Prioritizing: Spend Your Time Only for the Most Important Things!

Posted under Time Management on Tuesday 28 October 2008 at 4:11 am

I want it all, and I want it now!” Freddie Mercury was singing in one of the best songs of Queen in the late 80s. Yes, people want to have a lot of things: an interesting and non-stressful job, a loving family, plenty of money, a well-appointed house, caring and well-educated children, loyal friends, good health and God knows what else. However, no matter how hard we try, the truth is: we have no time for everything! Sooner or later we have to stop and decide what we want the most: a distinguished career, or a long purse and deep pocket, or a homely home, or our personal freedom. Sooner or later we have to make a choice, and effective time management can also help us to set our priorities.

PrioritizingUndoubtedly, the concept of prioritizing is one of the key ideas of the whole time management theory – it is one of its foundation stones! Prioritizing means making choices, what to do right now and what not to do. Well-developed prioritizing skills and abilities to evaluate, what task is the most important in a certain period of time, are crucial for every successful person and for those, who want to achieve long-term goals. Prioritizing also can help us distinguish between urgent, the most important and the most rewarding tasks, and learn to focus on them.

In time management books and theories, there are many ways and techniques of complex prioritizing, which include various matrixes or using 5-6 criteria for evaluation of the tasks. Well, in order to save our time and not to get confused in this everything, I offer using a very simple model, which always works for me and will, certainly, work for you, my dear readers. This model is very simple and can be used at any time and for any type of tasks or activities you need to do. This is basically how it works.

1.    Make a list of everything that must be done or you want to be done for a certain period of time (a working day, a week, a year, etc.). Remember, that making a written list of the tasks or activities is very effective for the beginners, that is why write down every thing that comes to your mind!
2.    Evaluate every single task and activity in your to-do list. Ask yourself a question: “Will something terrible happen if I don’t accomplish this item as soon as possible?” “Is this really something that MUST be done no matter what?” If the answer is “Yes“, then this item is an A Priority item, the highest priority task or activity.
3.    If the task is important, rewarding and quite urgent, but still can be postponed for some time, it belongs to the second category, or B Priority.
4.    All the rest of the tasks and activities in your list have to be considered C Priorities, or not important items. Ask yourself, “Will something happen if I don’t accomplish this item at all?” If the answer is “No”, you can leave these tasks for better times.

That’s all. Everything you need to do is to learn setting the priorities on a regular basis and spending your time only for doing those tasks, which fall under your A and B categories. This model can assist you greatly in distinguishing those tasks, which will make you closer to your goals and stimulate your personal progress day by day, from the other, less useful and important duties or activities.

Unfortunately, many of us feel lazy to spend time for prioritizing. We do a great deal of things and tasks that appear in our working schedules or are a part of our daily routine and simply need to be accomplished, without asking questions about the priorities. However, prioritizing is a very important approach which effectively works for improving productivity, achieving better results and higher time efficiency, being focused only on important tasks and more oriented on long-term goals, and so on.