We all struggle with prioritization from time to time. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we already know what’s more important and what needs to get finished today. We know what we need to do in order to meet our deadlines. And when we’re engaged in reaching our goals, we know what needs to be done next to push them along. We’re just not slowing down enough to listen.
If you want to consistently spend time in a committed and purposeful manner, consider adopting this new daily habit:
At the end of each day, review your tasks to make a plan for the next working day. Pick three-a frog, a dream and a wild card.
Start by identifying the biggest, most important task you need to complete-the frog. (There’s an old adage, if you have to eat a frog, don’t spend a lot of time looking at it first. And if you have to eat two of them, start with the ugliest.) Maybe it’s strategic work that requires focused think time, or perhaps it’s something you have a burning desire to procrastinate for untold emotional reasons. No matter, eating your largest, ugliest frog first will give you the boost to help the rest of the day seem lighter.
Next, pick a dream. The daily grind is rich with externally-driven tasks and rarely prompts you to insert assignments related to your personal, inwardly-driven goals. To move yourself toward your ambitions, consciously include taking one step toward your dreams. You’ll see, over time they will develop into reality.
Lastly, select one critical task of your choice-the wild card.
Put the three items you picked on top of your to do list. Will you accomplish more than three things the following day? Maybe, but no matter what else happens, you’ll focus on the three most important things first. (And you’ll sleep easier knowing what’s ahead of you the next day.)
It’s going to be tough, but stick to the plan you outlined. Eat the frog. Reach for the dream. But do not initiate other tasks before completing the three you selected. One easy way to make this practice a reality: don’t check your email until you’ve eaten the frog, legs and all.