In life, not everything can be a priority. Many important things will vie for your attention throughout your life, but there aren’t enough hours in anyone’s life to devote to everything that could potentially be a priority.
Determining your basic priorities is an important step toward making better use of your time. Your basic priorities provide a framework for making time decisions, assisting you in determining where you should invest your time and where you can let go.
Priorities are determined by determining what is most important. In this case, “important” refers to how important it is to you. What activities and roles give meaning to your life? These are the areas of your life where you want to excel the most.
You cannot make everything in your life a priority. Many important things will vie for your attention throughout your life, but there aren’t enough hours in anyone’s life to devote to everything that could potentially be a priority. Determining your basic priorities is an important step toward making better use of your time. Your basic priorities provide a framework for making time decisions, assisting you in determining where you should invest your time and where you can let go.
On a daily basis, you must also learn to prioritise tasks. Task prioritisation consists of two steps:
- Recognizing what needs to be done
- Deciding on the order in which the tasks should be completed
How do you decide what tasks must be completed? It mostly comes back to your fundamental priorities. To be efficient with your time, you must eliminate work that does not align with your basic priorities. Learn to say “no” to jobs that appear interesting and may even provide a sense of accomplishment but do not align with your core values.
You must also be able to distinguish between tasks that require busywork and those that do not. Many of the tasks that take up your time may not be necessary or should be done less frequently. Working on the most important tasks first, regardless of how tempted you are to get less important tasks out of the way, is what task prioritising entails.
Certain abilities aid in the efficient use of time. The majority of these abilities are mental in nature. While developing all of the skills is not required, each contributes to your ability to direct your time usage.
Time sense is the ability to estimate how long it will take to complete a task. A good sense of time will allow you to plan your activities more realistically. It alleviates the frustration of never having enough time to complete tasks.
To improve your time sense, start by mentally noting how long it takes to complete routine tasks such as getting ready in the morning, doing a load of laundry, or driving your child across town to baseball practise.
Goal setting is the ability to decide where you want to be at the end of a set period of time. Goal setting provides direction for your morning, day, week, and lifetime. Goal setting is exemplified by the exercise of determining your lifetime priorities. Learn to write down your objectives.
Most people’s goals are just wishes until they are written down. Maintain specific goals, such as “weed the flower beds in front of the house” rather than “work on the yard.” Maintain a realistic set of goals or you will be constantly frustrated by a sense of failure.
Standard shifting is the process of adjusting your standards as your circumstances change. Your standards are the criteria you use to determine whether something is good enough, clean enough, pretty enough, or done well enough.
Perfectionists have extremely high, rigid standards, and they struggle to adjust to changing demands or circumstances in their lives. Develop the ability to adjust your standards so that you can be satisfied with less-than-perfect results when time constraints are high, rather than feeling as if you are falling short.
Time planning entails outlining ahead of time the tasks that must be completed within a specific time frame. Sometimes time management is as simple as making a “To Do” list to keep your mind from getting bogged down in too much detail.
During particularly stressful times, the “To Do” list may expand to include a more detailed calendar of when tasks will be completed. While a detailed time schedule can be too confining to use all of the time, it is a good way to relieve stress during extremely demanding times.
Recognizing procrastination is a skill in and of itself because procrastinators are excellent at concealing their procrastination from themselves. Procrastination is the unnecessary postponement of decisions or actions.
You could cover up your procrastination response with an excuse such as waiting for inspiration, needing a large block of time to concentrate with your full attention, or needing more information before beginning a project.
Differentiating between procrastination excuses and legitimate reasons for delaying a decision or action requires skill. There is little chance of overcoming this immobilising habit if you are unable to recognise when you are procrastinating.