For parents, staying on top of everything can feel like a never-ending task that you’ll never get caught up on. Between work, home, kid, and social duties, it is virtually impossible to ever get everything perfectly squared away and organized.
While it might not be possible to get everything accomplished, it is possible to do the most important things. And, by prioritising the most important things, you’ll get an immense amount of relief in what you do accomplish.
Here is our 3 step process for prioritising in your life.
First things first, sit down with a big piece of paper or a blank computer screen and dump all of the thoughts you have out. The goal is to give yourself time and space to get everything possible onto paper (or the screen).
Don’t worry about organizing your thoughts yet, and don’t worry about if they make a whole lot of sense.
List every obligation you can think from, from your work hours, to kids activities, to meal prep and shopping, to social commitments. Try to include all of the projects you have, and you can even add hopes and aspirations for things you’d like to get to.
Make space to also list out things you’d like to get to, like reading a book for 20 minutes at the end of the night.
It is vital you list all of these “wants”. Part of the goal of this list is to help give you space in your life to be able to get to some of them. On our list at my house, some of the things that I included were:
- Work out 3 days per week
- Install a handheld shower unit
- Hang a large family photo in the living room
Once you have everything on paper, you can start to work with it.
Assign Priority and Importance
Now that everything is out, its time to organize and begin to determine what is truly important. It’s easiest if you put together a spreadsheet, with a new line for every single thing you listed. This way, you’ll be able to sort and prioritize easily down the road.
Make two columns on your spreadsheet, labeling one “Priority” and the second “Importance”. Go down your list and assign a numerical value to each, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.
Priority and Importance have different valuations, and it’s important to give each some distinction. For example, Priority is something that has to be done right away. A good example of this is work.
Importance, on the other hand, might not have a strict deadline attached to it, but its weight and impact is very high. Something of high importance can be a house project, or even the aforementioned reading.
Obviously, not everything can have the highest priority or importance, so use your best judgment.
Rank and Sort
Now its time to rank and sort your list! You’ll want to split your list up into 4 quadrants. Your 4 quadrants will be:
- High Priority, High Importance
- High Priority, Low Importance
- Low Priority, High Importance
- Low Priority, Low Importance
Try to get a somewhat equal number in each quadrant. It’s difficult, but will help equal things out.
High Priority, High Importance
There isn’t much you can do with these tasks. They are both highly important and of the utmost priority.
Low Priority, Low Importance
For most, these tasks are a bit eye-opening… why are you doing them? We all end up with some of these in our lives, and these are the first you need to eliminate.
They aren’t always as obvious as they seem. You have to work to identify them, but they are there.
Sometimes these tasks can be completely removed.
An example of a task that showed up on our list that needed to be removed was paying bills by hand. We were still doing it, and instead, it can be done online, and automated.
Other times, they can be outsourced or automated.
For example, one of these tasks that ended up on our list was watering the lawn. It is never the priority, and frankly speaking, wasn’t all that important. And it was silly to be spending time on.
Having this task show up on our list allowed us to prioritize tackling a sprinkler system in the yard to automate this task.
While the rest of the tasks on your list aren’t as easy to rank, this is where the rubber meets the road. These are the tasks on your list that have one component of the two, but not both.
This represents a great opportunity for you to evaluate and make decisions. Here are some great ways to think through the list, and how you can cut it down:
- You have to take your child to soccer practice, but could you start a carpool so you don’t have to do it every time?
- You have to cook dinner, but could you cook double and freeze the leftovers?
- You have to go to work, but could you work from home one day each week to cut out the commute?
- You have to vacuum, but could you get an automated vacuum to cut down on the amount and frequency?
The goal is to find ways to accomplish what is important, without continuing to do it all. It is possible, especially when you start approaching this part of your list with a new frame of mind.
In today’s fast paced world, the goal is not to get everything done every day. If that were the goal, we would all drive ourselves crazy. However, the goal can still be to get the most important things done.
By prioritising what is most important, you can free up time and energy to do what you want as well. You will know you’ve accomplished what has to be done, and free your heart and mind up for areas of your life that you want to pursue. Good luck!