Living life is a juggling act. The day has always got so much ‘stuff’ that needs doing… So many things on a to do list… People vying for your attention… Countless little jobs that are left unfinished from the day or month or year (!) before.  That’s when having a system for prioritizing can help tremendously.

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably already been introduced to inbox, time, people and energy management as examples of just some things that can be used to tame the things we ‘have to do’.

And that’s where I’d like to come in. After a severe bout of overwhelm for one of my clients, we sat back and looked at what would most help her.  Throwing the latest model and explaining how something worked would only add to the confusion and frustration. I needed something simple. Something that we could use in the moment to clear her mind and help her take some kind of action. Because when we take action, we feel good. We feel we are taming the beast that has us. We can celebrate a job well done (or the very least a job done!).

3 Filters to Use for Prioritizing

What we came up with, which I’ve been using since, was this filtering system for prioritizing tasks:

  • Right Now Jobs
  • Later Jobs
  • Not At All Jobs

We looked at everything on the to do list and simply put them into these three categories – right now, later, and not at all.  We were doing this with the list of post-it’s and scraps of paper, leaving us with three neat piles. It left us with some form of order – and we humans love a little order – and her with a sense of being able to tackle the first pile of Right Now’s.

The GREAT thing about this is that you get to determine what ‘Right Now’ and ‘Later’ actually mean.  On the day of the ‘great sort’ as we dubbed it, Right Now meant by the end of the week. Later meant next week or two. Not at all jobs went in the bin (with the logic that if they came back, they would be reshuffled in), but most of them as we went through them were idealistic, wishful thinking that she’d never actually get round to that actually added to the frustration and sense of incompetence.

14 actions later (some small, some big) and her week was ‘managed’ by a system that still to this day suits her and means she gets more done that she feels happy with.   Some days, Right Now means in the next hour. Sometimes it means by the end of the day.  You get to decide. That is part of the magic of this. Go on, give it a go. All you need to do is decide – what does Right Now, Later and Not At All actually mean to you and you can start prioritizing.

(For those of you that are freaking out, NAA means put it in the Some Day, Maybe file).

Helena Holrick

Coach, Trainer, Author and Personal Development Guide Helena has worked in private and public organisations, training 1000s of people to become their best selves in some way or other. For a number of years, she opened Restaurants for TGI Friday’s. Giving that up for the world of video conferencing and then joining London Fire Brigade, she eventually started her own company where she now gets to personally and professionally guide speakers, authors, tree-shakers, and change-makers to grow their visions and their businesses beyond anything they imagined. With a solid love of learning, teaching, and writing, she now spends her time running workshops and holding space for people to progress at their pace, encouraging them to get brave and get going with a blend of love and kicking butt.

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