Did you ever work hard, knock a bunch of stuff off your to-do list, but then still feel lousy? Did you still feel buried under a pile of work? There is a good chance that you were working on the most urgent, not the most important.
There is a way to do both! You can learn to Double Prioritize. I learned this trick way back in the day, before there were smart phones or other electric organizers. This goes all the way back to Daytimers (C’mon you Old School people—can I get a witness?). But it still serves me well and it will help you too.
First, let’s contrast urgent vs important, then we’ll double prioritize!
Urgent tasks are the things that crave for our immediate attention, like returning a text or email. These are the little things we do all day then, at the end of the day, find ourselves further behind.
Important tasks are the ones that will really make a difference two days or two weeks from now.
Answer the request for your restaurant recommendations? Urgent. Spend quality time with your kids or grandkids? Important.
Here’s what you do. On a piece of paper or on your computer, draw two short lines followed to by long lines like this: (Free download below)
Write your tasks to be completed on the long lines. Then, on the first short line rate the importance of the task, either “A” or “B.” For me, exercise, meeting client deadlines, helping leaders grow, staying connected to God, writing my blog and spending time with family—those always receive an “A.” Doing my laundry, watching a show that I have recorded, cleaning out the garage, trying a new recipe—those are going to receive a “B” when it comes to importance.
Now prioritize all of you’re A’s. Just the A’s, don’t worry about the B’s yet. For me, connecting with God, and keeping commitments to family are rated higher than exercise or writing my blog (but all are A’s so they are all important).
Now do the same thing for your B list, prioritize those items.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In the past, if you completed a bunch of B list items, you were “busy” all day but you still felt lousy. Why? Because your time ran out before you accomplished the harder yet most important thing you could have worked on. So start with A1! Even if you only finish part of it, the rest of the day you’ll feel great about your effort. Go for it.
Again, I’ve created a helpful pdf that you can download here.