Doing Too Much? How To Prioritize Your Day

We're slowly recovering from the rollover last week. My son's doing better this week, but we're still not out of the woods. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and well-wishes. It really did make the whole week seem better.

Through it all, thankfully, I still managed to get the important things in my life and work done. How? I learned a very simple way to prioritize my day so that what's really important gets handled. No. Matter. What.

About a year ago, I shared a brief overview of The PEACE System in one of the first season episodes. The one hurdle that people keep bringing to me is the never-ending to-do list. Despite prioritizing everything, there's a LOT of to-do's that still aren't getting done.

This week, we're digging into why.

If your to-do list is too long, here's how to fix it for good.

Warning: you may be stepping on a few toes when you do, but never fear! The Spice Girls are here to help you!

Three kinds of To-Do's

Inside The PEACE System, I talk about three different kinds of to-do's. By paying attention to the different kinds of to-do's on your list, you can get a better handle on what is keeping you from getting more of the right things done.

Must-Do's are activities that must be done AND must be done by YOU, in order to reap the benefit. Generally, these are what I consider IPA - Important Personal Activities, or Income-Producing Activities. The definitions of those terms (like so many of the terms I use) are loose, and open to your interpretation. Brushing your teeth is a must-do. It's not likely you're going to get someone else to do it for you, and if you don't do it, well, there are consequences. Within the Must-Do category, there are a couple of types of Must-Do's - Routine/preventative (like brushing your teeth, seeing your kid's class play, or doing client work, for example), and Emergency (car roll-over, in-laws decided to drop in, that kind of thing).

The irony of many Emergency Must-Do's is that they are often (but not always) the result of NOT doing the Routine Must-Do's. If you don't get your tires checked on schedule, you could end up with a blowout on the freeway which causes the car to roll over - and the subsequent trip to the Emergency room. Do not skip the Routine stuff just because it's unsexy, or doesn't seem urgent. Preventative maintenance is crucial in your life and business!

Want To-Do's are all those activities related to the fun things we really want to do - like taking a trip (or planning it), visiting friends, working on a hobby, reading, watching a movie, etc. These aren't things that move the needle on our business, and they're not necessarily Must Do's, but we really want to do them. Chaotic and Fusion creatives tend to have a long list of Want To-Do's, which can lead to resentment, anger, frustration, and other disempowering emotions when you can't find the time to do those things. This typically results in an "all or nothing" rampage where work on everything else stops until you can clear some of the Want To-Do's off your list. Like the day I refused to do any work and just binge-watched my favorite show on Netflix all day. Not productive, but I sure did enjoy myself - until I started feeling guilty about not getting any work done.

Should-Do's are the bane of humanity. And I don't say that lightly. Everything from the well-meaning insinuations of your friends and family ("you should really finish packing for your trip, sweetie!"), to the more overt accusations we throw at ourselves ("I should really get to the gym this week!"), Should-Do's are the things that we throw into our day without making them a real priority. In the end, you may find yourself accomplishing a lot of Should-Do's, but not moving forward on your most important priorities at all. You sure are busy, but you're spinning your wheels on unimportant tasks - or worse, waffling from "should" to "should" - like bouncing back and forth between email and facebook messages for ten or fifteen minutes, just to be "sure" you're not missing anything important - and not getting anything accomplished at all.

Not that I speak from experience, or anything (sigh).

It's easy to get stuck in a "should-do" loop, and the only way to break the cycle is to make a decision. If it's a real priority, put it in your calendar and act on it appropriately. If you're not sure if it's a priority or not, try using the Eisenhower Matrix to help you get clarity. If it's not a priority, don't pretend like it is - even to appease your family or friends. In reality, you're doing a disservice to yourself and those well-meaning loved ones. Instead, set and enforce clear boundaries around your priorities and your time. And...

Be willing to accept the consequences of the priorities you set. (Tweet This)

Some people will balk at your new-found decisiveness. After all, you've been training them to give you all this well-meaning advice for a while now. It may take time to get them on board with this new direction. Your biggest fans, however, will understand that this is something you've got to do to take control of your calendar and start gaining momentum toward that Noble Empire and inspired life you're creating.

How do you take control of your calendar?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and let's be a rising tide fo everyone. If you're interested in learning more about The PEACE System, be sure to get on the wait list, as enrollment re-opens this fall.


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