Finding time gets easier as you learn to prioritize effectively. To do this, you absolutely must avoid The Musical Chairs Syndrome. Do you suffer from these symptoms?
- Your priorities are dislodged from their assigned order as soon as your day heats up.
Each task has to scramble for a new place. Before long, you are working off of urgency, not overview or efficiency.
- You feel out of control.
You ask people to bail you out, or you feel people let you down, because you’re caught once again with too much to do in too little time.
- You lose credibility.
People mistrust your plans and your boundaries, because you’re constantly revising your priorities, wasting their time and yours.
Fortunately, you can cure this syndrome! Just practice and perfect the following 3 tips:
- List each and every task that you need to accomplish.
- Sort these into 2 lists: ongoing tasks and one-time events
- Circle time-limited items in each category. (Those that must be accomplished by a certain date and/or time.)
- Determine which ongoing tasks are most important, and, if needed, how much cooperation is required.
For example, you must file a budget report by the third Tuesday of each month. Since it’s involves finance, it is probably a high priority. If you simply need to integrate daily records, this job is a relatively short and straightforward. Therefore, you can schedule it around more complex tasks.
But if you need financial information from six people to do this report, and you don’t obtain all the figures until the day before the report is due, this task becomes “time-limited” and therefore a top priority!
Whenever you are dependent on other people for information or material, your task’s level of difficulty increases. This is because you may have to take additional steps to get the data you need. And certainly you need to build in time to integrate the information and create a cohesive report.
So, when prioritizing, look for dependencies. When a task is dependent upon others, it becomes a higher priority.
- Next, examine your short-term or one-time events. What tasks on this list carry the greatest consequences for yourself or others? Mark these as highest priority.
For example, if your child needs a costume in 2 weeks, it is a high priority! If you do not get this done, your child will be the only one in the play without a costume.
The more carefully you have established your priorities, the more easily you can create a system to follow through with action steps. How can you develop the action steps you need to experience success at prioritizing and finding time?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.