Prioritizing means finding the highest value task and giving it the focus, energy and time to get it done. It requires making decisions on what to do and what not to do so you can achieve your goal. With limited time and resources, you have to accept the fact that you will not always be able to give all your tasks equal attention.
As a single parent, you will find yourself doing all the household duties that would typically be divided between two spouses such as cleaning the gutter, doing the laundry, changing the light bulb and so on. So to avoid burning out, you must learn to prioritize. Easier said than done, I know. But if you practice these techniques, it may help you to manage your time effectively so you can be healthier and happier.
The key to successfully prioritizing requires you to apply the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of the tasks you have on your list may only provide 20% of the value or results you expect. This can sometimes translate to having a lot of little things you do in the day that don’t contribute towards your bigger goal or your key priorities. So focus on the 20% of the tasks that produce 80% of the value or results you seek.
Here are some techniques that can help you prioritize:
Identify what can be eliminated of delegated
Review your list and decide what you must do yourself and what can be delegated or eliminated. Ask for help wherever you can. Don’t burn yourself out by trying to tackle everything yourself. If hiring a cleaner is an option for you and is affordable, then hire one perhaps once a month to alleviate your schedule.
Know what resources and time is required
When you assign the importance or value of each task, you must also have a good idea of the amount of resources and time it took for you to complete it so you are able to accomplish the task within a realistic time frame.
Assign tasks based on its level of importance or value
Use a system where you assign level 1, 2, 3 or A,B,C based on how important the task is in your list. For critical tasks that carry consequences and must be done as soon as possible, you may want to assign A or 1 to indicate its importance. For other non-urgent matters that work towards a weekly goal, you may want to assign a 2 or B. For other tasks that work towards a longer term goal, you can assign a 3 or C.
Complete the tasks based on your assigned value system
Complete all your 1’s or A’s first before moving into the second most important tasks on your list. By doing this, you stay focused on completing the most important tasks.
Adjust and reprioritize
Be prepared to handle unplanned new tasks that suddenly land on your list like having to drive your kids to soccer because another parent is sick. These types of unforeseen situations happen and add to your schedule, so don’t make life so rigid that an inevitable situation involving your kids could create unimaginable stress.
Values will change over time and expect to reprioritize often. Remember the 80/20 rule and make sure you focus your energy, attention and focus on the 20% of the list that bring you 80% of the value you seek and you’ll be on your way to crossing off the big goals you have on your list.
Share your ways of prioritizing in the day and tell us what’s worked for you and your family.