Everyone knows that setting priorities is a necessary skill to manage stress, but deciding which priorities to tend to when everything feels important can bring more stress. Instead of succombing to procrastination or anxiety, try these five steps to determine what really matters to you in your life in order to get the ball rolling now:
1. Make a list
Write down every goal you want to accomplish. Think about long-term goals as well as short-term goals. Include goals from every aspect of life including education, work, family, and social goals.
2. Assess the value of each goal on your list
This step requires an understanding of the big picture. Discern what is most valuable by thinking about the end result of each goal. Start with long-term goals first and rate each goal based on the value you associate with completing each goal.
3. Work backwards
Start with the number one goal on your list. Determine the steps it will take to meet that goal. Be sure to consider every nitty gritty step along the journey to the end result. For example, if the goal is to complete an important project, did you include time to revise or edit the project? Did you schedule time to review the project with someone else? If your list of steps does not include adequate sleep and nutrition, be sure to include those as well.
4. Review your list and goals with people who matter
Share your list with the people who know you best. It is harder to complete goals when there is no accountability. Informing others not only establishes accountability, but also brings clarity to any misplaced priorities that may have snuck their way onto your list.
5. Put it on a calendar
Now that you’ve got your list of steps to achieve the goals that you value most, write those steps down in a planner. Give yourself reasonable timeframes to complete each step and enough time in between each step to account for any unexpected steps that may present themselves. And, of course, for every step you complete, find time to celebrate!
Learning to rank the priorities that are most valuable to you will not only help you make it to the finish line, but ensure that when you cross that finish line, you will do so with a victory dance instead of slumping over from exhaustion.