“There is no one busy in this world. It’s always about priorities. You will always find time for the things you feel important” – Nishan Panwar.
What are Priorities?
The results attached to the art of prioritizing effectively elude many. Some may even begin to think the outcomes attached to the setting of priorities are probably overrated.
Prioritizing can be defined to be the skill of fine-tuning the plan of our tasks in alignment with our goals by comparing what we have to do, setting them out in order of importance and following through with the plan. What is the use of making a plan if you do not follow it anyway? Why is this even considered important? This may be true for quite a number of people – we probably set out to do a number of things during the day but by close of the day, are not too sure whether we made any progress at all even if we checked off the items on our list.
Learning to prioritize is critical because it is a determinant of success. This can be supported by several factors including, but not limited to the following:
- Time is essential and limited and so we must make effective use of it. Everyone is allotted the same amount of time in a day. What we achieve in these hours depends on what and how we prioritize.
- It is essential to focus on the more productive tasks if we are to make measurable progress any day (in relation to your purpose or assignment).
- Prioritizing effectively helps to reduce stress (in this case, the pressure accompanying our thinking we have to do everything at once)
How to Prioritize
Learning to prioritize requires that our goal(s) or objective(s) are very clear to us. We can only communicate what we see clearly ourselves. This aids our choice of one task or activity over the other in order of importance. Frank Sonnenberg rightly said, “if everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority”.
After the objective or goal is clearly laid, we can proceed to list out our activities in any order as they come to you. When we have them all written out, each task can be examined and re-examined against another to determine its level of importance, urgency and value concerning what you hope to achieve for the period. It is helpful to juxtapose the level of importance assigned to a task against the value we expect it to deliver towards achieving our goals.
Jim Rohn once said a rule he used often was to ask himself which tasks he would attend to immediately if he had to leave town on a month’s assignment. Prioritizing effectively helps to achieve much more in value as we work towards our goal(s) but, it does not in any way imply that every second of our day be crammed with some tasking activity. It helps to build in some flexible into our schedules and to remember that our priorities are not to be cast in stone. We should not be afraid to change or move stuff around as we are confronted by different circumstances and settings. Flexibility allows for ‘play’, an important item too though it may seem to be a waste of time. ‘Play’ could mean different things to different people, for example, taking a walk around your work area, listening to a short motivational video, thinking through some ideas and many more things. These ‘play’ slots help to re-energize and keep our focus on for the rest of the period.
One more thing to consider as we plan our day, week or month is to consider the timing of the activities on our list. Sometimes like Dan Millman says, you need to think of “your priorities, not in terms of what activities to do but when you do them. Timing is everything.”
What to Prioritize
Knowing what to prioritize depends on the individual and their goal(s) but generally, many people would have these general ones to help decide the level of importance attached to each activity for the period. Certainly, one needs to prioritize oneself first and foremost because you need yourself well to follow through on your plan(s). Your life is important and should be treated as such. This includes your physical, emotional, psychological health and well-being generally.
Family usually ranks high on that list as well. Career, relationships, commitments to certain causes all make that list. What does your life revolve around? Take a good look at yourself and make a list for yourself. “Life is short. Focus on what really matters most. You should change your priorities over time” – Roy T. Bennett.
An anonymous quote reads: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage- pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’ ”.
The quote suggests that setting priorities is a matter of choice and courage. Setting them alone will not make you a high-achiever. Following through on your plan will. You must be courageous enough to shut out the good in order to make the best. What will your response be? Are you willing to make the choice? Are you able to cut out the things which matter least so you can make time for the things which matter most? “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” – Johan Wolfgang von Goethe.
Remember, if everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority – Frank Sonnenberg.