We have always been told “When you have many tasks to do, prioritize!” We dutifully write down everything we need to do, making a daunting list that we look at wondering “How am I going to get all this done?” It happens with our home life as well as work. With everyone working long hours, the home list can often be worse than the work one. Priorities? Everything is important! But with a few tricks, we can learn what’s most important.
When asking yourself what’s most important, it can be differ if others are involved. At work, it’s usually your boss or manager who will guide you to what’s most urgent. At home, we are more our own boss, although others may be involved as well. But the most important thing to do here is to TALK to them. Sometimes, especially at work, tasks can be rescheduled. Converse with co-workers and ask them when they need you. Make sure to check your deadlines. Same goes for family and friends! Ask for help! Others may not be as busy as you are and can offer you relief.
Look at home tasks with a three-pronged approach: cost, time, and scope. Often with home tasks we must get down to “How much is my time worth?” With Thanksgiving this week, I suggested having a professional clean your house. It may seem extravagant to some but when thinking “What is my time (and sanity) worth?”, it’s a no brainer. Many home projects can be done quicker and better by professionals. A professional painter can paint a room in half the time you could- with five less trips to Home Depot. Time is sometimes not in your control, there are deadlines. Work backwards from the deadline, setting each task according to the time needed. That will prioritize for you. If the scope of the job is just too much, you might need to compromise. Let people know what you can deliver now and when you can deliver the rest. This might also prompt others to say, “Can I help?”
Then learn to delegate. Many of us are guilty of thinking only we can do the job right. NOT! Be assertive asking for help and have proof of need when you state your case. Most times you will get help, but do be prepared to hear no sometimes.
If you feel the walls closing in, you really must take something off your plate. If you wait until you’re totally stressed out, it might be too late. You need to understand what you need to do and how long it will take. With this simple knowledge, priorities will show themselves to you.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO