Let’s jump in and do this thing. Often that is my mentality. I am excitable and distractible. These can be the perfect storm for a problem when it comes to spending my time and then if you throw in a day where my kids are home that just ups the anty on the distractability and excitability of my day. This is one thing I know about myself when it comes to budgeting my time and energy.
The result is that I am susceptible to making the noisiest thing or the thing that someone else is telling me is urgent as my top priority. The problem is that noisiness or someone telling me something is urgent is the not the way I should figure out how to spend my time. The issue is urgency vs. importance.
A Day Full of Fires: How do you decide what your day will look like? Whether you go to work during the day, take care of children during the day, are retired, or work from home there is a need to decide what your day will look like… Making an intention or plan for our time helps us to get things done that we need to, set aside time for specific tasks, and know when we have time for appointments. The temptation can be to not make a plan for the time we have but just to take it as it comes. The problem with this is that eventually something or someone will call dibs on your time if you don’t do it yourself? Often what happens is that the things that come up most urgently or the fires that happen are what take up our time. Then we aren’t deciding how our time is spent our urgent situations or other people are the ones determining how our time is spent.
Prioritizing Your Energy: Because I know this trait in myself, it is important that I plan for it. When it comes to how I spend my time and energy during the day, I need to have a plan and criteria to help me determine where my time should be spent. The other thing about me and maybe most people is that we can easily come up with things we want to occupy our time, but we rarely get to everything we want to in a day. Because of this we need to decide which tasks are most important and which ones have the most urgency to be done today.
So here is one way to look at your day…Make a list of tasks that are immediately on your mind. Maybe you plan for the week or plan for the day. However, far you plan at a time…you do need to plan which items take the highest priority. If you don’t decide your priorities other people or situations will decide them for you.
Think of priority setting like this. Let me share with you this tool from Stephen Covey widely used by time management and productivity exports. It’s not just a workplace tool.
Draw a box and divide it in 4. See the image below.
You can also see the recommendation for tasks in each of these categories. The most glaring are Urgent and Important and Not Urgent and Not Important. Tasks that are Urgent and Important should be prioritized and dealt with first. Tasks that are not urgent and not important really need to be looked at. If they are either of these things then maybe they are not really things that you need to or should do.
Final thought: Not only do you need a plan to determine your priorities, but you also need to make sure you make it easier on yourself to fulfill your priorities. Just a simple example, if one of my priorities for the evening is to give my husband undivided attention maybe I better put the phone in another room. Because I know myself when I get a notification even if I don’t look my mental time is occupied because I am curious what it is about. Then I am not as present with my husband.