5 tips to prioritise your life when youre busy busy

In this week’s Suger News {hint hint, subscribe above} I was talking about busy, being busy and being too busy for the important things. Last week this was at the top of my mind because life was mad. I expect a lot from myself and consider everything possible until I decide otherwise. Too often I feel like being busy can be one of those things that you hide behind. The thought you had that stops you working out how to make it work. An excuse when it boils down to it.

How do you go about prioritising when life is busy? How do you kick those excuses to the kerb and continue to fit in everything you want in life without the overwhelm. Without the panic and the forgetting of things. How do you even decide where to start? I have a few ideas on the subject, learnt for years of experience of being busy. They work for me, so I’m giving them to you. You’re welcome.

1. Work out your number one

In my life; there are a few priorities I like to keep at the top of my list. When given the opportunity I choose these people and things first. That’s my first tip, know what’s important to you before all other things. Just as you would drop everything to be at your injured child’s side you need to know what your number one priorities are.

For me it’s Mr Suger, family, people I love, my health and happiness. I’m going to say no particular order, but let’s face it, some things come before others naturally and others will depend on the circumstance. Know yours. Have them front of mind as we work through the rest of the challenges.

2. Know what there is to deal with

You can’t prioritise until you know what there is to do. Get clear on what everyone’s requests and expectations are. Know what aims, dreams and plans you have for yourself and what it will take for them to come true. If you’re doing this for the first time make a massive list. For the week ahead, let’s keep it manageable, write down everything you need to do, would like to do, should probably do and have to do.

Wondering about where I said people’s expectations? Let me give you an example. This week is my sister’s birthday. No one had said that there was to be a dinner or anything last week, but I already had it on my list because it happens for everyone’s birthdays. There is an expectation that our family gets together for these occasions. To not allow for it in my planning would be a mistake and something I had to squish in later.

3. Urgent, important, neither or both?

It’s one of those tips that every time management type person spruiks in every post about the subject since the beginning of time. They say it because it’s true. You need to work out what is important to you, or what’s urgent and what’s both those things or neither. You need to do this so that you can tell what needs to be done today and what can be shuffled a little.

If there are things on the list that are neither, then you’ve classified them wrong or they are on your list because it turns out you weren’t as busy as you thought you were. Remove them and feel the weight lifting. Sometimes the feeling of being busy is just because you keep remembering things you forgot to do when it was too late. Keep a running list if that helps you keep clear about these things. I find a whiteboard or blackboard the best. Whiteboard marker on your windows or mirrors works too.

The important AND urgent things are the ones you need to do first. The urgent ones are probably things that are past deadline or in need of attention from being pushed aside too long, deal with them next and wipe your slate clean. The important things are those that mean something to you, will make a difference to your life but don’t necessarily have a deadline. Find a balance between getting the two done. You’ll be happier for it.

My hot tip: Anything involving your top priorities are important and urgent most of the time. I always rank them first and fit them in when and where I can. You should too. Keep in mind that quality time with the family might not need to be an entire weekend but a day that consists of all your attention not half of it.

4. Be a tight ass with your time

A lot of people waste a lot of time. If you are prioritizing to fit more into your busy schedule then you need to get firm about how time-wasters. Even if just in your head. Your aim is to have more time for the things that are important to you, right? Stealing some minutes or even hours back from your busy’ness will help with that.

Have a time limit in mind for activities, conversations or appointments and stick to them. Be frugal with your time when you can be to allow more when it’s really needed. Use an email to confirm appointments rather than a phone call, have coffee with friends instead of long lunches, schedule a day trip instead of weekend visit. Things like that. You’ll be surprised how much time starts to free up when you know what you want to give the majority of your time to and get serious on the time wasters.

The more you do this, the more you might find some spare time here or there. The busy starts to fade a little and everything is a little more manageable. Well, until it isn’t again. When you prioritize how you spend your time, with whom and for how long, then you start to gain some control over what there is to be done.

5. Hold firm to your priorities

When all is said and done, when the lists are made and the things to do are sorted into something resembling an order, there is one more thing to do… You must, must, remember what your priorities are by taking a moment to think. When there are lots of things to do the only guiding light you need is what matters to you most. Finding it hard to choose, or you’ve run out of time for the day, go with what matters most, first. Sometimes it’s family… And sometimes family has to wait while you pay the electricity bill.

Do you have a tip for prioritising when things get busy? I used to be more of a run around screaming kinda girl… But you live and learn, right?  

Chief Blogger at Suger Coat It; An Australian lifestyle blog for women who work for themselves. Melissa is a social media consultant & lover of stripes. Most weekends you’ll find her at the beach or home on the veranda kicking back. Around here, they call her Suger. Feel free to do the same.