Prioritizing your life is actually easier than you think even if at the beginning everything seems equally important. But if you write down all the things you have to get done you will see that it’s actually not the case. Not every goal is equally important and not every task has to be done in the early morning. But to be able to understand it you have to adopt a single-tasking method first.
I know how multitasking is appreciated in today’s labor market but we all know that it works only in theory, not in practice. Of course, it would be great to be able to fully focus on 10 things at one time but it’s just not possible because we’re humans, not robots. So if you think that there’s something wrong with you because you can’t multitask don’t worry, you’re absolutely normal. Furthermore, according to a Harvard studies human brain can’t multitask so if you try to master this non-existing skill stop it right now and start practicing single-tasking.
Singletasking based on prioritizing is a much better method of navigating your professional and personal life because it gives you the opportunity to give 100% of yourself to things you want to accomplish in a specific timeframe without getting stressed and anxious.
If you struggling with prioritizing your life here are some tips that I learned along the way:
- Make a list of all the things you want to get done
- Order this tasks by importance (high, medium and low importance)
- Break down big tasks on small manageable pieces to avoid confusion, anxiety, and distraction.
- Start from the most important tasks – your top prioritizes that creates the most significant results
- Once you’ve mastered your top prioritizes you can focus on the next thing on your list
- Do only the work that matters to you, don’t waste your time for the things you don’t want or don’t need to do
- Celebrate your accomplishments – remember that even a small accomplishment matters because it brings you closer to your goals.
2. Create An Effective Schedule
Schedule means getting things done. It helps to organize your tasks and use your time more effectively.
Scheduling is an effective planning method that will help you to achieve your goals within a specific timeframe. Of course, everyone is different. Some people are able to remember everything with no need to organize their time and schedule. Others write down all their meetings, projects and other tasks somewhere on the last page on their paper notebook or on different Post-its and it works for them.
I, on the other hand, I must have everything perfectly organized. I’m easily distracted so I really need to keep tracking of what I’m supposed to do during the day otherwise I will forget. It took me some time to figure out my own method for effective planning and scheduling but it perfectly works for me. Here are some tips that I learned along the way.
1.Combine paper planner and digital agenda
- Take advantage of technology for creating an effective schedule (use a digital calendar, laptop, scheduling apps)
- Don’t underestimate the power of paper – use paper notebook and Post-its for to-do lists and your top priorities
2. Schedule your day in a framework that works for you
- Prioritize your tasks and put them in order that makes sense for you
- Create your schedule the night before to avoid morning stress and anxiety and start your day fresh, relaxed and inspired.
3.Adopt a morning ritual habit
- Take 10-15 minutes in the early morning to check all your agendas (paper and digital), lists, notes, calendars and make a to-do list for the day
- Before going out make sure that you took a paper agenda with you. You never know when an inspiring thought will come to you!
This is my method of effective scheduling that keeps me organized and relatively calm during even a stressful day. You can use it for creating your own schedule or figure out your own highly personalized system. It’s up to you!
3. Create A Flexible Routine
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”― Aristotle
As already observed in ancient times we are creatures of habits and what we do in a regular and repeated way creates the quality of our life. And it’s not a secret that we find comfort in regularity, consistency, and predictability. That’s why when something unpredictable and unexpected happens we get anxious, confused and stressed immediately.
On the contrary, when we act in an organized, well-planned and systematic way achieving our goals become much easier and quite fun. It’s because success is no accident but a hard, well-organized and properly planned work. This is what every successful person tells you. To achieve your goals you need to create powerful habits first. These habits combine to form your daily routine that itself is crucial to effective time management and balancing professional and personal life.
There are many different benefits of having a healthy and powerful daily routine but probably the most important is that a healthy routine helps you to organize your time and schedule in an effective way, maximize your energy level and minimize the amount of time you waste figuring out what you should do next.
When I was younger I hated routine because it was imposed on me by my family members and teachers. Now when I am a grown up I make my own routine that fits my lifestyle and helps me to maintain my mental and physical wellbeing. Of course, not everything is strictly planned because it would make life incredibly boring, monotonous and uninspired. I leave some space for inspiration and unscheduled activities and the sweetness of doing nothing! It’s exactly what makes my life balanced.
4. Set SMART Goals
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Goals.
This method will help you to turn your dreams into goals and achieve them without wasting your time for some wishful thinking or unspecified thoughts and ideas.
- Truly Focus on your goals
Block the obvious distractions for greater focus.
Don’t compare yourself to others because it will make you feel distracted, confused and anxious. Set your goals and align them with your life’s purpose.
- Break down all of your major goals into manageable and measurable steps.
Major goals or big projects seem overwhelming but only if you try to do everything at once. Instead, limit your focus to one specific step and then, once you master that part you are able to shift over and focus on the next thing on the list.
- Make a Specific and Effective Action Plan for your goals
Once you’ve established your goals you need to create an effective action plan otherwise your goals remain just wishful thinking without any real possibility of achieving them.
Wish is NOT a Goal
Thoughts are NOT a Plan
- Create a timeline and schedule your goals
Set a realistic timeline for your goal
- Track your progress and be proud of your all accomplishments
Tracking your progress helps you to reach your goals and increases your sense of purpose.
Celebrating your accomplishments will boost your confidence, self-esteem, positive self-talk, and motivation.
5. Align Goals With Your Purpose
Everyone has its own unique purpose in life that requires a concrete action to fulfill. This concrete action is nothing other than a designed action plan for your goals. Look at it this way: Goals are your journey and purpose is your destination. Which basically means that achieving your goals brings you closer to your life purpose. Sounds logical, right?
However, before you even start moving towards your goals make sure they are in alignment with your purpose. In other words, set the right goals for the life you actually want. So instead of setting goals for the wrong reasons, doing the wrong things and going in the wrong direction act in alignment with your true life purpose.
Let’s say your life’s purpose is to become a successful writer. So what are you doing to achieve that? Are you mastering your writing skills? Are you attending a creative writing course? Are you reading books considered “the greatest of all time” to improve your writing vocabulary? Or you just sitting in your room, dreaming about becoming a writer and doing absolutely nothing to achieve that? Because whether you like it or not, thinking about your goals won’t magically provide the results you want. It’s just not going to happen. You have to take the right action first. You have to act in alignment with your true life purpose. It is an essential condition for achieving greater success and living a fulfilling life. Otherwise, you will be only wasting your time, doing the wrong things and going in the wrong direction. And eventually, you will end up confused, overwhelmed and extremely distracted. That’s no fun at all, is it?
So, are you living in alignment with your life purpose? Are you setting the right goals? If not, don’t panic. Instead, look at yourself, re-evaluate your goals and set the right ones for the life you actually want.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Because everyone has their own, unique life purpose, a fundamental theme, an essence, a leitmotif of their entire life.
You have your own, unique path that leads to your own, unique life destination and your talents, passions, skills, abilities, interests, dreams and uniques experiences are meant to guide you there. Align your goals with your life purpose and you will create the successful life you want.
6. Eliminate Decisions
How many unnecessary decisions do you make every day? And most importantly, how many non-critical decisions you could reduce to save time and free your brain for more important tasks? Just think about it. Do you spend too much time thinking about what to wear, what to eat, where to go out with your friends, what kind of workout you want to do, what book you should read first or what Netflix show you should watch etc.?
We tend to attach great importance to completely irrelevant things instead of focusing on what’s really important for us. And then we realize it, it’s usually too late because we wasted the greater part of our day doing absolutely nothing and now it’s time for bed.
Let me tell you, I used to dedicate so much time and mental energy to make completely unimportant and unnecessary decisions like what jeans should I wear, what smoothie should I make for breakfast, what podcast should I listen first, what coffee should I order and the list goes on… And you know what? I stopped doing that. Instead of making countless non-critical decisions every single day I set up my morning, daily and night routine. It’s that simple. Routine decrease your mental clutter, eliminates all the unnecessary decisions and saves you a lot of time that you can use for more important tasks.
So tell me, what are the necessary decisions you make daily? What can you eliminate from your decision-making process to save yourself some time and energy? Once you’ve figured this out, cut all the unnecessary decisions and focus on your priorities.
7. Stop Overthinking
Think less, do more. Stop overthinking and live in the present. Take action and enjoy the process instead of constantly worrying about the outcome. Besides, there won’t be any outcome if you just keep thinking, analyzing and worrying about what might happen instead of taking an action. Overthinking it’s just a time consumer that creates problems that aren’t there anymore! So stop procrastinating on your projects by visualizing the worst parts, because you will not achieve anything. Not to mention that most likely you will end up feeling overwhelmed, anxious and incredibly unmotivated. So take action towards your goals not towards your distractions. Don’t wait for motivation but go and get it! Just start where you can start but start for a God’s sake. Don’t wait for the perfect moment because it may never come. Life is so perfectly imperfect that you never know what is going to happen next. That’s why if you wait too long you may lose your last chance. Sometimes “later” means “never” and we all have to realize that. Don’t make this mistake. Because worse than regret failure is regret not trying at all.
The majority of people believe that motivation is the cause for action but actually is the opposite way around. It’s the action that creates motivation. Furthermore, the more action you take towards your goals the more motivated you become. I’m sure you have noticed that when you actually start doing things you feel almost immediately inspired, motivated and just good about yourself. It’s because on some unconscious level you know that even a small accomplishment brings you closer to your goal.
So don’t waste your precious time for overthinking and overanalyzing because it’s only blocking your success. Instead, get outside your comfort zone, face your fears of hypothetical failure and start before you’re ready and improve along the way. Trust me it’s the only way to achieve the life you want. Waiting for things to happen won’t make them magically happen. Just like waiting for motivation won’t get you motivated. So instead of overthinking embrace feeling uncomfortable and “not ready” and take action towards tour goals. Get started right now, turn your action into something meaningful and you will see the results.
Probably the first thing to do is to understand that your room/place is the externalization of your mind. Which basically means that if your external personal space is a complete mess your mind is drowning in chaos. And let me tell you something, it is definitely not constructive chaos. I mean don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that you should switch on “pedantic cleaner” mode because that would be moving from one extreme to another. Besides, there is nothing good, creative, innovative, interesting or sexy in obsessive cleaning. What I mean is that you cannot effectively navigate your life if you are surrounded by a complete mess. It’s just impossible. Because let’s face it, if you are not organized you are disorganized and if you’re not oriented toward something you are disoriented… and we all know that it’s a straight path to failure.
So, clean your environment, keep your space organized and get rid of unnecessary stuff. Straight up what you can straight up and improve what you can improve right here and right now. But please don’t start tomorrow but act now.
The rule is simple: Messy environment creates chaos in your head and cleaning your outside personal space minimizes this chaos.
So, start doing your mental housekeeping from cleaning and organizing your external personal space!
Learning to say “no” is crucial for effective time management because it helps you to focus on your own goals, values, and prioritizes. Let’s face it if you won’t put yourself first no one will. That’s the bitter truth. Just ask yourself, how many times you helped others to achieve their goals and you didn’t even hear a “Thank you”? I bet, it happened more than once. So, let’s avoid it to happen again.
How? Well, just avoid doing things that are important to others but not related to your own priorities nor benefiting you in any way because it’s just a waste of time an energy. Instead, work for your own success.
Of course, I’m not saying that you should never help others because that would be a pure egotism. What I mean is that, if you want to help someone to achieve their goal go ahead and do it but do it mindfully without sacrificing yourself.
And when you want to say “no” just say “no” without falling for guilt trips. I know how hard saying “no” can be, especially if you are a people pleaser. But remember, that you’re under no obligation to explain and justify your opinions and choices to the others. If you can’t or don’t want to do something you have been asked for you don’t have to and a simple “no” as an answer should be enough. (please bear in mind that we’re not talking about familial duties or workplace responsibilities)
Train yourself not to feel guilty about putting yourself first and act in alignment with your own priorities, goals, and values.
And manage your time and schedule mindfully!