To prioritize means to arrange things in the order they ought to be done. This sounds easy but there are two critical concepts that determine this order of doing things: urgent and important. Urgency and importance can often become blurred, and many seek to do the important at the expense of the urgent, thereby inadvertently mismanaging time. A key foundation to choosing when to do what is to figure out what is urgent and what is important.

To ascertain the difference, start by thinking of what you need to do, then write these items down.
Next, assign dates to each activity. The dates will help you determine the urgent, i.e., what must be done immediately. These are actions, which if ignored, will result in “dog eating your share,” a saying meaning “big trouble” in Trinidad. (I’ve not forgotten the cat, it’s coming up.)

After assigning dates, go through your list and identify those activities that only you can do, and those which can be delegated to someone else, including the cat. If you can’t delegate, or if the cat won’t cooperate, it might be time to strikethrough. Cat won't cooperate Ask of each item – “Is this a want or a need?” Always attend to needs first. (Be warned- “wants” can magically transform into “needs” when this exercise is undertaken.)

If a “transformation” takes place, or if you are not sure if an activity is a need or a want, it’s time to assign a weight to each item. In its simplest form, a weight is a number that helps determine what is most critical. (Note- you can find detailed decision matrices with complex criteria and rankings on the Internet but I’ve kept my illustration simple).

Below is an example of my to-do list and decision matrix using weights and logic:(I was unable to create a chart in the body of the blog, but double on the photo to enlarge the matrix. ) Chart on Weighing Decisions
• Send query letters
• Get permission from media or other bodies for use of images, clips etc
• Buy Diet Pepsi
• Pay bills
• Feed cat and family
• Attend school concert
• Begin promoting on social media

As the chart shows, suddenly I have either rooted out entirely, or shifted two activities, to another time, and I’ve found “hidden” time (time that is not obvious). This example is rudimentary but the principle stands true in utilizing time optimally.

Homework YOUR TURN – Try this exercise for a week and track your progress. If nothing, it will create an awareness of how you spend your time, and where you can find “hidden” time.

COMING UP ON MONDAY, May 11 – Setting Boundaries.

(Crayon and Urgent photos courtesy Free Digital Photos.)

Find Susan Harris’s Books at http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Harris/e/B007XMP4QS/



Susan Harris is a speaker, former teacher and the author of six books, including 10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Right Where You Are, and the acclaimed, Little Copper Pennies series. She has written articles for anthologies, magazines and blogs, and is a monthly contributor to The Word Guild blog. Susan is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, The Word Guild, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals. Susan has held key management positions in churches and in corporations. She currently resides on the Canadian Prairies with her family and the beloved cats which have been the inspiration for her publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her latest picture book, Alphabet on The Farm.

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