“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.” – Harold B. Melchart
Lately, I’m having trouble prioritizing all the things I have to do. I do pretty well for a while, and then I get overwhelmed with all the things on my list. One of the self-care cards that I’ve been drawing lately is “Priorities: Get your priorities straight. When you know what’s important, saying no gets much easier.”
My friends and I recently started an “accountability group”. The point of the group is to take care of all the little things that end up on our to-do lists over and over again… those things that we can never seem to get around to doing. Everyone in the group writes down 3-5 things that they would like to accomplish during the month. At the end of the month we have a group phone call to discuss what we accomplished or didn’t, and why. I did really well the first month, but the second month has been difficult… I’ve completed almost none of my goals and the month is almost over.
I’m finding that I don’t manage my time well and I’ve been thinking about all the possible causes:
* It’s hard for me to wake up early because I enjoy staying up late (and as much as I like to sleep, I’d rather do almost anything else). In addition, it’s difficult to leave a warm and delicious body in the bed while I go and start my day.
* Because I don’t wake up early, I end up working late into the evening. It’s easy to get interrupted in the evening because friends are making plans and I’m eager to interact with them.
* Many of my activities are online so even though I am switching projects, I’m online all the time. And thus the work is seemingly unvaried.
* I’m trying to do too much… and it might be possible to do everything I want, as long as I don’t take any breaks. That is not realistic.
* I need to have a clear and relatively specific goal in mind or I have trouble starting on a project.
* I can’t seem to focus. I feel like there is so much going on all the time… I can’t seem to catch up with everything I want to do.
There’s a lot of advice on how to “get things done“. There are a myriad of programs to help with task management. Ironically, I work for the best online project management tool on the market: Qtask. In looking around and studying the various ways of prioritizing time, here are some of my favorite pieces of advice:
* Take care of all the little things. Spend a day doing the little things filling up your to-do list.
* Clear the clutter. Sometimes having a clean workspace can help focus the mind.
* Prepare for tomorrow the night before. Write a to-do list, lay out the clothes you are going to wear, make a lunch, etc
* Break things down into bite sized pieces. I know that for myself “Make this website better” is not specific enough to motivate me to work on improving a website.
* Just start. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. You can alter the course as you go. If you don’t start, you have nothing.
* Do the hardest thing first.
* Take breaks. Go for a walk. Clear your mind when it feels “jumbled”.
* Say no to things that are not a priority. One of the things I’ve done to focus on my priorities is to write my goals on a 3×5 card and then tape that card to the inside of my journal where I write my morning pages. This ensures that I see my goals every morning, keeping them in my mind throughout the course of my day.
* Don’t forget to have fun. Life is not just about crossing things off the list. Try and enjoy yourself while you are accomplishing your tasks.
So, dear readers, in the never-ending quest to get things done, how do you solve your own problems of prioritization? What has helped you to be more productive?
“Our real duty is always found running in the direction of our worthiest desires.” – Randolph S. Bourne