When you’re juggling multiple things in your life (for example, a full-time job, a side hustle, school, a family, etc.) it can seem like your to-do list is pretty much overflowing, and prioritizing tasks can feel pretty impossible. That’s how I felt for years as I balanced all of the responsibilities I had.
Everything feels urgent and you don’t know where to start! In this post I’m sharing the tips you NEED to teach you how to prioritize tasks when everything seems super urgent.
In this post, I’m sharing some of the best tips that will help you to prioritize your tasks, even when everything on your to-do list seems important.
How to Prioritize Tasks
Make a To-Do List
I tend to get really stressed and feel super disorganized when I’ve got a bunch of ideas and mental notes floating around in my head, so step one for me is always getting everything down on a to-do list. I just like to have the visual representation of everything I need to get done, and that also ensures I don’t forget anything!
I write a daily to-do list every day that is filled with small, manageable tasks that need to get done that day. I also keep a big picture to-do list of all the projects I want to get done long-term, whether they be for my business or for me personally. And all of those tasks from the big picture to-do list will eventually make their way onto a daily to-do list to be finished.
When you’ve got a huge project to take on, you can’t really just throw it on the to-do list as is and expect that it’s going to get done. That’s because big projects are usually made up of tons of small tasks.
When I’m figuring out what tasks need to get done to accomplish my big project, I like to work backward. What is the final result going to look like? And what do I need to do right before that? And before that?
Sometimes when you’re starting a new project, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Working backward is a great way to tackle it because you can start with your final goal and use that to figure out where you need to start.
I love to plan and prefer to go into a project having as much planned out ahead of time as possible, so what I’m about to say might seem a bit counterintuitive. However…it is possible to over plan. There comes a point when your time spent planning just really isn’t productive anymore, and you’d be better off just diving into the project.
I notice that the projects I tend to over plan on are those that I’m anxious about starting, and I’m really just using the planning process as a form of procrastination. But if you’ve got an overflowing to-do list and hardly enough time to get everything done, you really don’t have time for procrastination.
What might be more beneficial is to ask yourself why you’re procrastinating. I’ve taken on really huge projects that I was excited about, but also super nervous, and I was procrastinating because I was worried about failing.
I’ve also taken on projects that I wasn’t excited about and it turns out, really didn’t matter that much for my business. If it’s the latter, consider just ditching the project altogether and freeing up some room on your to-do list!
Separate Urgent from Non-Urgent Tasks
Just because everything on your list is important does not mean everything on your list is urgent. When you’re really in a time crunch, some of those tasks that are important in the long-term but not really urgent may need to be postponed until you have more time to get to them.
Tasks that are important are those that are going to have a long-term impact on your life, your job, your business, etc. Those that are urgent are time-sensitive. They have a deadline and need to be done soon. The tasks that are urgent as well as important trump those that are just important.
The best way to separate the urgent from the non-urgent is by using a handy tool called the Eisenhower Matrix.
Prioritize the Task That Will Have the Greatest Result
If all the tasks are important, think about which will have the most significant impact. Let’s say I’m working on my to-do list for my business and have a bunch of super important tasks to get done.
Once I’ve crossed off the time-sensitive ones, I’m left with a bunch of tasks that are important, but don’t necessarily need to be done that day. If there’s a task that will probably impact my business income the most, I’m probably going to start with that one!
Basically, rather than thinking of the importance of each individual task, think of the end result of each task and figure out which of those results is most important to you.
Consider Taking Something Off the List
While everything on your to-do list might seem important, be honest with yourself about whether or not it all really is. Maybe there’s something that’s on your list because you think it’s something you should be doing, but it really isn’t important to you. Or maybe there’s something that seemed important to you at the time you put it on your list, but it no longer is.
Removing something from my to-do list always makes me a bit anxious. I feel like once I’ve written it down, I’ve committed to it. But it’s totally okay to take things off the list, and if it wasn’t really important to you anyways, then you’ll just feel better after you remove it.
Seriously, getting your life organized is no small feat. And it’s ALL about knowing your priorities and sticking to them no matter WHAT.
These tips are sure to help you get your priorities in order. I would love for you to leave me a comment and let me know what your biggest struggles are when it comes to productivity!
The beginning of a new month is always a bittersweet time for me. I’m always excited about entering a new month and making plans for the weeks ahead, but I’m always anxious thinking of how fast the previous month went and how many things I wasn’t able to accomplish.
Luckily I’ve come up with some routines to do at the beginning of each month to stay organized, stay productive, and stay on top of things! Seriously, just doing these six things makes a BIG difference!
Things to Do at the Start of Every Month to Stay Organized
I like to sit down at the beginning of every month and reevaluate the budget, in addition to keeping track of it throughout the month.
This is a good time to see how you did on last month’s budget, as well as make any necessary changes for the upcoming months. This is the time to identify where I’ve wasted money and where I’ve done a good job of saving it.
Create Monthly Goals
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I love creating goals for myself. I also happen to love talking about goal setting!
I write personal goals for myself, as well as goals for my blog and business. Writing them down is a great step, and revisiting them every month helps create some accountability, rather than just the set it and forget it approach that WAY too many people take when it comes to goal setting!
You can’t set goals for yourself and hope they come true without taking real action. You have to set goals the right way to make sure you reach them!
Set a Fitness Goal
So many people set ultimate fitness goals (lose X number of pounds, run a 5K, etc), but they don’t set small goals to help them reach that larger goal.
Every month sit down and reevaluate your ultimate goal and figure out what steps you can take this month to get closer! The nice thing about monthly fitness goals is that they can be really SMALL and manageable!
For example, you might set a goal of trying one new workout class this month, or prepping meals for the week every Sunday. Totally doable, but still something that keeps you moving toward your great fitness goals.
Create a Meal Plan
I don’t always write a meal plan, but I guarantee I am more diligent about cooking meals in the evening and spend less money on groceries when I do.
You don’t have to do this a month at a time, but it’s a great time to do it if you do any sort of bulk shopping at Costco, Sam’s Club, etc. Then throughout the month, you can make smaller trips to your local grocery store for your perishable items like produce.
Update Your Calendar
At the beginning of each month, it always seems like I’m going to have SO many free weekends and so much free time.
Then, as the month goes by, I make new plans or remember plans that I never wrote on the calendar, and suddenly I’m busy every single weekend. I could definitely avoid this if I updated my calendar more regularly and double-checked it at the beginning of every month.
That way I know what weekend plans I already have, and can be prepared to say no to any last-minute plans that interrupt my precious amount of free time.
Do a Deep Clean
The beginning of the month is a great time to take care of the cleaning tasks that don’t do on a weekly basis. Now is the time to take care of things like cleaning out your refrigerator, cleaning out your car, and mopping the floors.
They sound simple, and I know it’s only six things, but I swear doing these each and every month makes SUCH a difference in making sure I stay organized and reach my goals all month long. Plus when I’m super prepared, the months don’t tend to go as scary-fast!
I would LOVE to know what things you make time for every month to keep yourself organized. Leave a comment and let me know!
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
In my crazy life, there is NO room for disorganization.
For years I was balancing a full-time job and an online business. And even though I’m running my business full-time now, it still takes up far more than full-time hours, and it can be difficult to balance it with the rest of my life.
For those of you with a lot going on in your lives (multiply that if you’ve got kiddos!) then you totally know what I’m talking about.
For those of you struggling to stay organized despite a SUPER busy life, make sure to check out these 8 daily habits for how to organize your life. I know they’ve been a life-saver for me!
How to Organize Your Life
Write Everything Down
This piece of advice is first on my list because it’s the one that I adhere to each and every day, without fail!
I know from personal experience that a task is more likely to get done if I write it down somewhere. In fact, there’s almost NO chance I’m not getting it done if it’s not on a list.
Organized people take advantage of to-do lists and planners to organize their life and ensure they’re staying on top of all tasks. I may have a slight obsession with to-do lists!
And it definitely doesn’t have to be a paper planner or to-do list! There are TONS of awesome apps out there you can use to stay on top of your to-do list. Something as basic as the Apple Reminders app works.
I frequently do brain-dumps of any to-do’s that I can think of. I’d rather have it all on paper than running around in my mind when I’m trying to focus on other things.
Additionally, I keep a calendar with our upcoming schedule, so we never forget an appointment or event!
If you have been struggling with staying organized, this is seriously my #1 piece of advice and I think would make a huge difference for most people!
Learn How to Manage Your Time
Poor time management is seriously one of the biggest causes of stress and disorganization.
It seems like time management is something just about all of us struggle with. Whether you’re balancing a full-time job, a side hustle, a family, travel, etc., it just seems like there is never enough time in the day.
When I think about the times in my life where I was the least organized, it was also the times where I wasn’t really working toward any goals. I was just letting life happen to me, rather than really taking control of it.
Once I really learned about goal setting, I saw such an amazing difference in myself. Now I really have a focus and determination that I’ve never had before, and it keeps me so organized!
Achieving your goals takes time, effort, and planning. You can’t achieve goals just by hoping they happen someday. You have to take action. I’ve got a whole tutorial about how to set goals and plan your best year ever, so make sure to check it out!
Focus on One Task at a Time
I used to think I was a really good multitasker. I’ve always juggled a lot of things going on at once in my life, so I thought that was something I had down.
Except, it turns out there’s no such thing as multitasking. Your brain simply can’t give that kind of focus to two things at once.
So when you think you’re multitasking, you’re either switching back and forth between two things (which is a huge waste of time because of all the time you’re spending in transition) or you’re completely failing at one of the things you think you’re doing. And that’s when things seriously start to fall through the cracks.
Organized people know this, and so they give all their attention to the task at hand before switching to the next task.
If you’re someone who frequently “multitasks”, I really challenge you to narrow your focus. What you’ll probably find is that it takes you even less time to complete everything because it’s easier to get everything done in a timely manner when it has your full attention.
Minimize Your Space
Your surroundings play a huge factor in determining your productivity. Seriously, I can feel my productivity start to slip when I’m trying to get anything done in a cluttered workspace. Clutter stresses me out and it becomes hard for me to focus.
When you’ve minimized and created a clean, minimal work environment for yourself, you’ll find it way easier to stay organized and focused on what is in front of you.
You’ll also be less likely to lose tons of time shuffling through piles of stuff to find what you’re looking for.
Finally, you’ll find that you spend a lot less time cleaning and organizing when you’ve simply got less stuff!
I love to declutter. For some reason, it’s a task I actually find really fun! And I’ve pretty much become a master at it at this point.
A few years ago, I moved from a three-bedroom house into a studio apartment. That meant that I had to get rid of almost all of my belongings. It was tough at first, but I asked myself some hard questions that helped to narrow down what I should keep and what I should discard.
Create a One-In, One-Out Rule
Once you’ve decluttered your home, you have to actually commit to keeping it that way.
One way that I have done this is by creating a one-in, one-out rule. This means that anytime I want to buy something, I first have to pick something to get rid of (either donate or sell).
For example, if I want to buy a new pair of shoes, I must also choose a pair of shoes to get rid of.
Use Tools to Plan Ahead
Organized people know what’s coming.
I love my daily to-do lists, but sometimes I need a slightly wider scope of what to plan for in order to stay organized. At the beginning of each week, I like to have at least a general idea of what I’m planning to get done each day, if not a specific breakdown of all the tasks for each day.
In addition to my paper planner that I use for my daily to-do list, I also use Asana for big-picture business planning. Asana is an awesome project and task management system that allows you to create organize individual projects or your entire business. Pretty much everything I do in my business is organized in Asana!
Use a Budgeting App
One of the areas many of us struggle the most to stay organized is our finances. I was in my early twenties before I even made my first budget, and it was quite a few years after that before I actually got organized with my finances and stayed on top of that budget.
Getting control of your money will make a huge difference in ensuring you are organized everywhere else in your life as well. You can check out my list of the best budgeting apps to figure out which one is right for you.
Anyone guilty of over-planning just about everything? It sounds like something that would make you even more organized, but it’s really not!
In reality, over-planning is usually a form of perfectionism, helping you to procrastinate and avoid actually taking action on projects.
Organized people know how to identify priorities and stick to them.
Picture this: you’re sitting at your desk, knowing you need to knock a few things off the to-do list today. You’re not feeling particularly motivated, so you choose a few of the easy, nonessential items and knock them each out in a few minutes.
And then by the end of the day, you haven’t really accomplished your most important tasks!
Sure, it might feel good to cross those things off the list, but are those real priorities? Instead of ordering your tasks by which are easiest, order them by the level of priority so you’re knocking the essential tasks out first, even if they’re more time-consuming.
Creating a Cleaning Schedule
I’m a relatively clean person now, but that wasn’t always the case. For many years, I would leave things until they reached the point of being unbearable, and then I would finally clean. And it always felt so overwhelming!
Eventually, I got so sick of always feeling behind and overwhelmed by housework, and I made a cleaning schedule for myself. I identified which tasks needed to be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc. and I put them on my calendar to make sure they would get done.
Cleaning is a lot more bearable when it takes 5-10 minutes per day instead of hours at a time!
Know When to Say No
Organized people can acknowledge when their plate is full and know to say no when appropriate.
We all only have so much time in the time jar and organized people know that overflowing the time jar is counter-productive, not to mention can have a negative effect on your mental health!
When you overcommit, you’re ensuring that you basically live in a constant state of stress and disorganization.
I have always been (and still am to an extent) pretty uncomfortable with saying no, so I understand what a challenge it can be for people. But the more time you spend saying YES to those around you and their priorities, the more you’re really saying NO to your own priorities.
Create a Morning Routine
Creating a morning routine is super important for organizing your life. Creating routines in my life, especially a morning routine, has allowed me to become healthier and way more productive.
I’m not telling you that you need to get up at 5 AM every day to reach your goals, but it is essential that you implement some sort of routine that allows you to start the day on the right foot!
I really find that when my morning is organized, so is my entire day!
Commit to Tasks and Follow Through
If I’m feeling particularly disorganized one week (or day or month), there’s a good chance it’s because I’ve fallen behind on some tasks and am scrambling to catch up.
A great way to get more organized all the time is to make sure that if you’re committing to a task, you’re following through on it.
You can set reminders in your calendar or download a to-do list app on your phone that will remind you of your tasks.
Synchronize Your Calendars
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got calendars and planners everywhere.
I have Asana that I use for my blogging planner. I have a Google calendar for both of my two email inboxes (personal and blog), and I have a work calendar. Then there’s the running calendar in my head of events and commitments that I’m aware of, but will probably forget within 24 hours if they aren’t written down.
I know I’m not alone here! So many people I know are running on multiple calendars and can hardly schedule anything without looking in three different places to make sure they’re free. Or they’re letting meetings and commitments fall through the cracks.
That’s why it’s so important to synchronize your calendars so you aren’t letting anything get lost in the fray. You’ll feel infinitely more organized when you can look in one place for everything you need to prepare for or attend.
Clean Out Your Inbox
Ah yes, the dreaded inbox (or several inboxes, if you’re like me).
I can’t remember the last time I achieved “inbox zero” in any one of my email inboxes. It’s not an issue of me not having read the emails. I’m reading emails more times per day than I care to admit. But once I read them, I think that I might at some point need this email again, and then I just let it sit in my inbox.
But there’s an easy way to rectify that. If you have to hang onto an email you’ve already read, fine! But put it somewhere. Don’t just leave it sitting in your inbox. Utilize folders to make your inbox as organized as possible and make sure you aren’t scrolling through pages of emails to find one you need. Make it your goal that the only emails sitting in your general inbox are those you haven’t read yet.
If your problem is that you’re lazy about actually reading your emails, allot a certain amount of time each day to going through emails and either deleting them or relocating them to a different folder.
Staying organized isn’t always easy, but seriously life goes SO much more smoothly when you do! Adopting these habits is sure to help you do that. Leave me a comment and let me know how YOU stay productive!