What a Waste of a Day This Was!

Time & Life Management

What a Waste of a Day This Was!

Be Wise, Prioritize

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dear Juli,

I often feel like I am doing lots of things but then important stuff seems to get shoved off and I don’t deal with it. I’m busy all the time, but there are still crucial things I should be doing and I don’t. What do you suggest? – Susan S.

Dear Susan,

A person can keep themselves busy, as there is always much to do, but unfortunately many chose the wrong tasks with which to keep themselves busy. It can be upsetting to feel like you didn’t get anything done at the end of a day even though you were running around the entire time. The solution here is to be able to prioritize and correctly choose what really is important.

For example: If you have to take someone to the hospital, you don’t have any choices to concern yourself with because that is a pretty much the top priority. It is not just important but urgent. That task will get handled, period. However, when it is something like cleaning up the kitchen from last night, or paying bills, or putting away files, versus calling a friend and making plans for next week, well, there we often have problems.

It is easy to choose something with a little more pizzazz and excitement than those items which are actually important. We often leave important tasks until the last minute – when they become urgent – or forget about them until it’s too late.

To avoid falling into the trap of spinning your wheels – by doing things that keep you feeling busy yet aren’t really so important –

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this task the best use of my time right now?
  2. Is there something else on my list that should be done first?
  3. If I don’t do XYZ on my list today will something negative happen?

One easy way to avoid spinning your wheels or falling into another trap – the trap of running around doing tasks using the “putting out fires” method – is to plan ahead. If you have a pre-thought-out plan, you can make better decisions even if something unexpected crops up.

The secret is to set up the template for success from the beginning. So, to start:

  1. Set aside a few minutes at the end of your day to plan tomorrow. The night before is the best time to plan your day.
  2. Write down the top five items you need to do and schedule when and how you are going to do them.
  3. Look over your list and ask yourself: “If nothing gets done today but one thing, which must it be?” Prioritize that item by numbering it as #1. Now ask yourself the same question regarding the remaining items, mark the next most-important task #2, and so on down the list.

Start your day with the item marked #1 and get it done. By taking the decision-making process out of the equation you can get to the task at hand versus running through the list in your mind and giving in to what your emotions chose versus what your mind has pre-decided with thought.

When your tasks are prioritized you will be spending your valuable time doing the most important items first, your busy time will turn into productive time, and you will feel as though you accomplished something.

Have a productive day!