How to Prioritize When Everything Feels Like a Priority!

You know that overwhelmed feeling you get when there’s just so much to do and everything feels like it’s got to get done NOW?!?

And so you do nothing because you’re paralyzed by indecision.

Or you end up working on busy stuff but not really getting anything of importance done.

It’s a problem that everyone faces at some time or another.

Trying to figure out which tasks need to be done and in what order can be challenging, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

And while it is challenging to skillfully juggle multiple priorities and competing responsibilities, it’s not impossible.

Here are a few things you can do to release yourself from this paralysis, make logical decisions about your tasks and start being the productivity machine you know you’re capable of being …

Plan ahead
Get some distance from your tasks by planning the day before. When you’re in the midst of prioritizing paralysis you can’t see clearly enough to make rational decisions about what really is the next priority.

Change your mindset
Is everything reeeeealllly a priority? If everything is important, nothing is important. Your ability to prioritize depends on your coming to terms with the idea that not everything is your #1 priority.

Ask yourself big picture questions
Try asking yourself these questions next time you’re staring at your list and deciding how to best invest your time. These questions will put your tasks in a larger context and help you determine which one truly is your highest priority:

  • What would I delegate, delay, or get rid of completely if I got sick and had to go home right now?
  • What would I delegate, delay or get rid of completely if I was getting on a plane in 2 hours?
  • Which tasks have the most consequences? The least?
  • Which tasks have stretchable deadlines?
  • Which tasks are both urgent AND important?

Thanks to Julie Gray for these questions.

Who’s priority is it?
Sometimes, the feeling of ‘everything must get done NOW!’ is a result of taking on someone else’s emergency as your own. Commit to your own stuff before you commit to others in order to manage your limited time and energy. And if you don’t feel as if you have the option to say no, at least ask a few questions for clarity …

  • Is it urgent or a priority?
  • When do they expect it to be completed and is there any leeway on that deadline?
  • What is their expectation in terms of thoroughness and quality? Are they OK with a quick and dirty first pass, or do they want high-quality thoughtful work?

Doing any one of these tips will ensure that that paralyzing feeling you’ve been experiencing will be gone and you’ll be well on your way to getting important stuff done.

Prioritize your tasks. Get stuff done.

Now, get on with your day!

About Georgina Forrest

Georgina Forrest is a Productivity Coach & Organizing Specialist at Smartworks! Enterprises Inc. in Red Deer, Alberta. Her credentials include Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®), Organizer Coach, and membership with Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) where she has attained Gold Leaf status – a designation acknowledging her as an experienced professional organizer. Her specialties are geared toward increasing productivity, streamlining administration and decreasing stress in the workplace. She will teach you how to manage your time, space and information so you can be more effective and efficient at work. Additionally she offers training programs, productivity coaching and time management-related presentations.