7 tips how to set your priorities

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Last Updated on January 16, 2020 by Lucie Klabanová

(For czech version of the post click here.)

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t have time!”

How often I hear this sentence.

And yet it’s so inaccurate, I’d almost say it’s a lie.

Time is given and we all just “use” it. It is up to us how we handle it.

It sounds simple and clear. But how to deal with it in everyday life?

It may seem easy: I’ll just prioritize and so be more efficient. In theory, yes. But it is the process of identifying your own priorities that is basically the biggest and most difficult task. That’s how it usually is: it sounds easy and it’s the most difficult issue.

You can’t just say: My priority is family. And so let everything else be. We don’t live in a vacuum. Every minute, the surroundings affect us and thus change the way we perceive the situation. And of course we must adapt our own priorities to that.

I will try to give you some insight into how to work with priorities so you can pursue more of what you really want and feel more satisfied.

You need to set your priorities yourself

First of all, keep in mind that you need to identify (or at least realize) your goals, values ​​and priorities yourself. Nobody else can do it for you, maybe just guide you. Therefore, dedicate the time to it. As much as you need.

Start by identifying life goals. This topic alone would be long enough for a book. And when we talk about it, Petr Ludwig’s book The End of Procrastination helped me a lot in that. Petr gives a fairly accurate guide on how to work out your own personal vision. For me, this activity was a real game changer because it helped me to clarify what I subconsciously knew but never named it, and suddenly everything got real outlines.

So firstly, try to clarify what matters to you, what are your values and where you are heading, which goals you have. Make sure your goals are in line with your values. For example, if your value is family and you aim to build a career, you will surely experience dissatisfaction at some point.

Values ​​may change in time depending on your life stage. Of course, you change your goals even more often in line with their achievement, not just the current situation.
If you are clear about your goals and values, you can consciously start setting your priorities – be it big projects or small tasks, which nevertheless you need to do, too.

How to prioritize?

  • Allocate time

    You need to reserve time for prioritization – daily. This time for thinking, when you sit down for a few minutes and clarify everything you need, cannot be replaced. Without that it will simply not work. On the other hand be sure that a few minutes to prioritize will save you a lot of trouble (and time).

  • Create your own prioritization system

    Unfortunately, there is no formula that automatically evaluates what is greater and lower priority for you (if you invent it, please let me know, I will be the first one to use it ;-)). You must always think it over and take into account all the circumstances and the specific situation.

  • Give yourself only a limited number of priorities

    The day is not inflatable, so set a maximum of three main priorities for each day. If you have fifteen of them, you won’t be able to fulfil them anyway, and you’ll just be disappointed. If you manage your 3 priorities sooner than you expect, you can always start something more. This will make you feel great as you are more effective than expected.

  • Think especially of yourself

    Those are your priorities, not anyone else’s. Be selfish. Learn to be assertive and say no.

  • Keep your attention

    If what you are doing is your priority, focus on it. Don’t bounce to anything else. You will finish sooner and with better quality.

  • Plan your balance

    When setting priorities, keep in mind that you have only one health and a limited time to perform for 100%. If you think of that, you will also choose the care of yourself, relax or sport as a priority. This must be one of your priorities.

  • Evaluate

    Be sure to evaluate every day how you managed your planned priorities and what causes and consequences it had. Lessons are needed for future prioritizing.

I have read somewhere that “Wisdom is the art of determining what to ignore.” This is quit the point in setting priorities.

And one last point. Next time, instead of saying: “I don’t have time”, try: “It’s not my priority now.” It will be clearer to you and the others.

I am a mentor, leader and pioneer of business process improvement. I help companies and individuals to find effective ways to achieve their goals. More about me you can find here>>

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