At work, I’m ok with the fact that despite what Ι have planned, little can finally be done. Something will definitely not be enough — either hands, money, or time. For some reason, in my personal life, I forget about this and become a kind of superhuman who can stay awake for days and do several things at the same time.
But the fact is that to keep my spirit high over the long haul, it’s important to prioritize.
Often I find myself in a situation of time pressure…
“Today is the last day of early booking, and I have not yet agreed on a vacation. And I also need to drop by the designer for the kitchen to be approved”.
I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym, and my bedside book has been untouched for several months. At times like these, it seems like the rush will never end.
After a meeting with my therapist a couple of years ago I realized that nothing would collapse by itself, I had to allocate time at least for planning. I had to work hard with myself. After several months of countless efforts I concluded that with proper planning and discipline, I could minimize my stress levels and get more done in less time.
I usually use Trello for planning, which was easy to use and free. I was already comfortable writing down tasks on a piece of paper, but I wanted to try something else out. So I did it. And I realized that making a plan is the process of creating a blueprint for getting from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. By doing so, your goal is taken out of the realm of fantasy and brought into the realm of reality.
I think that so far you have established the importance of having a plan. But to create the foundation for a successful action plan, there are 9 important steps you have to take. Let’s dive in…
#1 — Make a list of projects
The first thing to do is to “unload” all our “Wishlist” from our heads and clarify them a little.
Step 1: Write down all your goals
It is very important to write down everything that comes to mind. No need to divide projects into personal and work, they all require your time to implement.
EXAMPLE OF SUCH A LIST:
- Lose weight.
- Learn English.
- Read books.
- Start your own business.
- Teach your child to play chess.
- Implement the working project X.
Step 2: Answer the question: “Why?”
Think about why you want to achieve this goal.
The exercise will allow you to better understand the value of the project and plan its implementation. This will increase your chances of success.
- LOSE WEIGHT — I want to go in for sports so that I have more energy, and I want to live.
- READ BOOKS — everyone reads, I also want to start reading.
- START YOUR OWN BUSINESS — I always dreamed of working for myself.
- TEACH A CHILD TO PLAY CHESS — I want to spend more time with my child.
- IMPLEMENT WORKING PROJECT X — If we do not finish the project by the new year, the director promised not to give us that bonus.
Step 3: Answer the question: “How will I understand what has happened?”
After this step, you may want to change the original goal, add something to the list, or remove a couple of items from it. For example, I am likely to abandon the goal of “reading books” because the answer to the question “why?” shows that this goal is not my “wishlist”, but rather a desire to match a certain image. The project may not be completed. In the case of losing weight, it would be good to reformulate the goal, since it is not the final weight that is more important, but a new healthy habit.
#2 — Prioritize
Now that we have a list of projects and an understanding of their importance, we need to figure out how much we can do. And then decide what we will do first.
Step 1: Do a Pairwise Comparison of Projects
In programming, there is a simple way to sort — the bubble method. It is well suited for small lists and helps to easily order them by comparing elements pairwise:
- Compare the first element of the list with the second. In my case, I have to decide what is more important for me: to lose weight or learn Spanish. If learning Spanish is more important, then I change the list items in places.
- Compare the second element and the third. In second place was the desire to lose weight, and in third — was to read books. Let’s assume that everything is correct here and a permutation is not required. Therefore, in what follows I will compare the desire to read a book (third element) and to start a business (fourth).
- Go through the entire list. If at least one element is swapped, start comparing the list again until the elements stop swapping.
In our example, I have to do a maximum of five repetitions. If I need more, it means that my priorities are changing on the go and it’s worth returning to the answer to the question “Why?”. Perhaps there is something to think about.
Step 2: Determine the timing
Some projects are not tied to a specific date, but some need to be done by the deadline. For example, if you have just returned from a vacation, then there is no point in planning the next one yet. But with your next vacation coming up, prioritizing it might be the most important thing on your list. Go through the list and identify items that need to be done by a certain date. In our example, this is “Implement Work Project X”.
Step 3: Adjust the priorities on the list to accommodate projects with dates
Managing your time efficiently and completing more work requires trial and error before you settle into a comfortable rhythm. Achieving your tasks effectively gives you peace of mind, and personal satisfaction, and improves your credibility and reliability at work.
Originally posted on Medium