Prioritizing is not a skill many people possess naturally. Yeah, I caught you, you thought this would be effortless! But do not fear! Prioritizing will be less effort than how much time you spend thinking about the thing you need to do only to not do it.
Prioritizing comes in because many people struggle with what to do. Do you feel like you are constantly putting out mini fires? And are there are things you want to do but just do not have the time for?
Here you will learn to start prioritizing the important things in your life. And take control of your life. I want this process to be as effortless for you as possible.
Some of these tips might take some time at first but eventually, they will become a habit. Then you will begin doing these things naturally and without thought.
What is Prioritizing?
Prioritizing is the act of ordering tasks or goals in order of importance. For this post, let’s talk about prioritizing goals.
You cannot grow without having goals that challenge you. However, having too many goals at the same time can be a disaster waiting to happen. Too many goals can wreak havoc on your productivity.
Having too many goals will reduce the amount of time you can consistently work hard at a goal. Narrowing down your goals and working consistently only on those goals will help you to achieve them faster. And then you can work on new goals as your time frees up.
Thus this is why you should be prioritizing your goals. You will need to decide what goals are most important to you.
How do you decide what is important?
It’s as simple as considering three things.
- What do you want?
- Potential for growth
- Potential for greater quality of life
First, think about what you want. To do this you will have to develop the skill of introspection. I am still developing this skill. However, after practice, I noticed an improvement from when I first started. Here you will define your end goal. This will answer the question: where do your efforts lead?
Second, consider the growth potential. Growth is important to feel fulfilled in one’s life. Growing can occur in many areas of life. People put considerable pressure on themselves to have career growth. However growth should happen in any area of life you find important, relationships, career, health, mental well-being, etc.
Lastly consider the potential for greater quality of life. Your potential for greater quality of life will keep you on the path to crushing your goals. One of my biggest goals is to cultivate stronger relationships with people. This will impact my quality of life by reducing the loneliness I feel. Which will reduce how much I suffer. And I will also increase how much social support I feel. Having stronger relationships is proven to help reduce depression symptoms. Therefore the goal of cultivating stronger relationships would greatly improve my quality of life.
Being Intentional About Prioritizing
Working towards goals without being intentional about the goals will ruin productivity. Productivity can only occur when there is intentionality. Having an intentional life is when you focus your time and energy on things that matter. And then removing your time and energy from the things that do not matter. Intentionality is deciding what to do and what not to do. Productivity is deciding what to do and not to do. Being intentional will free up your brain space for the important things that matter.
Have you ever started a goal and thought man this is hard and then quit. This is most likely because you were not being intentional about choosing your goals.
Be Intentional Every Day
If you want to be intentional every day you need to get clear upfront about what you want to achieve and then take action on achieving it.Mark Pettit The Importance of Being Intentional, Thrive Global
You should make intentionality a daily practice. Doing so will allow you to prioritize the things that matter most. When completing goals being consistent is key.
Being intentional every day will help you maintain consistency. You will be actively working towards your most important goals.
1. Be clear about the results that you want
Being clear about the results that you want will allow you to picture your end goal. And you will also recognize the positive impact on your life. Instead of saying make more money, your intentional goal would be “I want to make enough to travel, have the freedom to do what I want, and make sure the people I love are well taken care of”. Now, that’s a goal with an image!
2. Use your time wisely
This will be difficult at first. Especially if you are prone to procrastinate on difficult tasks. Part of growth is taking on new tasks that challenge you.
Procrastination is normal, however, if you are spending hours at a time surfing on Facebook instead of your goals you are wasting precious time. If you have a pile of tasks piling on and instead of taking a crack at your tasks you start binging the next episode you may be using procrastination as a way to avoid your goals.
Choosing which goals to focus your attention on is also important. I am the kind of person who tries to pick too many goals to focus on. However, this isn’t effective and my focus tends to be drawn very thin. To accomplish goals, you will have to use your time wisely by reducing the number of goals you try to accomplish at one time.
Another important task is to monitor how much time you are spending on each of your goals. I can get caught up spending too much time on my goals that I find more fun and less time on my goals that I find less than satisfactory.
3. Plan out your day
To be intentional about your time and your goals you must plan out your day. Refer back to your top-priority goals. For me, these goals are: submit the pilot paper, make enough money to move around the country, and enjoy my time which is about 5,000 a month, cultivate strong friendships, and read 25 books this year.
To plan my day around these goals my tasks are:
- Read our prior papers
- Compile resources necessary to write literature review
- Plan a day to talk about career growth with Ana
- Decide what meal to make with Jeremy
- Write blog article
These tasks are related to my priority goals
- Cultivate strong healthy relationships to have more social support, decreased feelings of loneliness, improve depression symptoms, and to feel more fulfilled.
- Submit the pilot paper to disseminate all the information we learned about the SOVA project.
- Grow blog to 1000 email subscribers to help 1000 people every month reach their goals
- Obtain a position as a research coordinator to help Ana build a team capable of running her research projects effectively
- Make $5,000/ month so that you can travel, spend money, and have experiences to make your life more fulfilling.
- Maintain health to feel good about my body, get stronger, and continue to reduce symptoms of depression.
The daily tasks above fulfill my goals. Showing that I am consistently prioritizing the goals I have selected as my priorities.
4. Decide what to focus on and focus on it
After you have figured out what is important decide what to focus on. You will then be prioritizing your top goals. Hopefully, these goals will have the most impact on your life.
You will have to get really good at saying no. And you will also have to decide what is a distraction. For me getting really good at rock climbing was a distraction. It was also very time-consuming. Keeping my house clean and pristine was also a distraction from the goals that would have the best impact on my life.
Having no narrowed focus on my goals made me feel helpless. I also often felt like I never got enough done and could never move forward on any of my goals. Focusing on your priority goals are key to being intentional.
5. Know why you want to achieve goals
Take into consideration the potential for improved quality of life and why you want to do your goals. Does your visualized result lead to improved quality of life for you? How would your life be different once this goal was completed?
For some goals, there is no end. You will have to specify what you want and what it will look like when you get there. For instance, improving relationships has no end date. However, you can think about what you imagine having good relationships will get you. For me, I want friends I can go on vacation with, feel close to, trust, and feel mutual effort into the friendship. Once I get to that point I can focus on maintaining those friends. I will be able to stop actively looking for friends and putting myself out there.
6. Take focused action
Being intentional is a constant process. However, with practice, being intentional will come naturally. Your focused action is to work on your priority goals every day. Remember it not the number of goals you have. Focusing on too many goals at once will reduce the quality of time you have to work on those goals. Make sure to take at least one small step towards your goals each day.
Being mindful about prioritizing
From your mental health to your relationships being mindful can improve your overall wellbeing. However, being mindful can also help your productivity.
Being mindful can help you prioritize and reduce the amount you procrastinate. First, begin by paying attention to what you are doing. This will help you recognize when you begin to procrastinate. When you notice you are procrastinating ask yourself what you are currently feeling? Are you feeling anxious, bored, unfocused, or unmotivated? After you decide how you are feeling try to single out the trigger for the emotion.
One way you can do this is by starting a thought log. Write down all the thoughts that come to mind. Next, examine what you wrote down as if it is happening to someone else. Doing so will help remove you from the triggering situation. And thus you will be more present.
Your next step will be to challenge some of your thoughts. For instance, if your thought is “I will never be done with this” then your challenging thought would be “I just need to start with the first step”. The purpose of this exercise is to reduce stress around certain tasks and motivate you to do work.
Conclusion: Prioritizing Takeaways
To complete more goals, you will have to prioritize your goals. Prioritizing your goals can only happen if you are consistent, persistent, and intentional about the goals you set out to complete.
Pick no more than five goals. The fewer goals competing for your attention, the faster you will be able to complete your goals. Focus on these five goals until they are complete. Then move on to the next five goals.
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