With so much competing for our time, energy and focus, if you don’t set your daily priorities, someone else will. Between interruptions, distractions and the never-ending to-do list, it’s difficult to get things done. We are here to help guide you into the habit of prioritizing what matters.
When identifying your priorities, it’s important to start with determining your values. Knowing your values helps you get clear on your priorities, which helps you manage your time in a more mindful way.
How to set your priorities
1. Write down your values
When you get clear on what you want, it eliminates overwhelm so you can prioritize what is most important for that day, week, month, etc. For example, values often include good health, time with family and friends, financial freedom, and generosity. Write down your values then pick the top three that resonate with you most.
2. Realistically plan your schedule (your life!)
It’s easy to overestimate how much we can get done in a day. Between work, family, friendships, personal responsibilities, and unexpected events, our lives already feel full. While we want to prioritize everything, not all things matter equally. This is where it’s helpful to pick three things that are non-negotiables. These items must get done in your day no matter what. So if you value good health, you will choose to prioritize things like exercise, preparing healthy food, or getting 8 hours of sleep per night. Whatever you choose as a non-negotiable, make sure you take action to get the results you want.
3. Prioritize what matters – get organized
While prioritizing what matters, write your priorities on your calendar or to-do list. The act of writing these down helps you remember what tasks, activities, and goals need to be accomplished. This lets your brain knows where it should focus. Plan your day around your musts. One strategy to adopt is the MUST, SHOULD, WANT method. It helps you prioritize your tasks by urgency.
- Your Must tasks are non-negotiable. Choose three tasks, activities, or goals that must get done in a day. If you choose too many, it can lead to overwhelm.
- A Should is something you need to do, but it’s not dire that it is done that day. For example, answering certain emails may be a should. It’s important, but delaying it a day or two may not be a big deal.
- Your Want is something you’d like to do, but might not be practical or necessary at the moment. It can be put off for the future.
4. Set limits
With only 24 hours in a day, and three important things that MUST get done, it is critical to have a process or system in place to help you stay focused. If you are a chronic multi-tasker, you need to set a timer, remove all distractions, and close push notifications. If you are a procrastinator who puts things off to the very last minute, you should schedule your daily tasks from easiest to hardest. According to Michael Hyatt of Full Focus Planner, tackling your easiest tasks first frees up emotional energy allowing you to focus on other tasks.
5. The final step (for Prioritizing What Matters) is the check-in
The values you determine for your life and the productivity method you implement to support the results you want are truly personal.
- Commit to your non-negotiables
- Figure out what works for you
- Be willing to try something new
- Check-in regularly to adjust what is not working
For more on productivity, visit Productivity Hacks for Busy People.