Setting Priorites: What I Did

So yesterday I was talking about the difficulty of setting priorities when you have a lot of competing demands and some of the work may prove unnecessary in the long run, but if you don’t do it, you may starve and how this whole situation leads to dithering and spending time doing less important tasks instead of the work that matters.  Whew.  That was how my brain was working yesterday, spinning wheels.


The first thing I did was remind myself that I did not need to have complete and total commitment to anything I was doing.  I just needed to take a step.  Do one thing.  I took a deep breath and lumped my fourteen (or so) projects into rough categories: housekeeping, stuff that I know will pay off and stuff that I probably should do in case my Plan A falls through.  (Experts may say “failure is not an option” but these people are not living my life.  Betting everything on one roll of the dice is a great way to end up living on the streets with your kid.  Don’t ask me how I know this.)


Once I had made these simple categories, my brain (and energy) kicked into gear.  I spent an hour on the housekeeping stuff without which my work and personal life will grind to a complete halt, then dug into the top item on my “I know this will pay off” list.  I spent three or four hours on that.  Then I spent an hour on the “stuff that I probably should do,” spending about twenty minutes on a couple of different projects.  When I was done, I felt very satisfied because I’d made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts. 


Another effective strategy I’ve done in the past when I start dithering about what to do next is to just seize the thing that’s in front of me, set a timer for fifteen minutes, and make some progress.  Usually that clears my mind enough to help me see what really needs to be done next.


What do you do?