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About Everything Wiki » Productivity » How to prioritize your career and personal life in 7 steps

How to prioritize your career and personal life in 7 steps

14 Jan 2024, 12:00, parser
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You can listen to a short version of the article. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

Remember that you recently answered the question "How are you?" to your friends. Perhaps you said that you were "very busy" or that you had "a lot of things to do and no time for yourself at all." These are typical answers. Unfortunately, only a few people know how to manage their time competently. We waste precious minutes on nonsense and realize our mistakes when it's too late. As a result, we either greatly simplify the goals, or simply do not achieve them.

Imagine that in the morning you need to get up early to catch an important work meeting, and the night before you accidentally discover a new interesting series. You watch it half the night, wake up much later than you should, and rush to work as fast as you can without having time to prepare. It's all the fault of the wrong designation of priorities. Instead of turning on episode after episode, you could go to bed early, wake up in a good mood and set up for a meeting.

Why is it important to identify priorities

The philosophy of proper use of time is simple — you don't need to worry that there is little time left, but focus on how to make the most of it. And the only way to do this is to learn how to prioritize correctly.

Of course, you've heard about this before. But how often have you actually sat down at the table and sorted out daily tasks by priority? This needs to be done regularly for several reasons.

If you need to do a lot of things every day, you can't do without a system that helps to cope with everything. Prioritization makes it possible to assign tasks in order depending on their importance. And this method leads to positive changes:

  • Increases productivity. When we identify the most important tasks and set aside time to complete them, our performance improves significantly, which means we are doing more than usual.
  • Reduces anxiety and stress levels. When we have a huge list of tasks in front of us, and there is not much time left, we start to worry. Prioritization helps to reduce the to-do list and use time wisely.
  • Expands the possibilities. When we focus on the most important tasks, we achieve goals faster and notice new directions for growth.

What helps to identify priorities

1. Understand the value of tasks

Before sorting tasks, it is necessary to determine the degree of importance of each of them. To do this, ask yourself what exactly you will get as a result. There are three types of value:

  • Instant. For example, when you call a colleague to find out important information for a project you are currently working on.
  • Short-term. It is illustrated by putting things in order on the desktop — the documents will be perfectly sorted until the mess forms again.
  • Long-term. Let's say you want to lose weight and sign up for the gym; you'll have to sweat for several months to see the result.

When you invest in your time, fill your days and hours with activities, you make them valuable for your future. Therefore, understand what is important to you, and then act.

2. Get rid of unnecessary tasks

We rarely plan our daily activities ourselves, so our brain automatically does it for us and prioritizes tasks, only unconsciously. Some of them bring us closer to our goals, others do not give any visible results. That is why it seems to us that we are constantly busy — not all our actions are related to what we want in the future. As a result, we waste our time on unnecessary things. For many, it turns into a broken record and repeats over and over again, every day, month and year.

Imagine a simple scenario. You are going to China for a week. This is your first visit to the country, so you want to do a lot of things — see the main sights and eat at the best restaurants. Studying the country itself and the issues related to the trip can be a bit confusing. Where to begin? Buy a plane ticket? Book a hotel? What if you like a hotel that is too far from the sights? Then perhaps it's better to make a list of places you want to visit first?

So many questions can make your head spin. That's what prioritization is for. Write down all your questions, get rid of those that contain minor worries, and act.

3. Divide tasks into categories

Another question that greatly facilitates the prioritization process: what is your goal? The answer will help to clearly define the tasks and ways to solve them. Once the to-do list is ready, divide it into three categories:

  • It must be done. These tasks are extremely important to achieve the goal. They need to be completed first, sparing no resources and time. If you take the example of a trip to China, buying tickets and booking a hotel will fall into this category.
  • It's worth doing. This includes everything that is important, but not critical. If you ignore such tasks, the result will decrease slightly. For example, if you do not make a list of attractions in advance, you can forget about some of them during the trip.
  • Would be nice to do. These are optional tasks that do not affect the outcome of the case in any way. For example, small questions from the category "which cap to take with you to China, and which one to leave at home."

A list of tasks by category will help you free up time and manage it wisely. Moreover, it is suitable for any sphere of life: it does not matter if you work full-time, look after children or combine both.

4. Put the tasks in order

The next step is to count the number of tasks and arrange them in order. This is especially useful when you have several cases in the same category at once.

Evaluate the importance of the tasks within each group again. This way you will understand what you should do first. Do not forget about one of the main principles of prioritization — the essence is not in the number of completed tasks, but in the quality of execution.

5. Create a master list

It is impossible to prioritize tasks correctly if you keep them only in your head. This is exactly what the master list is useful for — a summary list of all the cases. Put them in notes on your phone or in a document on your computer, break them down into categories and arrange them in order. This way you can easily add items and make changes if necessary.

6. Use different productivity methods

If the master list doesn't help you figure out what to postpone and what to do right now, try other productivity methods. For example, use the Pareto principle, according to which 20% of efforts produce 80% of the result. Or pay attention to the Eisenhower matrix, which suggests dividing tasks into four categories: urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, non-urgent and important and non-urgent and unimportant. Or choose any other method that is convenient for you.

7. Develop a strategy

After you have prioritized the tasks, you will need to choose a strategy for their implementation. It is best to start with the largest and most difficult, but paramount tasks. When you deal with them, it will energize you and inspire you to move on.

Effective time management is just a piece of a huge puzzle of changes that you can make on the way to a better future. Usually, difficulties arise not because of one wrong decision, but because of a whole chain of events. If you are unhappy with the way your destiny is shaping up, it's time to reconsider what and how exactly you are doing. Change the course of your thoughts and your life will be transformed.

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