Today we're going to talk about how to prioritize and organize your busy day, so you don't go crazy. Each morning when I first sit down to go to work, I often have a dozen things rattling around in my brain. My mind frequently seems to be racing in 10 different directions. There are always so many projects to do and so little time. If you're not careful, it's easy to fall into feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and even self-pity. To avoid such a fate, I have a ritual I do each day at the start of work. I simply write down on a single page all the projects and things I'd like to do that day. I just write it all down, so I don't have to think about it anymore.
When I do this, I often notice something amazing. As I write down all my items for the day, my mind clutter begins to clear. In my head, it often seems like my "to do" list is almost infinite, but on paper, I can see there are really perhaps just seven different tasks I need to complete. It feels good to see there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Now you may have a different system, and as long as it works for you, that's great. But too many people fail to get stuff down on paper or into their computer. Juggling your "to do" list in your head simply does not lead to productivity or peace of mind. Besides, when we continually think of what we have to do in our head, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, distracted, or disempowered
Besides writing a list of all the things you hope to do in a given day, it's also important to prioritize them. Some people simply number their list, such as #1, #2, etc., or perhaps A items, B items, and then C items. Any prioritization system can work as long as it makes sense to you. Yet, here's a trick I learned about prioritizing my day that has helped me be much more productive. After I drink coffee in the morning, I am quite alert and motivated. Therefore, I tackle the hardest items on my list during the first part of my morning. It's very useful to know when your most productive time is and put your most difficult items during that time. Once my most difficult items are done, it's easy to feel motivated to go down my list and handle other items in a logical order. So, whenever you are most productive, be sure to put your most important or most difficult items during that time of the day.
So right now, sit up straight in your chair, take a deep breath, and then let it out with a long, slow sigh.
Get out a piece of paper or open up a new document on your computer. Write down every task you would ideally like to accomplish today, or in the next couple of days. Let this be a complete brain dump. Once you've written this list down, ask yourself, "What on this list is the hardest for me to do, and what on this list is most important for me to focus on for today?" Then, prioritize your list based on your answers to those questions. If you can, schedule what's hardest to do during your most productive time, and prioritize your other items based on what most needs to get accomplished that day.
I find that my daily mantra is the question, "What is the most important thing for me to focus on today, or right now?" If you ask that question throughout your day, things will inevitably pop out at you.
By keeping your list of your day's tasks close at hand, and asking what's most important to do right now, it will help organize your brain and keep you from overwhelm. So take a couple of minutes now to make a list of all your projects and tasks for the day. Then simply ask, "What's most important to do right now?". This daily habit will both help make you work smarter and create more peace of mind.
In our next lesson, I'll cover a simple way to help you focus on your most important goals consistently and easily.