We all have 24 hours in a day. Yet it feels as though some of us have 38 hours in a day to get all their stuff done and I’m still trying to catch up on turning in my expenses from 3 weeks ago and washing my smoothie cup from 6am this morning…but I digress.
Managing ourselves is the first person we have to learn to manage before we can effectively manage those around us. Whether we are a parent, a spouse, a team leader at work, the person leading the organization or the church, we have to manage self. This will always be our most difficult person to manage. If you lead yourself correctly, others will trust you, back you and follow you. If you lead yourself poorly, you’ll eventually lose the people you need the most. That’s why learning prioritization will be your greatest gift you can give to yourself and those around you. The truth is we may not ever get it all done in one day…but we can get EVERYTHING done that you have realistically prioritized for TODAY to give you satisfaction for today.
We all have the same amount of time given to each of us every day. Your deliberate use of the time everyone else wastes will give you the edge everyone else wants. Maybe that’s why God instructs us that counting the days (even hours and minutes) gives us the wisdom we need to live the life we were made to have (Psalm 90:12).
Here are some quick hitters to get you going on learning to prioritize your day:
Realize that everything you think is important isn’t that important
There are many things that want our attention. There are many voices that shout at us to give it attention. So our focus becomes divided. The demands of others can paralyze us. Just like a lion in a three-ring circus who sees the man in front of him. But once the chair is places in front of him and all 4 legs are in front of the lion, this once “killing machine” becomes a paralyzed cat unable to focus on the four legs not to mention the man holding the chair (that’s why the lion-tamer has a chair-weird, but I get it now). Focus on one thing at a time and watch your to-do list become a done-and-done list. God makes that easy by reminding us this simple principle in prioritizing:
“Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Work smarter not harder
I don’t know who started that phrase but I’ve heard that in all my leadership circles. Being more intense at what you need to do doesn’t magically give you more time. But being more insightful at what you need to do helps you find a better way making the most of what you have. Prioritize the time to discover new app’s for better productivity. Find others that you trust to help be a “second set of hands” to work on “that” while you do “this.” Devote yourself to finding a solution for the problem instead of drifting into maintenance of the problem.
create “white space” in your life
In design, “white space” is negative space. It’s not blank space because it has a purpose. It is balancing the rest of the design by bringing what is on the page into greater view. The white space helps focus your visual attention. We need white space in our daily lives just as much as we need it in design because the idea reveals that if our lives are over-cluttered and over-booked, we can’t prioritize. Time scarcity is like kryptonite for productivity. We need to build into our calendar because a lot of activity is not mean a lot of accomplishments. The greater the responsibilities, the greater the need for “white space” in your day.
Stop Making everything a priority makes nothing a priority
When you say everything has high priority, then everything will have inferiority. When you make everything a priority you ultimately make nothing a priority. If you do this, this reveals that you have a hard time making decisions. When you are unable and unwilling to make any decisions, you won’t get anything done. Not only does your list continue to get longer and longer but it also makes you unstable:
“For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable.” James 1:6-8 TPT
Resist “your good” sabotaging “your best”
It’s easy to prioritize the good decisions from the bad. For example, “Do I binge another season of Shark Tank or do I finally paint over our purple bathroom (from the last owner of our house) the grey Joanna Gaines swears by which the wife bought for me that has been sitting in our bathroom for two weeks?” Obviously it’s watching Mark Cuban battle it out with the others sharks for a musical toilet seat. The real challenge is prioritizing the good decisions from the great decisions. They can look similar but will have a different result. Take time to discover what is the best use of your time as you prioritize your life.
Choose to be proactive not reactive
Being proactive means “I have things to do.” Being reactive means, “I have to do things.” If you have the charachteristics of a proactive person, that means you preparing, planning, anticipating, responsible and effective. If you have the charactheristics of a reactive person, this means you are repairing instead of preparing. A reactive person is preventing instead of planning. They are reacting instead of anticipating. Also, they are putting requests of others in the calendar instead of putting their responsibilities for others in the calendars. Ultimately they are reactive instead of effective.
PARATO YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF
The “Pareto Principle” is a familiar concept to many of us named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (If I ever have another child, that’s his first and middle name). This is commonly known as the 80/20 principle. Applying this principle simply implies that 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent return on your productivity, if you spend your time and energy on the top 20 percent of your priorities. Simply put, discover and catagorize the top 20% of your to-do list and you will get an 80% return. How’s that for day’s work?
Any other’s you would add?