Planning and Prioritizing — The Long and the Short of It

planning priorities

Planning and prioritizing — 3 tips for you…

Planning and prioritizing are core time management skills.

These skills aren’t always easy to implement, especially when competing priorities are in play.

So, today I’d like to take a look at some tips for addressing the tough time problems that crop up when you’re dealing with demands and pressures that are, effectively, polar opposites:

Planning Tip #1

Turn LONG-TERM TASKS into SHORT-TERM TASKS.

Do you struggle with keeping complex and lengthy projects going at the same time that you continue to attend to daily, discrete tasks? Well, here are 3 proven time tools that will help:

  • Reverse Planning with a Calendar: Write your due date for long-term tasks on your calendar. Then divide the necessary steps into daily tasks. Schedule those steps on the days between now and the due date. Start with the due date and work back. Voila — each step has become a short-term task.
  • A Short, Short To-Do List: Now you are balancing only short-term tasks, which is much easier. Put everything that you absolutely need to complete today on your To-Do List, and nothing else.
  • A Long, Master List: Any and all projects that can wait another day go onto your Master List. Consult this at the end of the day to prepare your To-Do List for tomorrow. Prioritize in advance to reduce stress.

Planning Tip #2

Distinguish SINGLE FOCUS from MULTI-TASK jobs in advance.

  • How often do you attempt to do two things at once, only to sabotage both? Avoid this common temptation; list what tasks can be successfully doubled up on your To-Do List. (For example, using your treadmill while listening to a teleclass). Just as important, make a note of which tasks can’t be doubled up – like checking emails while discussing a project with a coworker. Refer to this list as often as needed to strengthen your resolve.
  • Reduce urgency by starting the day with your top priorities whenever possible. Then you’re less likely to slide into old multi-tasking habits as important deadlines loom.
  • Observe how mindfulness further enhances your effectiveness. Physical tasks like yard work can become strength builders and part of your exercise regimen. Eating alone can become a restorative meditation.

Planning Tip #3

Schedule SEASONAL DEMANDS alongside ONGOING RESPONSIBILITIES.

  • Enhance your life by honoring natural rhythms. Notice what parts of your day flow, and when you find seasonal tasks easiest to attend to. Then plan accordingly. For example, if spring cleanup goes best when you work alongside others, enlist their support well in advance, and decide on an optimal time.
  • Develop templates for each seasonal project, listing the individual steps and what supplies you need on hand. You will see how this approach works beautifully with Reverse Calendars.
  • Although seasonal projects often have “soft deadlines,” pencil them on your calendar and To-Do list early on. (Fall tasks, however, often have the hard deadline of cold temperatures and the first snowfall.) Tasks you can accomplish alone, of course, have maximum flexibility.

As you see, even these polar opposites can be accommodated when you approach them with some lead-time and presence of mind. Let me know how these tips work for you.

Let’s explore time together…

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