Don’t make time; set priorities

I've been working on changing my time management mindset from time-based to priority-based. Here's what that means to me.

We love to say we don’t have time for things. If you’re like me there’s even this guilty pleasure in feeling busy — we’re needed in so many places by so many people we can’t possibly make the time to do other important things.

I’ve been working to change the way I describe how I do things. I avoid saying “I’m too busy” at all costs, and instead say “That’s not a high priority at the moment.”

This is the most truthful thing I can say about things that I’m not going to do. It really, literally is not about time. It’s about priority. Because truly, if something urgent came up, I can stop doing other things and focus on that new urgent thing. Why? Because I’d consider it a high and urgent priority.

Deciding what I work on by priorities instead of time also does several important things:

  1. Helps me focus on what I feel are the most important things I should be doing
  2. If the request comes from another person, it tells them that their request might get attention if they can show me why it should be a priority, not just something I cram into my day.
  3. Reminds me that time is an asset I have and need to value highly.

With a priority mindset, I also schedule my days differently. I want to do the most important things first, the things that need my best mental energy. Why? Because it’s a priority, and I want to give priority items high focus and attention, not just rush to finish them at 4pm on Friday.

When I thought of my list of items in terms of “time”, I would rush to do more things and end up coming home later than I planned or wanted to. But when I think of all my items as priorities, and set out to do the things that are most important, and when I’ve got several most important things done, I’m free to use my time in other ways — being creative, writing, researching. There will certainly be more priority things to do tomorrow, but I want to give them by best attention (remember?), so they’ll get done the best if I’m fresh in the morning.

I’m just on the path with this priority mindset, but I see the benefits regularly. I just keep reminding myself:

Don't say "I don't have time." Set priorities, instead. Click To Tweet

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