One of the most important skills that you need to learn in organising your time, in organising your life, is learning how to get your priorities in the right order and we are going to discus this in this blog post.
Now, there is a great tendency when you are an entrepreneur to give equal weight to every task that you have to do. And quite often, especially when you are just starting out, you find that you have a lot of different tasks to perform. You have all sorts of things in your home life and in your business.
In your home life, you may have to do things like cooking, cleaning, home maintenance and other things, such as being a taxi for your kids, taking them everywhere they want to go.
At work you may have maintain your websites, deal with clients, create products and/or provide a service. You are going to have to handle correspondence, emails, phone calls, letters and so on. You have to keep up with the accounts and paying the bills, and it can be very difficult to fit it all in.
So, you have to accept that, when you run your own business as an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything. There are only 24 hours in a day and you just can’t do everything that needs to be done. It’s simply not physically possible. Ironically, the more you do, the more things you find to do and if you give each of them equal weight, then you will be creating problems for yourself.
The Art of Setting Priorities
So, you have to learn to set your priorities. You can’t give everything equal weight and you have to accept that some tasks are more important than others. What you have to do is learn how to rank tasks in order of importance, as follows:
Top priority are the tasks that you MUST do, come hell or high water. It could be something at work, like visiting an important client or in your home life, such as paying a priority bill like your mortgage.
Next are the things that you should do. There are the tasks that you are going to try your darnedest to do but you cannot guarantee that you will get to do them because they do not have as high a priority as the things that you must do.
And then there are the things that you could do if there is time, but it’s no big deal if you don’t do them.
And then there is the stuff that you just can’t do because there is only so many hours in the day. These things are as important as the things you must do because you can’t do everything.
Learning to Say “No” Without Feeling Guilty
Now, exactly what your top priorities are going to be will depend a lot on your circumstances. So, when it comes to deciding what priority to give something you need to ask yourself the question: “If I don’t do this thing today, what is the worst that can happen? If the consequences are dire, then this falls into the MUST do category. For example, if you do not pay your mortgage, then you could end up homeless, so obviously that comes into the must do category.
If the consequences are mere inconvenience, then this task falls into the should do category. You should try and do it, but if you don’t, then there may be problems later but it’s not the end of the world.
If the consequences are no big deal, then this task should fall into the could do or the can’t do categories, and when you are deciding what is going to be in the can’t do category, you need to learn how to say “no” without feeling guilty. Now, a lot of people have a big hang up about this and this feeling may have its roots in childhood when we are brought up to please people so we say yes to most things, and of course it is easier to say yes to something than it is to say “no,” because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. But when you say yes to every thing, you really are not doing yourself any favours, because, as I said earlier, you can’t do everything. If you don’t have the time do something, then you don’t have the time, period.
You have to learn to say “no” without feeling guilty, because saying “no” to something means you are able to say “yes” to something more important, that is, something that is in the MUST do or should do categories.
Now, there is a very good book on this subject called “How to say NO without feeling guilty” by Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch, which you can buy at amazon.com and other good book stores. The book goes into a lot of detail about the psychology of how you say “no” without feeling guilty. Once you are able to do this you should be able to get your priorities in order very easily.