How to Prioritise When You Work for Yourself

S. Covey urgent importantHow do you prioritise what’s important on your To Do list, if you have lots of calls on your time today and every day?

I don’t think there’s one “right” answer to this. Personally I prioritise based on what’s important to me. And I try to keep life really, really simple. I’ve long since stopped trying to keep abreast of all the information in the world and learn every new thing which comes my way.  I know I know enough.

I’m a big fan of the Scan/Delete strategy with everything electronic and incoming. Firstly I scan it to see if it has anything important to offer me today. I mostly don’t file emails for ‘later’. I delete those I know I won’t get to today, or ever. I am ruthless in this regard knowing that if I am ever too rash, anything important will either come back or can easily be found again online in a heartbeat. I trust that implicitly. I have chosen that as my supportive belief. And so it is.

This system, if you want to call it that, was inspired by Mark Forster. I attended one of his workshops way back and I’ve read at least two of his books while he was en route to working out his optimum way to Get Everything Done 

I hesitate to offer you yet another resource, because I know you are a busy/overwhelmed person already, but you might also look at the distinctions made by Stephen Covey in First Things First and then in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This system is about deciding on whether an item is Important (do those) or just Urgent (some of which have to be done otherwise there are CONSEQUENCES). And to make your own agenda here, not be overly responsive to what others think of as urgent or important. You decide. Assume the power.

I realise that a lot less has to be done than perhaps I think. And even since Monday when I decided upon handling my email in a different way, something very strange has happened in that I have just received an lot fewer emails than “normal”, so perhaps it was just a question of setting the intention and saying (writing) it out loud?

Your urgent and my important are not the same and vice versa. What do you choose to make important? What do you want to be vital in your life and work? Mark Forster encouraged me to aim for doing one day’s work in a day. If you have more than you can get done in a day, it’s more than a day’s work. Having the hangover of dragging more and more things to do with you endlessly, is draining. It doesn’t help efficiency, quite the reverse…it promotes overwhelm and procrastination. It makes you feel bad and you can never pat yourself on the back for a good day’s work well done, which we all need for our self-esteem. Get some help!

Whilst I’m in this first week of my own self-directed Autumn “term”, I get to choose what’s I am going to make important between now and the end of the year, and always. And you have the same choices to make in your life too. That’s total freedom. That’s why we became self-employed.

By all means make use of the abundance of tools designed to help with getting stuff done but in the end I would advocate on erring on the side of less, not more.

Good luck, let me know how it goes and how I can help.

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