Going with the flow seems like a relaxing way of life, but do it for too long and life gets completely out of control. The truth is that most people need some organization their lives. Vacation is a great time to run without a plan, but in regular life setting priorities is essential to making sure everything gets done. In all areas of life there are urgent tasks, important but less pressing ones, and things that can be done anytime. To get everything taken care of in a timely manner you have to be willing to prioritize your responsibilities. Here are some tips and tricks for setting priorities and getting your life on track.
At work, you likely feel like you have a long, never-ending list of tasks to complete. In fact, if you don’t have a list, a great first step to prioritizing work is to create one. Take a few minutes at the end of your day or the beginning of the next one to organize a work to-do list. The good news is that every minute spent planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. Think about it—it only takes ten minutes to prioritize work tasks, and it can save you as much as two hours in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day.
Once you have your tasks down on paper, rank them in order of urgency. If you have clients waiting for something, you’ll probably want to put these tasks ahead of the in-house ones. When new tasks come into play, rank them and add them to your list. Having a listing of your must-dos and being able to cross items off as you go will help keep you on track and boost feelings of accomplishment.
Those in school, particularly students who are living away from home, have to learn about setting priorities in both school and life tasks. Much like prioritizing work duties, when organizing school tasks it’s best to start by making a list of assignments. You may even want to break down the assignments into steps and allot a certain amount of time to each component. As explained by Jessica Edmondson for Daytimer, “Major academic assignments, in particular, can easily be broken down into their component parts. For example: instead of scheduling 3 hours to write a 1,000-word paper, instead plan 20 minutes to outline, 20 minutes to write each paragraph, and 20 minutes to proofread.”
You can use your weekend to take care of as many of your household tasks as possible. Grocery shop and prep meals for the week ahead. Wash all of your dirty clothes, pay the bills, and set appointments. Don’t forget to leave time for some fun and relaxation so that it’s easier to focus when you get back to the grind.
When you’re busy with work, school, and family it’s easy to let your household duties get away from you. Yes, even at home, prioritization skills are key. Few people love household chores, but staying on top of them keeps the situation from getting overwhelming. As in other areas of life, taking care of tasks in order of urgency is the way to go.
Everyone needs to eat, so setting out a plan for getting everyone in the house fed is a top priority. If you have a hectic schedule, planning really helps. Consider laying out a meal schedule a week or a month in advance and then get the groceries you need on your days off. You may even choose to prep meals ahead of time by chopping and refrigerating or freezing either uncooked or ready-to-eat meals. Doing so cuts down on the day-to-day cooking stress.
Setting priorities for household chores is also a smart idea. Decide which tasks are most important to your day-to day living and go from there. Having clean clothes is usually necessary, so laundry may get top billing. You also need clean dishes to eat off of. Removing the clutter can make a home feel less stressful overall. Cleaning bathrooms, dusting, and vacuuming can often be left until the end of the week. To avoid wasting an entire day off scrubbing the house from top to bottom, try creating a chore schedule. Designate one or two chores to each day of the week (in order of urgency) so you never have to face a staggering amount of housework. If there are multiple people in the house, give each person a day or two of chores to take care of.
Learning prioritization skills may seem stressful, but it will actually help eliminate a lot of strain. It can be very comforting to have a plan and to see things coming together.