HOW TO PRIORITIZE WHEN EVERYTHING IS URGENT
Don’t panic over your mile-long to-do list.
We’ve all been there. You take a look at your to-do list for the day and break into a sweat. You think, “How can I possibly get it all done? How can I even figure out what to do first when everything is equally time-pressing?” The answer: Take a deep breath, then ask yourself these questions to develop a strategic plan of attack.
WHICH OF THE IMPORTANT TASKS ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL?
“But they are all urgent!” you say. When you’re swamped, sorting through a hefty to-do list can seem overwhelming. But the work presentation that is due in one week probably isn’t the most pressing thing on your plate. Try taking a step back and looking at only what needs to get done today, like an overdue performance evaluation.
WHICH DEADLINE IS SOONEST?
Time is a variable we can't change. After you’ve taken care of essential tasks for today, if you’re having trouble figuring out what to do next, try reordering your to-do list by the dates things need to happen by. That way, you can focus on meeting upcoming deadlines. As much as you may enjoy scrolling through recipes for your child’s second birthday cake, getting the invitations out for the party should really happen first.
WHICH THING ON THE LIST HAS THE MOST VALUE?
Ask yourself which of the tasks offer the greatest benefit to your life. For example, working on a project for a client may come before cleaning out your inbox, because it has bigger monetary ramifications if it goes unfinished.
WHICH TASK WILL TAKE THE MOST EFFORT?
If more than one task has equally high value, rank them based on effort. Is one something you can knock out in a minute or two, like making a doctor’s appointment for your daughter or scheduling a lunch with your boss? Get the easy task out of the way so you can focus on the one that needs more attention.
CAN ANY OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES BE DELEGATED?
Can you pass off any of the urgent-but-less-valuable tasks to someone else? Forward the grocery list to your partner so they can run that errand while you take care of other chores. You can also do double-duty and turn errands and chores into family games.
ARE YOU REMEMBERING TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?
When you’re trying to simultaneously build a 30-slide presentation for work, plan your kid’s birthday party, get your partner to make an eye doctor appointment, and put dinner on the table (not to mention deal with all the other demands of life), it’s easy to forget that you also need to prioritize taking care of yourself, too. Schedule in even 20 minutes to just sit down with puppy videos and take a supplement like Emergen-C Immune+®, which helps support your immune system so you can keep crossing those items off your list.
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