Fitting It All In

I received an email from someone who has all sorts of family and friend obligations lined up this summer.

She has the summer off. But like many teachers and people with summers off she ends up wanting to do all the projects put off during the school year.

So with all the projects and obligations, how do does she prioritize and focus on a daily plan?

  1. Project List. The first thing I would suggest is to list all the projects and obligations, plus the deadlines on one sheet of paper. Many times we have ideas of things we want to do, but don’t categorize them as projects. So packing for a vacation becomes one overwhelming task.
  2. Weekly Planning. Next happens during weekly planning. Pick the top 3 most important/urgent projects to work on during the upcoming week. Write down the next actions for these project to take on a weekly list. These need to be small like 15 min home office paperwork, list what we need for vacation, call to check on daughter.
  3. Daily Planning. Besides your routine tasks, pick 3 things you need to do that day. If those get completed, you can choose 3 more off your weekly list. Don’t know which to choose? Going with the gut is usually a good choice. Breathe a few breaths, then look over the list and see which stands out to you the most. You have to breathe first to relax or it’s more difficult to read signals. And people first is always a good indicator.

When you have lots of projects going at once it can be easy to flit from task to task without finishing things. So set a timer to keep yourself on track. Try to complete each task fully before moving on to the next task. (Notice I said task, not project. Projects rarely get done in one sitting, so keep breaking them down until you have little resistance to the task.)

And most importantly, while you are working on one project, get the rest of your projects off your mind. If you are spending all your time worrying about a different project, the current project won’t get the focus it needs. If you think of an action step for another project, write it down on the weekly list so you can re-focus on your current project.