Priority

Work smarter not harder – Repeating the phrase innumerable times has not resulted in people being able to understand the meaning, importance and technique of doing so. Somehow we fall into this trap of slogging away and in that process we do not realize that working hard does not always mean that we are doing the right things.

You may realize after continuing to do hard work for a month that you still miss deadlines, get caught with surprises that you have not planned for and forever find yourself creating excuses for being later. Sure, you are a fast worker and complete you tasks quickly and faster than anyone could imagine but still find yourself struggling to manage time in your life. The fact of the matter is that when you are so busy running and rushing through all the work in your life, you do not realize that you are probably running in circles.

Only by changing your working style to become more effective can help you realize your goals on schedule. This will ensure that every action of yours has a purpose. Unwanted interruptions will no longer distract you while you are focused. And you may suddenly find that your life seems to be under your control. You meet deadlines, complete things on time, are never later for meetings or anything for that matter and you are not caught surprised with unexpected events that disrupt your plans, eventually leading to a state where your life is planned, tension free and in control.

Being able to be in control does not come by magic. It comes from planning and acting on it. In a day there are many tasks and chores that you need to complete. What you need to do is to segregate these activities into a priority list – ‘must dos’ and ‘should dos’. The essential ones or ‘must dos’ are those that if not attended immediately, would result in more time and energy to deal with later. Paying the insurance premium of your car, taking an appointment with the dentist for a long standing tooth problem, repair the leaking roof, show up on time for the departmental meeting would occupy this list. Attending the sports day of your child or taking your family out for a dinner should also come in this category as they are no less important to your success and sense of values.

‘Should dos’ are those activities that can be postponed by a couple of days. However, that doesn’t mean they should be done on the third day itself! The key here is to devote 80% of your time in doing the ‘must dos’ activities and the 20% of your time in finishing the ‘should dos’ ones.

If you are a natural planner then prioritizing your activities can be done mentally and does not need you to sit down with a physical list. But if you have had an issue with time management all your life, it is highly recommended to start with a pen and paper and jot down your activities for the day. When such a practice turns into a habit, you will soon realize that you do no longer need to jot them down and can prioritize your work on your way to office or while taking a bath.

Not all the activities in the ‘must dos’ list will contribute towards accomplishment of your goals, but ignoring them would eventually cause more stress and time later, thereby affecting your overall efficiency. For example, if you keep postponing taking an appointment with the dentist, it may manifest into a grave problem later, requiring more time and resources. Also if there are many such unfinished tasks, they may keep bothering you every now and then, preventing you from thinking clearly on your main goals.

Vishal P. Rao share his insights and tips on holistic living at Relishing Life

Love this article?