Unless you assign your goals a relative order of importance, you will end up trying to tackle all your chaos at once, which will only overwhelm you and slow you down. Having a handle on your priorities is essential, especially to help you get back on track when you do find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed.
There are different methods for prioritization, but these are 2 of my favorites which I personally employ. Give them a try and see if they work for you too.
1. The P-System
The first and most obvious step to prioritizing your goals is to list them all out in the order of your chosen importance, 1 through 10 (or however many you have).
But what about beyond that? You’ll need to balance all the smaller steps you take towards reaching each goal. But how do you manage the priorities of all those?
I do it with something I call the P-system. It consists of the following values:
- P0 – means it needs to be done ASAP / in the next few hours
- P1 – means it needs to be done by the end of the day
- P2 – means it needs to be done within a week or so
- P3 – means it can get done whenever, low-priority
You’ll notice that all these values are based on deadlines, and how fast each needs to be accomplished. That’s the key to making sure you continue making progress – staying action-oriented in your priorities.
Then as you develop the game plan for each goal or resolution, and decide on each step you’ll need to take, assign it one of these priority values. I maintain all of my ongoing tasks in a spreadsheet with the P-value as one of the columns, so I can easily sort the list and keep my priorities in mind.
Remember – multitasking is a myth and can actually be quite disorienting and distracting. But if you prioritize properly, there is no need to multitask.
2. The Lists of Fives
Besides keeping all your tasks in a nicely laid out list, it can help to make other kinds of lists – especially if you are still a little fuzzy on what your priorities actually are and what’s most important to you.
Not everyone loves making lists, while others are way too obsessed with it. But if you do find yourself prone to this habit, this can definitely work in your favor.
Try this exercise – open a blank word or Google doc, and write the following headings:
- 5 Moments in My Life When I Felt Most Live
- 5 Things Those Moments Say About Me
- 5 Things I Love To Do
- 5 Things I Don’t Enjoy
- 5 Things I’m Really Good At
- 5 Things I’m Honestly Not Good At
- 5 Things I Enjoy About My Work
- 5 Things I Want to Add to My Work
- 5 Things I Could Do Without at Work
- 5 Things I Appreciate About My Life
- 5 Things I Want to Add to My Life
- 5 Things I Can Do Without in My Life
- 5 Things I Must Have in My Life (ideals or values I want my life to stand for)
Then number 1-5 below each and try to fill them out for each heading. It can be tough, but try tackling the easier ones first and they’ll help you get your head into the space where you can answer the harder ones. It may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to answer all these – you can even take a few days if you need to feel satisfied with your answers. And in the end, you’ll have the final answer vital to keep your priorities on track: 5 “Must Haves” for your life.
Because besides setting priorities based on how quickly things need to get done, it’s also important to base them on how important they are to you and the kind of a life you want to build for yourself.