Set Your Priorities: This post contains affiliate links
It’s one of those days, your to-do list is a million miles long and none of the things on your list are something that you are excited about doing. So how are you going to get your day started? Set your priorities and get the day started on the right foot, with the right thing.
Well, how do you decide what is the right thing? It’s really pretty simple when you use the Priority Matrix which you can read more about in the book by Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When you are planning and trying to prioritize your tasks against your goals you need to determine 2 main criteria. How important is it, and how urgent it is. Now, here is the tricky part – you have to be honest and thoughtful when you make this determination. You want to make sure that you are making decision for YOU. What is important to one person may not be important to the next person – and you want to set your priorities based on the importance to you.
- Quadrant I – these are tasks that have immediate and important deadlines. Example: make a dentist appointment for the tooth that cracked last night (important) and is causing you a lot of pain (urgent)
- Quadrant II – these are long-term goals and things that take time for development. Example: work up a budget for the home-improvement project that will add equity for your home (important) and make life more convenient for your household’s daily routine (not urgent). NOTE: we all need to spend more time taking care of things in this quadrant than we do. This is how we can make progress on the things that matter most to us.
- Quadrant III – here are tasks that are begging for immediate attention but are not important to us right now. Example: Watching a TV commercial that has a great to gadget that catches our attention, the company tells us we need to respond in the next 10 minutes to get a great price (urgent) but it’s not something that we need and shouldn’t make a knee-jerk reaction to (not important)
- Quadrant IV – these are the time wasters of the grid. Example: Binge watching a tv series that isn’t accomplishing anything that is productive. It’s ok to spend some time in this category for taking a needed break but keep these tasks to a minimum.
Now that you have determined what quadrant each task belongs in, it will be easy for you to prioritize your to-do list for today (or for the week if you are doing your weekly planning). I like to use the Franklin Planning method of putting an A, B or C next to the items that have the greatest importance. So in the examples above, making the dentist appointment would be priority A, home improvement project is B. You can also use numbers to help you put groups of priorities in order. For example, Priority A’s could be making important calls – Dentist call could be A1, call to make an RSVP to your favorite nephew’s wedding is A2 (and yes, A2 can be done after you get your tooth fixed…again it’s all about priorities!), and call to set up a babysitter for Friday night so you can have a date night would be A3.
Try to make time in your weekly schedule to get some quadrant II items scheduled in. This is going to help you keep moving forward on your big goals. If you don’t give enough time to plan ahead, you’ll only be making progress on the emergencies of everyday life and that’s going against our plan of creating a life that is good and comfortable. So try to pick out about 3 quadrant II goals each week to make that progress towards your dreams!