Do you feel like there are too many things to do and too little time?
Do you feel overwhelmed about your personal and professional life?
You’re not alone. Millions feel this way.
We know it’s not good. We know that it doesn’t lead to success. But we do it anyway.
Maybe it’s because we’re hardwired to want abundance. Our ancestors, after all, had very little. They needed all they could get. But today we have abundance. We don’t need all that’s available. So we have to fight that urge to want more and more.
When it comes to the workweek, we often stuff just about all we can into it without much thought. Feeling busy makes us feel good…even if that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe it just makes us feel safe.
If you’re reading this, you’re interested in learning better prioritization. So you get the rights things done.
Here are a few of my tips.
1. Audit Your Current Workweek
Start by assessing what you’re doing now. You can probably sit down and map out what you think you do. Go through last week. Assess every hour. Then look deeper at the half hours. Then make it a point this week to really dive into the details. Every hour, set a reminder to look back and assess what you’ve just done with your time.
You’ll find some good things. You’re getting work done. But you’ll also find some surprises. You probably check social media a little too much. “Just checking” can be just 20 seconds. But that 20 seconds causes your mind to totally reset, which can be five minutes to get back on track. Now do that “just” a few times a day and you’re out an hour.
2. Assess Personal Life
Look at your life as it is now. Then consider what you want your personal life to include. You can’t include everything. But you likely have about two or three things that are important. It might be a hobby. It might be time with your spouse, friends and children.
Take the time to consider what is important. You can’t have it all, but you can have about three things in your personal life that you can really dive into.
This prioritization helps with your workweek priorities because you have guidance for your decisions. I remember my dad, during the years my brother and I were in team sports, made it a priority for himself to attend as many of our games as possible. This decision led him to do the best he could to make his workweek fit that priority. He even passed up promotions for it.
What’s the point of a promotion if it takes away from a priority?
3. Assess Work Life
Some of us never take the time to really consider what we want from our work. For the next year, the next five or even the next 20. We have vague ideas. Get promotions. Get in a certain industry. Work for a better company.
But we rarely think about specific career paths.
It’s important to think about what you want to accomplish. A sort of northstar, if you will. Something to shoot for. Both in the short-term and the long-term. When you have something guiding you it gives you something to base your decisions on.
That makes it easier to cut and add things to your schedule.
Does this call help me get to my career goal? If not, deny it.
4. Create Your Weekly Schedule
If you complete those first steps, you’ll have done a lot of work. It can take hours to consider all those things. But if you made it that far you are ready to create a new schedule.
Consider the work that is required. You probably don’t want to lose your job. You have critical things. Schedule those for important times during the week. Tuesday is often your most productive day, so strongly consider scheduling the highest priority task or tasks for that day.
Leave time for unplanned events. They will happen. You don’t always know exactly what, but you can guarantee they will occur. So why not plan for them?
5. Annual Audits
Creating a schedule one time is great. But it’s not enough. You can get into bad routines. You can “forget” what your priorities are after a few months. That’s why it’s good to schedule time to do this all again. To remember what’s important to you at work and at home. Then you can go back to your schedule and see if you’re really doing the things that put those priorities first.
Fulfillment at work is first understanding what’s important to you. At work and at home. They don’t have to be big things. Being home for baseball games is not necessarily a big thing. But it’s a priority. It’s something that can guide your decision making.
Going through this process will help you feel more fulfilled. Will you do it?