Some people may not realize that, even though I work from home and thus largely set my own schedule, I am still quite busy.
There are self-imposed deadlines to be met for getting articles posted online. There are also real deadlines from employers for doing edits and recording audiobooks. Another self-imposed deadline on my plate is all about recording and editing my now-weekly podcast.
There are other things that I am working to do on a daily basis. Getting in a walk and/or time at the gym, meditating, and various household chores that can’t be ignored.
All of these tasks need to be done. One of the best ways to figure out when and how is to prioritize them.
I know some people who are excellent multitaskers. They can do many things all at once, shifting from job to job and bit to bit. But, when it comes to prioritizing and ordering their tasks, they get completely lost.
Prioritizing tasks is a skill in-and-of-itself. While I don’t think myself to be an expert, I have some skill in this, which I would like to share with you here.
The key to prioritizing is to identify if the thing you need to do is immediate, can wait for a bit, or can be done whenever.
Things due immediately
This should be self-explanatory, and yet I know that it presents a challenge for many people. Perhaps it’s because identifying something as being due immediately can be more intimidating than motivating.
For a lot of people knowing that the thing is due and needs to be done right now is daunting. It also can be annoying because it means you may be unable to work at the pace you would most prefer to work at.
The audiobooks I record, when not my own, come with a specific deadline. I have ‘x’ number of days to get the job done and uploaded. That means I need to, in that time-frame, record and edit the book, then post it to ACX so that I can get paid for my work.
Most of the time the deadlines I work under are completely reasonable. But sometimes the book is more complex than not, and it gets difficult to do the work, even though I love doing it.
Yet still, a due date is a due date. This is a set paycheck, so it should and must be my first priority.
One of the issues with something being due immediately is that, often, you have had the deadline set by another. Having that control taken from you can be irksome, and as such can be a cause of resistance.
Yet you need to be mindful, and not let yourself get distracted, feel negative feelings, and your intentional action needs to go to getting the work done to meet the deadline and complete it immediately.
Things that can wait for a bit
There is, for me, a grey area between what is due as a matter of outside need, and what I do for myself.
A perfect example is happening as I write this. I have a self-imposed deadline to get this article out this afternoon. I am accountable to nobody but me (and technically you, as my reader).
Additionally, I have laundry to fold and put away, a podcast to record to put up tomorrow, and I am working on another audiobook that is due (but not until a few days from now, so it falls into the ‘things that can wait for a bit’ category.)
In what order do I do these? Well, because of the self-imposed deadlines I need to get this written and posted, and when I take a break between writing it and editing it I will fold my laundry.
Prior to this I recorded and edited my podcast for tomorrow. I’ll post it in the morning.
This comes down to choices. What needs to be done now, right now? What can I do when that is done, and what can I just do going along?
Things to be done whenever
When it comes to my works of fiction there is no deadline.
These pieces, whether sci-fi, fantasy, or Steampunk, aren’t on anyone’s timeline but my own. Also, as they are all ongoing works, I can take time to work on them whenever.
I also need to not neglect to get in exercise and meditation every day.
BUT, and this is the important part, all of these things can’t be neglected. They may be works that I don’t need to have done right now and activities with no specific timeframe for completion, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make time for them.
Just because they are not immediately important doesn’t lessen their importance to me. That’s an important aspect to recognize.
Another way to prioritize is to take everything you have and make a list. Then, you can create three categories:
These can be associated with whether the thing you need to do is immediate, can wait for a time or can be done whenever. They are also a potential alternative to how to prioritize your time and work.
Whatever you choose to do, prioritizing projects can make all the difference between being productive and/or wasting time. Like most things in life, the choice is yours.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter whatever your priorities may be.