how to prioritize

How to Prioritize

In this fast-paced world in which we live, we are all juggling multiple priorities on a daily basis. So, if you have multiple responsibilities, you can easily become overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to prioritize. Whether you’re young or old, if you have more than one thing to do, prioritization is key. So, today I thought I would give you some suggestions on how you can prioritize more effectively. 

The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is an excellent tool for helping to visualize the tasks that you need to do. Project managers frequently use this tool and it can be useful in daily life as well. First, list all the things that you need to do, then categorize them using the matrix shown below. 

UrgentNot Urgent
Not ImportantDelegateDelete

Let’s examine each quadrant in a bit more detail. If a task is important and urgent, you need to do it immediately. You should not delay this task. However, If a task is important but not urgent, it means that you can postpone it a bit. You still need to schedule some time to do it later. Conversely, an urgent but not important task needs to be addressed, but you don’t necessarily have to be the one to do it. So, see if you can find someone else who can take care of it. Finally, you can probably remove a task that is neither important nor urgent from your to-do list entirely. If you have limited time to do things, you don’t need to waste it doing things that are of little value.

You may be saying, “that’s all well and good, but what do I do if I have multiple things to do that are both important and urgent also”? Personally, I use an additional lens to prioritize things. Does the task impact health and safety? If so, it goes to the top of the list, otherwise, it goes lower on the list. 

Here is an example. A few years ago, as I drove down the road one day, the engine light came on. I checked the owner’s manual and it said take the car in to be checked. Not knowing what the issue was, I scheduled the earliest appointment that I could get. Upon arrival, the mechanic told me the engine light came on because an emissions sensor had stopped working. I was not prepared to pay for those repairs at that point in time. So, I asked the mechanic the following questions;

1. “Will the car leave me in the middle of the road somewhere”? He said “no”. 

2. “Will the car spontaneously combust”? Again, he said “no”.

3. “Can I safely drive this car with no consequences, if I choose not to do this repair now”? He said “yes”. 

That was all I needed to know. I said “thank you”, took my keys and drove away. I drove that car for 6 months with the engine light on and there were no issues. Ultimately, this repair was important but not urgent. So, I finally had the repairs done when the car was due to be emissions tested prior to registration.


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