The alarm goes off first thing in the morning. Your eyes are open-wide with panic. You have what seems like a million things to do today. How can you possibly accomplish everything? Before you overwhelm yourself, take a deep breath and calm down. You’ll always want to keep time management in mind. You will want to learn how to set enforceable priorities with people.
Make a list and share it.
Some people jot down a list of everything they need to accomplish for that day in the morning. I prefer to write this list down the night before. Regardless of your preference, the idea is making this list will determine your top priorities for the day. Once you’ve composed this list, make sure you share it with others. For starters, sharing your calendar ensures that everyone is on the same page.
If you own a business, you can see which projects your team members are working on each day. Knowing what the team is working on allows you to make sure that they’re aligned for your organization’s long-term goals. Additionally, when you share your Calendar with others, you’ll receive support and advice from others to help you achieve your plans.
Sharing your lists publicly motivates you to get them done — even if no one else reads your list. You may also find that when you share your list with others, they’ll hold you accountable.
Focus on importance, not urgency.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
There’s no beating around the bush here. An essential thing in life is knowing what’s important to you and prioritizing these things appropriately and in a suitable way. However, we often spend more time focusing on urgent things. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new job and apartment. Both are important, but finding a job seems like that should take precedence.
After all, without a job, how can you afford an apartment? Once you land a gig, you can narrow down your search for a new place to call home. Let other’s know what’s important to you. You may have a friend who can land you a sweet pad across town. But, you should make it clear that you’re looking for a job first. Who knows? Maybe they have someone in their network who is hiring.
Maybe you have trouble differentiating between two different options. To help you out, consider the following as you write your to-do-list:
- Think about the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important.
- Review your obligations.
- Work on what’s the most important first.
Remember, urgent tasks are those that need to be handled immediately and quickly, like replying to an email. Essential duties contribute to your long-term goals and missions, like starting your company’s blog. Don’t let urgent tasks consume all of your time. If you never have a free moment to think, you’ll never get to your vital tasks.
Put your thoughts into action.
Putting your thoughts into action is the only way you’ll be able to achieve your goals in life. Remember, setting today’s priorities is how you’ll achieve tomorrow’s goals.
Let’s say you are searching for a new job. You would begin with what you’re looking for in an ideal gig, such as salary, location, and whether or not you’ll be putting your strengths to use.
Your dream job isn’t just going to fall in your lap. That’s why you need a plan. Revise your resume, set up alerts, and start networking with others.
Schedule your day into blocks.
“Block scheduling is when you organize your day based on a series of time slots,” writes Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar article. “Instead of listing out everything you need to do for the day and hoping you get it all done, you assign specific tasks to available time slots to ensure a higher success rate.”
Usually, this means scheduling your most demanding tasks when you’re most energized, focused, and productive. For most of us, that’s in the morning. You then would block out time for more straightforward tasks later in the day when you’re running out of steam.
Once you have your schedule created in your calendar, don’t forget to share your calendar with others. Sharing your calendar allows others to see the time slots when you’re available. You will not be available every second of every day, because you’re working on your most important priorities.
Be honest and flexible.
When working on your goals, be realistic about what you can realistically handle. That means setting attainable goals. For example, if you want to get in shape, you wouldn’t start with running two-miles a day. You need to work your way up to that milestone.
Additionally, no matter how much you’ve planned things out, life is full of twists and turns. You’ll want to schedule downtime, so you have the option to be flexible and adaptable. Let’s say that there’s a blizzard and you can’t run outside for a week. You’ll have to take advantage of indoor equipment like a treadmill or stationary bike.
Live in the now.
When you’re not in the present, you become distracted. It also prevents you from enjoying what’s happening now.
If you’re working on an important deadline for work, then that’s where you should currently be. Responding to your best friend’s text comes after you’ve accomplished what needs to be done right now. Don’t be afraid to let them know that either.
Once your friend has your attention, then that’s where your focus should be. Even though you’re busy, it’s essential that you still make time for your friends and family. You have to do one thing at a time.
Reflect on your needs, desires, and dreams.
Despite having set priorities, you still need to make it a point to do a self-check regularly. Self-checks ensures that you stay focused on your most important preferences and shows you that you’re taking steps to conquer them your goals.
Furthermore, it allows you to make sure that your priorities are still serving you. As you go through life, your satisfaction with your home life, work, or health may change. When that happens, your priorities will have to adopt. You’ll only notice these changes through reflection.
Don’t automatically say “yes” to every request that comes your way. If you do, you’ll never be able to work on your priorities.
Not saying “yes” doesn’t mean saying “no” to everything. It’s a thought that means setting boundaries. When a colleague asks for help, let them know that you can help them out after you’ve completed your most important tasks. They may not like that response, but they should understand and respect that.
Follow the “Golden Rule.”
Finally, if you want others to respect your priorities, then you need to respect theirs.
For instance, I have a friend who lives and breathes CrossFit. That’s not my type of workout regiment, but I can’t knock them for their lifestyle. I also have to understand that they can’t blow-off a class or break their diet just because I already worked out or don’t follow the Paleo diet.
In return, they respect my workout routine, diet, and lifestyle.
If you want people to respect your priorities, then you need to respect theirs.
John Hall is the co-founder of Calendar a scheduling and time management app. He’s also a keynote speaker that you can book at http://www.johnhallspeaking.com.