Power Skills Work+Life Balance

How Do You Prioritize Your Day? 4 Tips for Prioritizing Your Workload When Everything Is Important.

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How Do You Prioritize Your Day? 4 Tips for Prioritizing Your Workload When Everything Is Important.

Sarah Mae (SMae) |
How Do You Prioritize Your Day? 4 Tips for Prioritizing Your Workload When Everything Is Important.

How Do You Prioritize Your Day? When everything seems important, it’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to decide what to do next. How do you know which priorities deserve your time? Is it the ones screaming at you the loudest? Or is there a better way?

There is, so today I’m sharing 4 strategies I use to balance my workload.

How Do You Prioritize Your Day?

4 Tips for Prioritizing Your Workload When Everything Is Important.

1) Begin With the End In Mind

Prioritizing your workload when everything is important first and foremost means understanding that, while it may feel like it, not everything is actually equally important. So how do you distinguish what actually deserves your time?

When I was teaching high school it was really easy to get bogged down with curriculum content during lesson planning and lose sight of the skills being taught. To overcome this I’d plan my lessons using “Backwards Design”, where I would begin with the end in mind, i.e. what I wanted my students to learn.

This also happens to be one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and one of my most important strategies for prioritizing tasks.

To do this you need to have a main overarching “end” goal. This is the one thing that you can aim for that everything else will align to – work and life.

Understanding the difference between means goals and end goals is the key to achieving this. Very often the two types of goals get mixed up. An end goal is something that brings you fulfilment, means goals are the steps you need to take to get you to the end goal. When we focus only on the specifics of how to get something rather than the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, we can get confused about what to prioritize.

My end “North Star” goal is to retire my husband & take care of my family. This goal drives all my decision-making. Whatever will put me closer to this goal takes priority.

What is your North Star goal? Once you’ve defined yours, use it to make all your future decisions and you’ll intuitively know what “means goals” to prioritize.

2) Focus Mapping

With my North Star goal in mind, I map out what to focus on throughout the year by setting means goals at yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily intervals.

In the graphic below, you’ll notice that I refer to quarterly goals as plans, weekly goals as “weekly commitments”, and daily goals as “daily non-negotiables”. This language is more tangible, which is a powerful way to help ensure you follow through.

How Do You Prioritize Your Day? 4 Tips for Prioritizing Your Workload When Everything Is Important (Focus Map)

Most importantly, as an entrepreneur you must remember that you cannot just plan your business, you need to balance this with life plans as well.

To ensure you maintain work+life balance, try to set goals around all the different categories of your life or life paths, as I like to call them. The 11 Life Paths that my clients focus on are (1) Health & Longevity, (2) Intellectual & Creative Life, (3) Emotional Life, (4) Your Identity, (5) Spiritual Life, (6) Love Life, (7) Social Life, (8) Community, Mentorship, & Parenting, (9) Financial Life, (10) Career Life, and (11) Quality of Life.

The 11 Life Paths are equally important. You cannot run a successful business if you are unhealthy and tired all the time!

3) Plan Ahead Using the Sharpie Rule

How many unused agendas do you have lying around the house? They always start with the best intentions and then trickle off, don’t they? It’s human nature! We’re wired to take the path of least resistance, which means not having to schedule things and/or do things at a certain time.

The problem with that is, if you don’t plan ahead you’re just going to be reacting to whatever is going on around you. Planning deliberately ahead of time allows you to decide how you want to spend your life rather than letting life decide for you.

The best way to plan ahead is to make a list of all the things that you’ll get done in the day. You can do this at the end of the previous workday, or first thing in the morning before your day starts. Next, take those things and plug them into your schedule. The key here is that this schedule is written in sharpie, which means you cannot change it. So be very deliberate with when you schedule tasks for.

See, throughout the day your brain will get clever and try to justify or make excuses for why you should change the schedule. You may want to move something to after lunch that you had at ten, but do not fall into this trap. Following the Sharpie Rule builds trust with yourself that you can schedule anything and know that you will complete it when you say you will. There is so much freedom in this knowledge.

So you want to be really deliberate with your planning. Anything that does not fit, ask yourself if you really want to do it? Is it in alignment with your North Star Goal? If yes, remember it for the next day, if not cross it off the list –Yay! Done!

4) Schedule Overflow Time

The biggest question I get asked when it comes to planning ahead and sticking to the Sharpie Rule is, what about emergencies?!?

Here’s the thing, most of the things we think are emergencies are not really emergencies. An emergency is defined as, “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” So unless you are facing danger, there is no emergency.

Yet, inevitably, things will come up during the day that you did not plan for. This is why it’s important to schedule overflow time each day to complete unfinished business. For me, this looks like setting apart one hour at the end of my day so that when the unexpected comes, I have already planned for it and I am not tempted to deviate from the Sharpie Rule.

The Bottom Line

How do you prioritize your day? If you’re like most, you react to whatever is going on around you and is screaming at you the loudest. This is super unproductive.

Prioritizing your workload when everything is important involves having a North Star Goal that you can weigh all your decisions against, creating a Focus Map to organize your work & life means goals, planning ahead with the Sharpie Rule, and making sure you plan for the unexpected.

My signature program, Busy to Balanced, is a 90 day 1-1 coaching program that helps entrepreneurs swap “Busy” for Balanced, so they can have a successful biz AND a life outside of work. Read more about it and schedule a 30min Clarity Call HERE.

Rise With SMae

P.S. Are we connected on Instagram? No? Well new friend, let’s fix that now! Come hang out on my favourite social media platform. Follow for inspiration and send me a DM to let me know we’re connected.



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