Prioritising the things you need to do

Following on from yesterday’s post, Struggling with Overwhelm, it struck me that a lot of people really struggle with the next step of prioritising the things you need to do too.

So, here we are then.

How do you prioritise that long list you’ve just created?

journals and listsI really like this checklist by Brian Tracy in his book, “Eat That Frog!: Get more of the important tasks done today

Go through your list and give them the following codes:

A – “something that is very important, something that you must do. This is a task that will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it”. For example, if you don’t buy food, your family have nothing to eat, so you MUST buy food. Or, if your boss says, you MUST get that report done by the end of the day, “or else”.

B – This is something you should do. It only has mild consequences, like someone doesn’t like it, or they are inconvenienced. This may be taking the children somewhere you said you’d like to go, but it’s not a must do. Or, you’ve been meaning to read that article your colleague mentioned that you haven’t got around to.

C – This one is a nice to do. This would include coffee with a friend. It has no actual consequence if it happens or not (OK, we won’t talk me-time, or mental health just now. If you need to talk to someone about something, then it becomes a must do, and an A priority. Make sense?).

D – Delegate! You don’t have to do this. So, can someone else hoover the house, or take the bins out? Think about all the tasks that others can do, and then delegate them.

E – Eliminate. If this got crossed off the list, what would happen? Nothing? OK, get that pen out now and cross it off! It may be something you’ve been putting off, and is no longer needed. Don’t even think about the why. Just cross it off, and get on with doing the A list.

So, if you have 5 As on your list, you then give them an order. It should be much easier to see now which one you need to do first. Once that’s done, DO IT! It’s that simple! And you don’t move on to another task, until A1 is done. Totally.

One thing I’ve tasked the people I support to do, is write down 2 tasks in the diary/planner/online diary each day. That’s all. Just 2. From none to 2 can feel quite challenging, but if we start with 2 a day for now, (from the A list, and then B list if we’ve done all the As), we’re creating action and activity. They’ll find that they can start doing more, as either the tasks become smaller, or they manage their time better, or they just find the momentum allows them to get more done.

Sometimes the first few A tasks are delegating other tasks to other people. Or cancelling some of the C tasks. Just for now. I’m not saying you can’t have coffee. But if that’s one of the things that has been worrying you about how you fit that in, isn’t it better to postpone it for now, and then you’ll enjoy it more when you have more time?

How do you prioritise your job / client / work / personal / fitness / family tasks?

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