There is a difference here between Tip 3 and Tip 5. Tip 3 is about creating a list. It’s an action plan and serves to declutter and defog your mind.
Tip 5 however, is to prioritise. You do need to create and review your list in order to prioritise it. I think you can (and some of us do) prioritise on the fly but it’s much better to have a concrete list somewhere from which to prioritise. You could do this in a notebook or on your phone. Otherwise, it gets foggy. But the main plan here with prioritising is… letting go.
I cannot stress enough the importance of realising that you simply cannot do it all. If you do decide to do it all, you only fail. You are at risk of losing your balance and your mental faculties. There is not enough time in the day to handle every single aspect you feel you must. And even if you could, should you? Is this how you really want to spend your days? Will you, when you look back on your life, years from now, feel that the actions you took in managing the minutiae of your life were really worth it?
Chances are, if you looked at your life and your choices with a different perspective (I was planning to leave that job and move to another town/ I didnt really care about that anyway/ It doesn’t matter to me, honestly, I dont know why I did that three months ago etc etc) you might find that so many of our choices are tied up with the emotion of the moment. It is this emotion that gets in the way of a proper look at what it is that we face.
If we can look at things in a detached way, it would be clearer what it is that we need to do. It’s not easy to remain detached or unemotional – people who say they do are lying – especially when there are things that concern you. But what you’re trying to do here is not gun for complete detachment. Rather, enough for you to step back and say, I’ve looked at this the right way. I’ve considered all the arguments. Keeping these thoughts front and centre help you, at that time.
When faced with big decisions or when clouded by stress, what you really need to do is to have a sit first and think. If you fail to do this, then some of the action you take may be three steps of a five step process when a complete rethink may mean scrapping all of the five steps and just doing one step of another completely different process. But you don’t arrive at that unless you stop. And think.
If you prioritise, it should be based on :-
- what you believe you need to spend your time on. You know the 80/20 rule – well, keep that in mind.
- the big picture. Ask yourself what of those things you know you absolutely need to do. What would happen if you didn’t do those things tomorrow? Could you afford to leave it for later or just not do it?
- a decision on what you need to let go. Be brave about it – let some of it go. Some of the smaller things are offshoots of the big issues you need to deal with anyway. So, choosing to focus on the big issues will necessarily take care of the smaller ones.
- it should be based on your fear factor. Yea, I got a hunch about this one. You know what I’m talking about. The stuff you really need to prioritise is the stuff that gets you scared and that you keep postponing. Maybe no one knows about it, but you do! That is a clear indication, in your gut, and in your head, that it is the stuff you need to deal with.
My time/effort/results rule
I read something about this by Stephen Covey when he discussed time management but this rule – I just coined up now. There’s stuff you could spend hours/days on and get x result. Time spent = good work. But is it? Then, there’s stuff you can do that takes a lot of effort and this makes you feel like you’ve really done the good deed because you’ve sweated and pored over it. But have you? That’s the effort factor. What you really need to be brave about is the result factor – what have you got? Did you solve it? Did the problem go away? If the answer is no, then all the time went to waste. You shouldn’t be relieved because you’ve spent the effort, you should be upset because you didnt get the result.
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud effort. I applaud getting up and trying, failing and trying again. But that’s not what I am talking about here. What I am referring to here is when we busy ourselves with stuff and con ourselves into thinking we’ve done the work because of this stuff. This external stuff. What I mean here is when we believe our own lies about the effort we’ve put in… when we settle for the effort taken rather than the results gained.
So, what shall you prioritise tomorrow?
Tip #1. Slow down
Tip #2. Accept what you’re faced with
Tip #3. Create a list. Then make a plan.
Tip #4. Take some time off
Tip #6. Realise what to be grateful for
Tip #8. Do the work
Tip #10. The knowing-doing gap