Everything Is Not Important
Many of us start our week with extensive to do lists.
We’re eager to conquer our goals and achieve our dreams. Or even just to try and maintain our sanity by staying organised.
Sometimes these to do lists are even fuelled by the current societal obsession with being busy. It’s almost like if you’re not “booked and busy” then you have no value. If you’re not seen to be pulling in the results, then you’re not worth paying attention to. So in an attempt to fit this mould, we often jam pack notebooks and planners with extensive lists or even chalkboards with 101 tasks.
Yet at times it seems that the list doesn’t budge or decrease in size. The next week comes and we seem to be just as busy as we were in the previous week.
Or we accomplish things but feel completely burnt out and unable to function in any other area of our lives.
The truth is, this is usually down to a lack of prioritisation.
We fail to realise that everything is not important. Each item on the list seems to be treated with the same level of urgency as the next.
This is simply not sustainable.
Furthermore, what can often happen is that the things that are important can get less attention than they deserve because we lack the ability to prioritise.
Prioritisation is described as “the action or process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of a thing or things”.
It simply isn’t enough to brain dump the things that we are responsible over on to a piece of paper, we must be able to decide where they sit in the order of importance.
Doing this allows us to manage our energy appropriately and effectively.
If you are able to decide what is number one on the list, you can then decide to push your energy in that direction.
The Bigger Picture
Even beyond things on a micro level, e.g. weekly lists, prioritisation comes in handy on a macro level. For example, when you are able to look at the big picture for the year you can allocate the time and resources needed for the things that are the most important. It doesn’t mean that the other things need to get neglected, but instead you are aware of what takes priority.
It also helps you in being able to be content and not covet what others have because you’re aware that what you currently have, or are currently focused on is a reflection of your priorities.
For example, when managing your budget, if you decide that clearing the short-term debt you have is the priority, you are able to allocate the funds necessary to do that on a monthly basis. So then prioritisation within the big picture affects the small decisions you make on a daily and monthly basis.
The nights out might be alluring to you, but because you have decided what is important and what isn’t, you are able to say no when you need to or choose to have them less frequently. However if you hadn’t taken the time out to decide what the priorities are for your money, everything becomes as important as the other, robbing you of the chance to make headway on what you really want to accomplish.
The same can be said for prioritising certain relationships during certain seasons of life. Once again, this doesn’t mean that others get neglected but rather that you have taken the time out to decide what needs to come first or receive the ultimate attention.
Prioritisation helps us with managing what we have well, e.g. our time, energy and resources.
It also helps us with creating and enforcing boundaries, because these are no longer there for the sake of it but now they serve the purpose of helping us get to what’s important.
How it’s worked for me…
Last year, this came in incredibly handy for me whilst I was working on launching Marbie’s Kitchen. I decided that it was important to me and decided to focus my attention, energy and time on it. I swapped some Netflix shows to buy back time for writing blog posts and mapping out my website. I decided to use my lunchtime to brainstorm ideas and even spent some Saturdays indoors working on content. My finances also reflected the fact that this was a priority for me.
The problem for many of us has been that we simply haven’t recognised the importance of prioritisation.
Also, sometimes it’s that we haven’t allocated enough time towards prioritising. It won’t be done for you – you actually need to take time out to do this. On a macro level, you need to sit and look at what needs to take priority in the big picture. And on a micro level, you need to be able to do the same.
You can simply ask yourself, “does this need to get done right now?” or “what will be the effect or outcome on other areas if this task isn’t completed?”…
Assess the value and importance of each thing on your list.
A New Method
Instead of chucking a lengthy to do list in your notebook this week, why not try this new system I’ve adopted?
You write your list down of things to do, then beside each item, place a number that reflects its importance or when it has to get done. For example, if there are 10 things on the list, pick which one needs to be number 1 and then number 2 and 3 and so on and so forth.
This way, the things on your list don’t get completed based on whether you wrote them down first, but rather what actually has to get done by a certain time or what is the most challenging thing to do. Because we often do what feels easiest for us or what allows us to avoid the most difficult thing to do.
Of course after prioritisation, you’ll actually have to put in the work and effort to achieve those things on your list – this is where discipline comes in, but that’s a topic for another day! Choosing to prioritise is simply the first step you need to take on the journey.
Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on you by yourself or others, or like there is too much to do, simply say to yourself “everything is not important!”