How did Superman do it? He could save the world in a day and be home by dinnertime. In comparison, we get overwhelmed easily with much smaller tasks. The common notion that busy is better, often leads to long hours, late nights, and the feeling that there are never enough hours in the day. The truth is, this is often the result of difficulty setting priorities. Thus, on a list of 20 tasks, each task is as important as another and each one demands to be done first and finished today. This perception of one’s demands simply isn’t realistic and it creates a great deal of stress.
One way to bring order to our lives is to determine and act according to which task is most important, keeping in mind the length of time required to complete the task while also considering what is at stake. Only with this information at hand can we make wise choices and begin to assign priorities to the list of things we have to do.
What happens if completing the list of tasks in a timely manner is simply not possible? Again, we have to make choices: Do we delegate some or all of the responsibility? Do we decide that certain tasks simply aren’t going to stay on our list? Or do we simplify by combining one task with another and treating them as one?
Occasionally, a client who is already at capacity tells me their supervisor, seemingly oblivious to the overload, comes along and assigns more work with a short deadline. At a time like this I may ask the client, “What do you think would happen if you were to say, ‘I’ll be glad to work on this project if you’ll tell me which of my other assignments I should set aside.’” Sometimes they risk it. Sometimes they don’t, but it is a choice to consider. None of us can do the impossible.
Victoria Moran writes in Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty, “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
For a template to help you set your daily priorities, click the link to download my Priorities Template.
© Judy DeLapa April 2013