How to Prioritize – 5 Simple but Tough Tips
“Get your priorities straight man – you are a grown-up now!”
This is probably something that a lot of us have heard at one point in our life. But no one teaches us how to do this thing right. Let’s be honest here, a lot of you reading this are young adults who are working hard to set things straight and get your priorities straight.
But how do you prioritize things in a good manner?
Well, we are here to give you tips on just that. After all, this is not only your issue but ours as well. By writing this article we are keeping a reminder for us as well. So without any further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
1) Make a list of things you need to do
Making a list of “need to do” is the simplest yet hardest thing that one needs to do to prioritize. A lot of us don’t know what we are supposed to do. But that being said, if you don’t have any long-term plans, you will have some short terms plans. So make a list first.
For some, it may be making a list of things they need to do before they reach a certain economic goal or emotional goal or get a career.
It doesn’t matter which one it is, all you need to do is prepare a list of things that you think that you need to do to get started.
2) Identify what is important from that list
Now once you have made a list, you should identify the things that are important. For example, if you are making a list of things that you should do to get a job then you probably have a list of something like this
- Find a job
- Develop a skill
- Get to know people
- Increase the networking
- Increase the payroll
- Make a job Profile
In this list developing a skill is something that is important and after that comes getting to know people related to that skill. After that comes making a job profile, then finding a job.
Now this applies to all of the other things as well. If you are prioritizing savings then the first thing that will come to your mind is to eliminate extra spendings, then increase the pay, or get a promotion. If times are tough, you may even include finding extra jobs in your list of prioritization as well.
The point is, if it is important – keep it higher on the list of prioritization.
3) Highlight what is urgent
After keeping the important things on the top of your list, you should also note the urgency of the matter while prioritization as well. Among the tasks or goals that are important, filter out the ones that are not as urgent and then keep them lower on the list.
Let’s take a different example here.
Suppose you are an artist and you have a list that looks something like
- Find the inspiration
- Buy materials
- Get started
- Find the dealers
- Finish your art
- Deal with the sellers
- Sell the art
Here every one of these steps is important ones but among these, buying materials is the most urgent one, You cannot make art without the materials you need, Sure finding inspiration is more important as well but you can do that after buying the materials as well.
4) Learn to balance between Important and Urgent
This point is somewhat of a combination of the last two points. The thing is, while prioritizing things it is easy to get confused between tasks and goals that are important and those that are urgent. So in order to avoid this confusion learn to differentiate between them and think through them calmly.
Here are a few questions that may help you to do this
- Is the task important?
- How long can you take to complete that task?
- Will the task affect your decisions about other tasks?
- Can you live peacefully for a while without completing the said task?
- Suppose you have a list of tasks A, B, C, D, and E at hand and you need to prioritize.
- Can you finish another task before the deadline for task A? – Yes,
- then what tasks can you do before you need to finish task A? – B and C
- Will Task B and C affect your decisions about other tasks? – No, Then move on to B and C
- Which among tasks B and C can you live without doing? – Task B
- Then switch it to the end of the priority list and start doing C and then do A
If you map out your decisions, it will be somewhat of a flow chart with decision boxes at every step.
It is a bit troublesome but once you decide on this, the decision pattern will be like a blueprint for you which you can later on as well.
5) Be realistic
While making these decisions, it is easy to keep unrealistic expectations from the goals and tasks. But just remember that if you don’t organize things realistically, then all the efforts will be for naught. Take a breather, take some coffee – heck you can take a smoke if you need to.
You need to calm down first and understand the real-time requirement, effort requirement, finance requirement, and output as well. Remember that if you are prioritizing for the long run, you will be investing months following this list.
Also on the topic of being realistic, be ready to take some time for a few additional tasks or goals as a week in between. Reall life is unpredictable after all and there may be a few detours along the way.
The gist of prioritization is knowing what to do and where to reach and balancing between urgency and the importance of the steps required to do or reach that place. It can be anything from a short-term goal to making the plan of your life to a certain phase. The point is planning the steps based on realistic expectations while being prepared for detours. It will be hard but it will be worth it.
Hope you found this helpful. If you have any suggestions for us, do let us know in the comments below. And as always, thank you for reading till the end.