When you’re juggling multiple things in your life (for example, a full-time job, a side hustle, school, a family, etc.) it can seem like your to-do list is pretty much overflowing, and prioritizing tasks can feel pretty impossible. Everything feels urgent and you don’t know where to start! In this post I’m sharing the tips you NEED to teach you how to prioritize tasks when everything seems super urgent.
Make a To-Do List
I tend to get really stressed and feel super disorganized when I’ve got a bunch of ideas and mental notes floating around in my head, so step one for me is always getting everything down on a to-do list. I just like to have the visual representation of everything I need to get done, and that also ensures I don’t forget anything!
I write a daily to-do list every day that is filled with small, manageable tasks that need to get done that day. I also keep a big picture to-do list of all the projects I want to get done long-term, whether they be for my business or for me personally. And all of those tasks from the big picture to-do list will eventually make their way onto a daily to-do list to be finished.
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When you’ve got a huge project to take on, you can’t really just throw it on the to-do list as is and expect that it’s going to get done. That’s because big projects are usually made up of tons of small tasks.
When I’m figuring out what tasks need to get done to accomplish my big project, I like to work backward. What is the final result going to look like? And what do I need to do right before that? And before that? Sometimes when you’re starting a new project, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Working backward is a great way to tackle it because you can start with your final goal and use that to figure out where you need to start.
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I love to plan and prefer to go into a project having as much planned out ahead of time as possible, so what I’m about to say might seem a bit counterintuitive. However…it is possible to over plan. There comes a point when your time spent planning just really isn’t productive anymore, and you’d be better off just diving into the project.
I notice that the projects I tend to over plan on are those that I’m anxious about starting, and I’m really just using the planning process as a form of procrastination. But if you’ve got an overflowing to-do list and hardly enough time to get everything done, you really don’t have time for procrastination.
What might be more beneficial is to ask yourself why you’re procrastinating. I’ve taken on really huge projects that I was excited about, but also super nervous, and I was procrastinating because I was worried about failing. I’ve also taken on projects that I wasn’t excited about and it turns out, really didn’t matter that much for my business. If it’s the latter, consider just ditching the project altogether and freeing up some room on your to-do list!
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Prioritize Urgent Tasks
Just because everything on your list is important does not mean everything on your list is urgent. When you’re really in a time crunch, some of those tasks that are important in the long-term but not really urgent may need to be postponed until you have more time to get to them.
Tasks that are important are those that are going to have a long-term impact on your life, your job, your business, etc. Those that are urgent are time-sensitive. They have a deadline and need to be done soon. The tasks that are urgent as well as important trump those that are just important.
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Prioritize the Task That Will Have the Greatest Result
If all the tasks are important, think about which will have the biggest impact. Let’s say I’m working on my to-do list for my business and have a bunch of super important tasks to get done. Once I’ve crossed off the time-sensitive ones, I’m left with a bunch of tasks that are important, but don’t necessarily need to be done that day. If there’s a task that will probably impact my business income the most, I’m probably going to start with that one!
Basically, rather than thinking of the importance of each individual task, think of the end result of each task and figure out which of those results is most important to you.
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Consider Taking Something Off the List
While everything on your to-do list might seem important, be honest with yourself about whether or not it all really is. Maybe there’s something that’s on your list because you think it’s something you should be doing, but it really isn’t important to you. Or maybe there’s something that seemed important to you at the time you put it on your list, but it no longer is.
Removing something from my to-do list always makes me a bit anxious. I feel like once I’ve written it down, I’ve committed to it. But it’s totally okay to take things off the list, and if it wasn’t really important to you anyways, then you’ll just feel better after you remove it.
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