Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 15, 2021

How to Master the Art of Prioritization the Right Way

How to Master the Art of Prioritization the Right Way

Did you know that prioritization is an art? In fact, it is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks at work, school, or in your personal life, prioritization can bring clarity and successful time management into the picture.

Prioritization involves taking a good look at what you have on your plate each day and figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave for the end. This is a skill that takes a good amount of analysis and clear-headed thinking, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it will make your life easier and more seamless.

How to Achieve Effective Prioritization

There are two approaches to prioritizing the tasks in your to-do list that I often see.

Tackle the Biggest Tasks First

The idea is that by tackling the biggest and most important tasks first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method, which follows this idea.[1]

Once the big things are off your plate, you feel less stressed with the small tasks that await afterward. For some, this seems to lead to a smoother process when trying to get things done.

Advertising

Tackle the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily First

Proponents of this method believe that by establishing priorities and tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness after a few quick wins.

If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls, and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

This can also lead to less stress as your mind won’t be pulled in so many directions if many small tasks are marked off your list.

With either of the above approaches, you’ll need motivation to carry out the tasks that you have prioritized. Check out this Actionable Motivation On Demand Handbook to give yourself a boost and get things done.

Your Approach for Prioritization

When tackling simple prioritization techniques, it’s important to go through a few simple steps to prepare yourself to get things done. Here are some tips to get you started.

Advertising

1. Find Your Stress Triggers

The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies entirely on your personality, work ethic, and way of organizing your life.

Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks, or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed.

At this point, you need to first discover what will stress you out more. Do you get anxious and stressed when faced with a few large tasks or many small tasks? Whichever causes the most stress is the one that should get done first.

2. Make a To-Do List

Without a to-do list, it’s impossible to prioritize, as you don’t know exactly what needs to get done each day. For the best results, try making a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list. This will keep you organized and ensure you don’t miss any important work or urgent tasks.

3. Analyze Costs and Benefits

Each task on your to-do list has a cost and benefits that come with it. The highest priority tasks are often those that are high cost/high benefit, but the tasks you should focus on first with your prioritization method are usually low cost/high benefit tasks. This is known as the Scales Method, and you can learn more about it here.

Advertising

4. Know Your Peaks and Troughs

I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at a specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming and try to keep my schedule flexible enough that I can adapt.

If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

What time of the day do you often feel most productive? That is the time you should work on your high-priority tasks. The times when you are feeling sleepy or unmotivated are best used for low cost/low benefit tasks.

The Bottom Line

Prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. Most will work for a group of people and will help get them on track.

What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of prioritization rules until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

Advertising

If the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

Once you’ve discovered what motivates you and helps you feel the most productive, stick with it until you feel you’ve lost touched with a sense of accomplishment. That’s when it may be time to move on to a better prioritization system for your changing needs.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Joel Falconer

Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

3 Simple Strategies for Dealing With External Distractions How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Get More Done in Less Time How to Master the Art of Prioritization the Right Way The Importance of Scheduling Downtime How to Make Decisions Under Pressure

Trending in Focus

1 Why Making Yourself a Priority Boosts Your Productivity 2 How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster 3 Take Control of Your Focus! How to Avoid Distractions 4 How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus 5 How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 12, 2021

Why Making Yourself a Priority Boosts Your Productivity

Why Making Yourself a Priority Boosts Your Productivity

Conventional wisdom centers around giving more of yourself to others in your life than you would to what you want to accomplish. You’re taught to make sacrifices and put your needs secondary because that’s how you’ll become a better person. However, not making yourself a priority is keeping you from accomplishing your goals and getting more done.

Let me know if this sounds familiar. You work hard all day to accomplish your goals. During your moments of focus, there are requests from others and demands from outside distractions on your time. You start each day with a to-do list of items that you want to accomplish. By the time you come to the end of your day, you haven’t completed what you wanted. If you were to analyze your time, you would see that the reason is you’re constantly being distracted.

There’s a significant difference between being selfish and being self-centered. I won’t give you the analogy that you hear every time you get on an airplane, but if you’re going to accomplish your goals, you have to stop drowning—in a figurative sense.

The reality is that you’re giving more of yourself to others than you are giving to your goals and vision of the future. By not making yourself a priority, your goals have become secondary.

Here are six important reasons why everyone should understand the importance of self-prioritization. The key to getting more done starts with taking care of yourself first and foremost.

1. You Create the Bandwidth You’ll Need to Focus on Your Goals When You Make Yourself a Priority

It takes a lot of yourself to consistently put in the work that helps you get more done and accomplish your goals. You need energy, bandwidth, and mental clarity to wake up every day and work hard.

Advertising

By making yourself a priority, it allows you to see the path to accomplishment. Too many people aren’t accomplishing their goals because their goals get lost in the busyness of taking care of others. It becomes a negative habit and a complacent way to live life.

Life rarely works out as expected, and as you’re working on your goals, you’re going to experience unexpected setbacks. You need bandwidth and mental strength to withstand those frustrating moments and still maintain the motivation to accomplish your goals.

The vital part of accomplishment is that you are working on your goals.

When you are working on what you want to accomplish to make yourself better, you can stay focused on what it will take to get there. You learn to say no to anything that will derail your path, and this creates more space and time to work on what you need to. Create the proper bandwidth through self-prioritizing.

2. Focused Energy Leads to More Production

Disorganization affects productivity. When it feels like you’re being pulled in many different directions, you can’t focus and create the energy needed for consistent production. A scattered mind leads to half-accomplished goals.

We know that in goal-setting, we need a plan. This plan has to be centered around what you want to accomplish. Self-prioritization allows you to create a plan that’s focused on the specific actions and steps it will take to achieve your goals.

Advertising

As you take action in an organized way, this leads to more production because your focus and energy are around the goals you know will help you be better and accomplish more. You simply get more done when you have the energy to do so.

3. Prioritizing Yourself Builds Clarity on What Boundaries You Should Set and Keep

Deep inside, you know when you should be saying no instead of saying yes. When you agree to anything that could derail your focus, it eats away at you inside. Prioritizing yourself and your goals helps you set boundaries and keep them because of the intense focus.

There will always be attempts and requests for your time and attention. As you start to build up yourself and accomplish more, others will notice. This will bring demand for your energy and your focus. If you give in to these requests, you won’t have the necessary bandwidth needed to work on your goals consistently.

Setting boundaries is an integral part of goal setting and living a healthy life. You have to be firm about what you allow and what you will not tolerate in your life. Human nature tends to lean towards people-pleasing—when you focus on pleasing others, you don’t please yourself.

Prioritize your goals and the things that you want to accomplish in your life. That’s the operative thing to understand—this is your life, and the focus has to be on what you want to achieve in that life. Use self-prioritization to clarify what boundaries need to be set and make sure you hold these boundaries firmly.

4. Sustainable Productivity happens With excitement for What You’re Working On

There are many reasons why people don’t accomplish their goals, but one that is not often thought about is a lack of excitement. When you spend the whole time working on things that drain you, your productivity diminishes with every second.

Advertising

Letting outside circumstances dictate your goals leads to a lack of excitement. By not focusing on making yourself a priority, you’re not creating an environment in which you are thrilled to be working on your goals. It will take a lot of hard work over a sustained period of time to accomplish your significant goals and be productive. It’s going to require energy and bandwidth to overcome the setbacks and stay focused.

Prioritizing yourself allows you to set challenging goals, but the outcome is exciting. If you look at what you’re working on and it’s not exciting, you won’t have sustainability. A lack of motivation will drain your productivity.

You’re a human being, not a machine. There will be things in your life that are not an exciting part of this process, but there has to be a balance between work and play. Work-life balance happens when the life part has an equal priority. Prioritizing what you want creates that balance and amplifies productivity.

5. It’s Mentally and Emotionally Freeing to Let Go of Outside Expectations

We are programmed to take on the baggage of outside circumstances. We’re taught that to be a good human being, we should take on what others are going through. By prioritizing yourself, you’ll come to understand that you are responsible for your life, and that involves your mental well-being.

Prioritizing yourself helps you see that you have to let go of the expectations of others. This is your life, and you have to live in the best way that you see fit. It’s important for you to spend the precious moments you have on this earth working on your goals and the things that help you live a better life.

When you let go of outside expectations of what you should be doing and how you should be doing it, it frees up bandwidth and creates mental clarity to be productive. No longer are you walking around with the burden of what others expect from you, it’s time to spend your time the way you’d like to.

Advertising

Other people’s expectations of your life don’t have to be part of your plan. It’s your responsibility to set the goals that help you live a free life and spend your time exactly how you’d like to spend it. Make yourself a priority by letting go and focusing on yourself first and foremost.

6. Optimizing Yourself Builds Every Area of Your Life

You’re probably working on your goals because you want to become the best version of yourself and create a life that brings more time freedom. The path to higher income, better relationships, more travel, and all the other things you want to accomplish happen through self-optimization and productive life.

When you can optimize yourself, it helps you be better in every other area of your life. The key to optimizing yourself starts by prioritizing yourself in more than just words. When you take action from a place of “you-first,” you’ll have the energy and capacity needed to push harder for longer.

Make yourself a priority by focusing on optimizing yourself and all the things you want to accomplish. Everything inside you might be screaming to help others first, but you can’t give what you don’t have. The best place to share is from a place of abundance, and that comes from optimizing yourself.

Final Thoughts

It’s time to take better care of yourself. It’s time to treat yourself as the most significant goal because that should always be the case. What you’d like to accomplish and your path to get there have to be a priority before you think about others.

The demands and energy of others can derail you if you let it. Self-prioritization means that you decide where your boundaries will be set and not allow others to violate them. You’ve probably spent a lot of your time up to this point focused on other people and outside circumstances. It’s time to take a dedicated period of time to put yourself first. You deserve a productive life.

Advertising

Debunk the programming that there’s something wrong with putting yourself first and making your goals the primary priority. You can always help others and be there for those who need you while making yourself a priority. It’s not an either-or situation—it’s a situation in which you can help strategically.

More Tips on How to Make Yourself a Priority

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Read Next