Prioritizing your to-do list is on your to-do list – but how do you prioritize, anyway?
Prioritization is generally defined as putting things in order of importance. However, importance, itself, is a subjective term. Because things can be characterized as “important” for different reasons, we may need to spend a moment considering both the reasons why a task is important as well as to whom it is important to ensure we’re prioritizing effectively.
Why does any of this matter? When we are behind on items of importance, it can negatively affect our health, causing stress and sleepless nights. On the other hand, when we get ahead of our priorities, we feel on top of things, which creates peace of mind.
When in doubt, we can engage these 5 scenarios to see where something lands on our priority list – and get it done once and for all!
Scenario 1: There’s a deadline.
When there is a hard date by which something needs to be completed – especially when there’s money (e.g. late fees) involved – it is imperative to address it in a timely fashion. Start by working backwards from the due date, break down a larger task into sub-tasks, and secure any supplies you might need to ensure it can be completed in time. Float items with deadlines to the top of your priority list, calendar reminders – and avoid waiting until the last minute to get started.
Scenario 2: It’s for yourself.
While we all strive to keep our spouses, bosses, and pets happy, prioritizing items that are important to our individual success and/or well-being should get bumped up on the list, and completed as quickly as possible. Who else is responsible for making sure our individual needs are met? Remember that self care is an act of love, in that when our needs are met, we have more to give.
Scenario 3: It’s for someone else.
Once we’re up to speed on important things we need to do for ourselves, it’s appropriate to consider the needs of others. This can be something that we complete on behalf of a boss, colleague, or a family member – whether it’s required for our job or in the spirit of generosity.
Scenario 4: It’s being procrastinated.
Some things sit on our list so long, we started ignoring them. Things we procrastinate are typically things we don’t want to start either because they’re unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or don’t seem fun. However, these are the exact things that are eligible for an upgrade.
Pair procrastinated items with a treat or go to your happy place to get started. This will help convince your mind into thinking it’s something you like – and you’ll feel relieved when it’s finally checked off the list.
Scenario 5: It’s easy/quick.
When we prioritize things that are easy and require minimal effort, they can get done quickly. And one less thing is one less thing!
How do you stay on top of your to-do list?