Do NOT Prioritize Your Schedule, Schedule Your Priorities
You will never get everything done. It’s that simple. There are always more tasks to be completed than there are hours in a day. So what do you do? You you prioritize your schedule. You write down a list of everything that needs to get done. Then set upon that list with the intention of completing it all, but the knowledge that getting it all done is highly unlikely. If you are like most people you derive a smug sense of satisfaction from crossing things off you list. There’s a cathartic exhale that accompanies the single line of ink as it crosses through the words of a completed item on you ‘to-do’ list. And… if you are anything like I used to be, if you complete some task that is not on your list, you’ll quickly add it to the paper and then ceremoniously scratch through it with a definitive stroke of your pen.
I’m not going to lie, the mere thought of striking through items on a list that I have completed makes me feel accomplished, but there’s a horrible and unseen problem with the ‘to-do’ list method:
You will NEVER be able to get everything done.
This terrible chain of events is so frustrating that you probably choose to ignore it. In fact, chances are you have become so committed to this mode of operation that you double your efforts. You make more lists hoping that eventually you will be able to cross everything off and be free from the endless “to-do’s”.
Stop. Stop it right now.
No more ‘to-do’ lists. No more carrying over uncompleted tasks to the next day. No more anxiety about trying to get everything done.
You are probably thinking “Josh, that’s ridiculous. How on earth will I ever get anything done?!”
It’s simple: Do NOT prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.
What?! You might be thinking.
Well, read that again. Stop putting everything you wish you could get done on a list. Instead take the top 3-8 things that absolutely must get done and put them in your calendar. Schedule the things that have to happen, allocate the necessary time to complete them. Then, forget everything else. Ignore everything that’s not scheduled (within reason). I’m not suggesting you leave your sick child at school. What I am suggesting is that you avoid distractions and time wasting activities.
How can I do that?! There is so much I have to get done.
Nope. There’s not. You need to choose your serious priorities and then schedule them in your calendar. It’s that simple.
Full disclosure: people will not understand why their menial tasks aren’t completed. Distraction will constantly be trying to steal your attention. Don’t let it.
Schedule your priorities and then respect your schedule. It’s a simple method that is difficult to apply, however, if you put this method into action you will be amazed by your productivity.