is happening in your life that is urgent or important and what can wait. If you have deadlines approaching, how does this impact your priorities? If something is important to you, how are you making time for it in your priorities each day?
Step 3. Plan Your Day
Using what you’ve considered related to your roles and their priorities, as well as your upcoming deadlines, decide what you are going to focus on today.
Acting strategically each day with a focus on each of the important roles you play in your life will help you accomplish your goals and use your time in the best ways possible.
Be sure not to forget to outline personal roles as well as professional so you guarantee you get the balance you need in your life.
We commit to a lot each day, and without a reminder of which is important and necessary, it’s easy to let distractions get in the way. Planning your day allows you to develop routines that keep life’s unexpected events manageable without becoming overwhelmed.
You need to dedicate different amounts of time each day to different roles in your life, but once you see how you need to spend your time, you can decide if you need to reevaluate your various roles and their importance.
Step 4. Avoid Distractions
To avoid spending too much time on the things in your life that are not helping you reach your goals, you need to review your priorities daily. What’s important may shift from day to day or week to week.
Emergencies and unexpected events can force you to shift things, as well. Keeping on top of your priorities helps you stay focused. Free time is still important, so be sure it’s a priority, too. Relaxation is essential to helping maintain your forward momentum.
Be setting priorities and using them to plan your days, you can improve your focus, reduce your stress, achieve consistent progress toward your goals, and organize your life to combat the power of distractions. All these will help you lead the life you want and do the work that matters most.