Sunday, May 6, 2012

How to Prioritize

This week Alaina of lovinghandcrochet has written this amazing article on how to prioritize.  This can be tough for a lot of us.  With so many demands put on us we frequently find it all overwhelming.  Alaina outlines a simple and easy way to prioritize.

"If you're like me, you have way more to do than there is time to do it. It can seem overwhelming and make your days very frustrating and tiresome. Prioritizing your life helps immensely. Today I'm going to walk you through some steps to take that will help you organize your life.

courtesy of Pininterest

Step 1: Write down everything.
Write down all those things in your life you have to do, those you want to do, those you should do, those you like to do, dreams you have for the future, anything. Don't worry about organizing things yet, just write them as you think of them. This step is fairly intensive and can make you feel overwhelmed, but don't worry, I promise it won't last. Here's an example of a partial list of mine:

Step 2: Separate your list into categories.
Be completely honest and think hard about this step. Most of the things on your list will be fairly easy to place. Others will take much more thought. A few may switch categories as life goes on. Each person will categorize things differently as different things are more or less important to different people based on each person's circumstances.

courtesy of Pininterest

The first category should be your “have to” things. These are things that absolutely MUST be done. It should include things like eat, pay bills, go to work, sleep, caring for children, etc. Limit this list to things that would cause hardship if you didn't do them.

The second category should be your “should do” things. These are things that need done but can often wait if more essential things come up. It may include things like housework, yard work, exercise, dates with the husband or boyfriend, goals you've made, etc.

The third and final category should be your “want to” things. This is your dream category, and will likely be the most fun to fill up. This category will include things like hobbies, fun activities, vacations, things you want to do “one of these days”, etc.

Here is an example of how I categorized my partial list:


Step 3: Organize things in order of importance.
Take each category one at a time and reorder them in order of importance. This is a very personal thing and will likely take a lot of thought. Be very honest with yourself and don't worry about what is less or more important to someone else. The order will almost certainly change as life goes on so keep it flexible. You may find some things will switch categories as you think about them more.

Here's an example of how I organized my partial list (this one is a bit embarrassing to share):

Step 4: Try to do something from each category every day.
Obviously your “have to” category will get more attention than either of the others, but make time for some “should do's” and “want to's,” as well. You'll get stressed out if you concentrate on only one category and leave out the others, and if you ignore your “want to” category, life will be unfulfilling and this whole exercise will do little good. Even if you can only do a minute or two of a “want to” each day, you'll feel better.

I like to plan by weeks then days. I write down the things I want to accomplish during the week, choosing from all three categories. First from my “must do” things, then filling in with “should do” things, and always a few “want to” things, depending on how many “must do” things I'm forced to choose. Then I plan each day of the week choosing from the things I had on my weekly list. Here is an example:

The key to the planning is to not put so much on your to-do list that you can't get it all done. Make it reasonable while still getting your “must do” things completed, then if you have extra time, add some more from whichever category you like. Some weeks will have very little “want to” things and others will have a lot. You'll feel like you accomplished more if you finish your list and get to add other things than if you make a huge list and only get halfway through it. You may get the same amount done, but you'll feel much better about it.

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  1. I LOVE lists! I wouldn't ever be able to accomplish anything at all if I didn't have my daily and weekly "to do" lists. Thank you so much for showing me a better way to prioritise my list so that it feels more manageable.

  2. I make lists all the time. You're right about making sure you get to your want to list.

  3. I love organizing my lists must do, should do, want to do. I've fallen away from list making and from using that format. I can't believe how much of a difference it makes! Thanks for the trumpet call back to organization ;-)


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