Priority Problems

We all have problems. We have problems of all kinds and varieties-some small, some large. Either way we want to find solutions to the problems that we come across. Just like the problems, the solutions may be simple or complex, or in steps. We need steps to solve the problems we have. We need to have priorities in order to solve the more complex problems and situations in our lives. We also need priorities in general for our schedules, budgets, goals, and to do lists. With a complex world and busy lives that we live, it is easy to have problems setting priorities or have them, but out of order. Below are just a few signs that we have priority problems.

  1. We don’t have any priorities. This is not as obvious as it sounds. There are times when we just don’t set priorities. We do whatever comes up at the moment or whatever we want to do at the time. This happens when there really isn’t anything much to do, which can happen at some time in anyone’s life. Also, it could happen if we are just busy and are running around putting fires out, dealing with emergencies, and possibly saving the world without any plan. Good luck with that.
  2. We have too many priorities. This is the opposite problem. We sit down and plan and we find out how busy we really are and make everything a priority! We have long to do lists with 100+ items on the priority list. Think that is extreme? It has happened to me before. I quickly realized that out of the 100+ priorities, there are only about 20 really good items that were true priorities at the moment.  It all comes down to this: we can only do one thing at a time. So determining how you view priorities is important. This leads to my next point.
  3. We misdefine priorities. We fail to determine what an actual priority is. We may make something a priority that really isn’t. It may need to get done, even the same day, but is not the priority at the moment. There are many ways to view our priorities, whether it is on pen and paper, on a word document, in Excel, in a task management program like Nozbe or any of the other task/project management programs out there. Whichever method we do use, we need to develop a system to track actual priorities.
  4. We don’t actively monitor our priorities. The actual frequency will be best determined by you, depending on how much work you have to do and what kind of pace your to do items come in. In an environment with a lot of urgency, it is best to view priorities at least every day, probably more than once a day. In a more relaxed environment, maybe once a week is enough. 
  5. We over monitor our priorities. When it comes to the point where determining our priorities is the top priority, then there is a problem. It is possible to get caught up in doing the priorities so perfect that we waste more time doing that than anything else. It is important that we don’t spend too much time setting priorities to the point that we lose time and end up not getting the priorities we are setting actually done!

There are all kinds of problems we can run into while trying to solve the problems. With practice and determination, we improve at picking our priorities and getting our tasks done in a way that is efficient and effective. Those are just a few pitfalls. Please let me know your thoughts and experiences with finding your top to dos of the moment. 

The Fallacy of "I Don't Have Time"

    So many people complain about not having time. In fact, I am guilty of this. I do it nearly everyday. My time is very scarce. Because of this, the tactics of time budgeting that I discussed earlier come in to play. It is important to realize how much time you actually have. The next question is how do you go about this? Upon completion of accurate record of time usage and budgeting, it then becomes pretty clear how much time is actually left. What you will likely find is that you have more time than you think, especially after you go through the exercise of actually making a budget and a schedule. This was true for my experience.

    When you find out you have more time than you actually think, you then realize “I don’t have time” is not actually the case. So then you refer to your longer term goals and focus on what you really want to accomplish. These are the goals you want to make time for. Assuming you are able to find extra time after this process, the next step is to train yourself to stop saying the following words “I don’t have time.” This is extremely difficult to break. I am still trying to do that! This could take quite a while to master. I will let you know when I get there, I have not yet!

     Now if you can’t find any extra time at all, you need to reevaluate your schedule. You are then way too busy and need to cut things out. This would be a good time to reread the “Cut the Clutter” post. Even if you are not too busy, it is a good time to reevaluate the activities. It is important to re-evaluate your activities regularly as life is always changing and we are going through different stages.

Time Management Success Story #1 - Me

       As I grew up and went through school, I was younger and less experienced with life and I was not an expert in time management. I did whatever had to be done, whatever was urgent. Many people live their lives like this. They wake up and start putting out fires right away. They run around like chickens without their heads and really don't get much accomplished. That was me for many of my days in my life, especially when I was in school. Another type of person procrastinates and is calm and relaxed until it's the last minute. That was never me. If I had something to do and it was undone, I would be worried about it until it was done. It would have made much more sense for me to just do it rather than worry about it. All of that energy could have gone to getting it done. 

      A concept I wish I had growing up was a time budget. Just like a financial budget, one can make a time budget. Even though I just recently started doing this, following a time budget has already made a huge difference in my life. I am now keenly aware of activities of which I am overdoing or not doing enough. However, just like a financial budget, it takes time to prepare and upkeep. It is well worth the investment! With this practice in place, I am living life on purpose and taking control of my life. The largest variances are due to incorrect budgeting, which is done because this practice is still relatively new for me. Other than that, it is a very helpful exercise.                   

      Now my time budget is extremely detailed and I personally enjoy knowing where every minute is going. This can be done in many different ways. For example, start with just a few major activities and track them - i.e. work, family, chores, etc. This is also very helpful if you know of an activity that you want to cut such as social media, TV, Internet, etc. As I get better with time budgeting, I hope to help you get just as excited as I am.