How to Prioritize Projects and Live Smarter

time management Jun 11, 2020

You pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee and head into the office.  It’s Monday morning and you have a to-do list that could take you into next month to complete.  Plus, take Parker to the dentist today at 3 pm.  Taking a deep breath, you turn your attention to your computer and start checking email.  

Now it’s 11 am and you haven’t checked a single thing off your list.  

There’s got to be a better way.  And there is... it’s called prioritizing.  

Before you click away, hear me out.  Has anyone taught you how to prioritize?


“Productivity is moving the ball down the filed on the projects that matter most.” Mel Robbins

Let’s try going through that Monday morning routine again.  Instead of brushing aside your extensive list of tasks, you take time to plan.  Look at your calendar and the blocks of time you have available to cross things off the list.

Starting out your week with a strategy session for how you’ll spend your time will pay off BIG TIME. Protect those time blocks like it’s your mom’s secret baked bean recipe handed down with a code of silence generation after generation.  It’s all yours and you don’t need to share.

I like to get my planning session done on Sunday so I can jump into Monday ready to go.  The biggest challenge is that I get sucked into the details of planning.  Next thing I know I look at the clock and my entire Sunday morning has vanished.  

Don’t do that, Sundays are precious.  Set timers and push yourself to make this planning session short.  Trust me, I’m working on it too.


“Sorry I didn’t respond to the work email you sent me while I was out living my life.”

Beware of the email monster!  Do you start your day focusing on someone else’s priorities?  When you pushed aside your to-do list to start your day with emails, you put someone else’s priorities first.  

Remember that email survey from your son’s school?  How long did you spend on that this morning?

I think I’m safe to assume that the school bus route for next Fall was not on the top of your list when you sat down at your desk this morning.

This isn’t permission to ignore your email all together... although a world without email sounds nice.  Don’t make it the first thing you do each day.  Unless your mind is mush when you sit down at your desk and you need something mindless to ease you into the day.

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” Greg McKeown

By now I hope you’ve chosen to start your week with a quick planning session.  Perfect, let’s get started.

First, look at your calendar.  Are there unimportant commitments you can cancel?

Next, look at that task list.  You will need to sort your list into four categories:

  1. Urgent and important (get these things done ASAP)
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule for later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (delegate this)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (cross these off your list right now)

I know this is old news, but here’s a twist.  A trick to getting through the matrix is don’t skimp on sleep.  Remember the last time you stayed out late celebrating a girlfriend's birthday?  Dragging the fam to your son’s early morning lacrosse game was a CHORE!  You couldn’t find his stick and arrived to a glare from the coach when you walked onto the field 10 minutes late.

Don’t bring that fuzzy unrested mind to your planning session.


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