How to Make Priorities When Everything Feels Like a Priority

by Carly Ries Carly Ries | Apr 13, 2021 5:19:17 PM

"My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.” - Bill Gates

We all have 24 hours in a day, so why are some people so much more productive with that time than others? Sure, some people are just innately efficient (good for them!), but honestly, what it comes down to is that the most successful people only focus on a few things at a time.

So many people put too much on their plates and it becomes nearly impossible to excel at the tasks on their lists. They become jacks of all trades and masters of none.

But how do you make priorities when everything is a priority? You must be selective and put some things on the back burner.

We realize some of the things on your to-do list may seem mandatory whether you want/are able to do them or not, however, some of those things may be more in your control than you think.

For example, let’s say your boss asks you to do something. That seems like something that would be hard to get out of. However, if you have a lot on your plate and won’t do the task well, let your boss know ahead of time to see if it can be reassigned to someone else who can dedicate more time to it. You’ll get less on your plate and the task will be done well, which should be your boss’s primary objective, not who gets it done.

Take that example and see where you can apply it to other areas of your life as well.

Here are some clear steps to help you prioritize when it seems like the most difficult thing to do.

Actionable Steps

Have a Brain Dump Session

Get all of the to-dos in your life out of your head, notes app, post-it notes, email, voice memos, and whatever other location you jot things down, and get them into one central location. 

Prioritize Your List

Once your list is compiled, figure out what needs to be done in the near future, what you can put on hold, and what you can simply get rid of. Assess the value of each task and use this to put them into each of these categories. For the things you need to get done soon, start working on them, and then revisit this list (as it will assuredly evolve) weekly to go through the same exercise so you can continue to prioritize the things that are most important.

Identify Other Qualified and Reliable People

Some tasks hold equal value and need to get completed around the same time. For those tasks, ask yourself if you need to be the one to do it or if there is another qualified person you can delegate to.

Break Big Tasks into Smaller Tasks

Sometimes the highest priority tasks are also the most robust. Break these tasks down into sub-tasks (and sub-tasks of sub-tasks) until you have much smaller items to cross off your list. These smaller tasks will be easier to prioritize because they’ll seem less daunting, but once you add them up, that high priority task you started with will be complete.

Keep Track of Your Time

Conduct an audit to see how long things actually take you. This way, when you’re faced with a new task or project, you can decide if you have enough time to prioritize it or need to figure something else out.

Put Guidelines in Place

One final way to help you prioritize is to set guidelines and standards for yourself. If the task or request doesn’t meet them, then don’t do them.

Food for thought: Take an inventory of your current tasks. Which of them can you start to hone in on and which can you save for later, delegate, or get rid of?

This post is a part of series of posts that give a preview of our upcoming guide, Unleash Your Inner Awesome: Motivational Quotes With Actionable Steps to Help You Reach Your Goals and Achieve Great Things. To learn when this guide will be released and get access to it, be sure to follow us on social!

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