[Image source: Opening Paths]
The world is a busier place than ever before. There are so many things to do and so little time to do them. In order to get done what you want and need to do in order to live the life you want, you have to prioritise.
Prioritisation is a skill. And just like any skill, it gets stronger with practice.
I first got into prioritisation at the age of twenty one. I had a scholarship with Surf Life Saving Australia and as part of that scholarship, they provided me with an enormous amount of personal development opportunities. One of those opportunities was in developing organisational skills such as prioritisation. I learned all about urgent/not urgent and important/not important tasks. But that was just the beginning.
Prioritisation is a skill. And just like any skill, it gets stronger with practice. When I first started prioritising, it was recording what I had to do using that urgent/important framework. My prioritisation skills have evolved dramatically since then.
It’s important to understand the big picture. Prioritising so you can complete your tasks faster might make you more efficient, but that can easily lead to being busy for the sake of being busy. When you understand the strategic direction of where you’re heading and why, you can work smarter, not harder, by prioritising the tasks that matter. Then when those tasks are done, you can either get a head start on the next lot of tasks, or take a break.
My Top 5 Prioritisation Tips
- Plan ahead
The first step in good prioritisation is planning ahead. From having a clear picture of your long-term goals to your daily schedule, planning ahead enables you to have a clear understanding of what’s coming up and make adjustments as required. It also gives you an understanding of what realistically can be achieved in a particular time frame.
- Review your progress
If you’ve planned ahead and are prioritising your tasks on a long-term basis, it’s wise to review your progress. Not reviewing your progress is like sailing a ship with no rudder. You might be heading off into the sunset, but without continually checking in on your coordinates, you could end up anywhere. Check in with your planning so you can continue to prioritise the tasks that are important.
- Put the big rocks in the cup first
As those famous YouTube videos demonstrate, packing the big rocks into a cup first means you can fit more in the cup. Take action on the big tasks. These are the tasks that typically only you can do and those that give you the biggest results. Like the 80/20 rule, do the tasks that take 20 per cent of your time but give you 80 per cent result.
- Outsource/delegate the little rocks and sand
The smaller tasks are typically tasks that you can outsource if you’re an entrepreneur or delegate if you’re an employee. These tasks don’t give you much of a result but they do take up a lot of your time. These are just busy tasks. In terms of the 80/20 rule, these are the tasks that take up 80 per cent of your time but only give you 20 per cent result. These tasks are dangerous because you can fall into the trap of feeling like you’re really busy, but in actual fact, you’re achieving very little.
- Let all else go
If it doesn’t fit with your long-term goals or effect the day-to-day operations at your workplace, let it go. We all have great ideas of what we want to achieve but sometimes we just don't have the time do them all right now. People overestimate what they can achieve in a year but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.
There are a million things we could all be doing. And we all have people pulling us in all directions, full of their own agendas. It’s easy to get caught up on the next big thing or taking on more than you can chew if you’re not clear on the big picture or why you’re doing it. Know what you want and why so you can say yes to what moves you in the direction you want to go in and no to what pulls you away.
What productivity tips do you implement in your life?
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