Prioritizing the Important Things

The ensuing end-of-year personal inward reflection period is coming up quickly, so I wanted to get to mine now so I could focus on the rest of the holiday’s demands. I’m not typically this far ahead on getting things done, although I used to be and took great pride in being organized. So….what happened? Why am I always falling behind despite working seemingly non-stop?

Well, if you looked at my schedule you’d see that I’ve spread myself out pretty thin over several disparate undertakings. Consider: I teach high school full time; I’m an adjunct professor at a community college and a 4-year university; I schedule classes and instructors at the community college; I’m taking graduate classes at the university to finish my teaching certificate and M.Ed.; I manage an online shopping portal; I run an internet marketing business (selling and maintaining websites, mobile phone apps, publications, etc.); I’m training for the 2017 PA and DE Senior Olympics (Uuugh, I’m THAT Old!) in powerlifting, and I’m trying to see my grandchildren as much as I can. Most weekdays I spend time on at least three of these things, and the weekends are jammed with even more.

In order to get anything accomplished I must prioritize the important things. And what’s important? Everything! What comes first? The thing that’s due the soonest! Basically I’m living a real-life Jenga game. Miss one deadline, and the rest come tumbling down. I’ve actually adopted Molly Hatchet’s “Flirting With Disaster” as my theme song and cell phone ring tone. So how do I change this? How do I take control of my life so that I feel a sense of accomplishment and have time to do “fun” things?

The first thing is to build a work life around my own schedule. Being completely self-employed with a non-traditional business (one that isn’t brick and mortar; one that doesn’t have to be open/closed on any given day) would be ideal. And I’m working towards that. But until then I am beholding to others’ schedules. There’s not much I can do about the high school schedule, and ti’s the same for taking and teaching classes at the university. But the rest is up to me.

To be effective at this I need to plan ahead. I work on a quarterly schedule (with 3- and 6-month goals), and write down what’s due and when. For instance I know, right now, that my Tuesdays are filled through 2017 (except for June and July) teaching at the university, and that, basically, daytime hours (7:00am-3:00pm) are free July and August. I also want to keep alternating Wednesdays and the first Monday’s of the month free for marketing seminars. Now I have to prioritize the rest of my life around these time frames. Throughout my designated quarters I constantly monitor the schedule, and make changes where necessary to keep things on time. Without this written plan, however, there’s no way I could keep track of everything.

Now, I don’t believe my schedule is the norm, and I know a lot of people who struggle with their own life demands. But prioritizing projects within a manageable time frame can help everyone handle their schedule demands more efficiently.

About Author: jspaone

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