Starting from Stephen Covey’s quote: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”, here are 4 ways to prioritize better:
1.Choose carefully where you write your priorities
Let’s say that you’ve set goals for this year, you have a to-do list and you start working. Daily, you should check your priorities. Choose a place that doesn’t have any distraction. For instance, if you choose your inbox, you might be distracted by an email or notifications.
2.Think of your long term goals when accepting a new task
If you know your long term goals (you can find a template here), than you can easily understand the difference between tasks that are correlated with your long term goal, and others that just came to you. You might be involved in a project that is not aligned with your goals. In this case, your efficiency might be influenced by the lack of alignment between goals and current actions. Moreover, you might actually confuse your colleagues or boss that expect a high degree of involvement. When did you analyze your involvement in the current projects?
3.Spend time on planning and updating your priorities
Choose the period that best fits you. There isn’t any magic formula, but there are many recommendation from highly efficient people. Most of them, plan their activities on Sunday, when they have “family meetings” in which they talk the week ahead. Also, they prepare for the day, the night before.
4.Start your day with your priorities
It’s easy to get distracted from your priorities. Let’s imagine the following scenario. You plan that when you reach your office, you will start working at the report that you were postponing since weeks ago. You think that you might have an urgent email and you open your inbox. You scan your inbox, and you find several emails that are “urgent”. One of them needs further preparation so you call a colleague. Finally, you send your email. You remember that you actually wanted to work on your report. A colleague comes at your office and starts telling you about a team building that she wants to plan and some ideas for the meeting that would start in 10 minutes. You wanted to work more at your report, but you have no more time. The meeting starts 10 minutes late, and lasts 30 minutes more than planned. You receive other emails…and thus, the report that wasn’t urgent, but very important is postponed for the next day. Even though you might want to work on it in the afternoon, your energy is lower and your creativity and focus decreased.
Start your day with your most important task and block the time needed to accomplish it. Robin Sharma proposed the 90/90 rule. For the next 90 days, use the first 90 minutes of your work day for your most important goal.