~I posted a picture on Instagram on Wednesday of a new spread I made in my Bullet Journal. One I’ve been sorely in need of for a while now and had never gotten around to actually implementing.
I present to you, the Priority Ladder.
Now I’m sure this idea has been done before and probably called a more eloquent name, but this variation is mine and I’m quite proud of it. Since I started working full time, with only one day off a week aside from Sunday, all of my errands and chores and other important tasks have be condensed to that one day. Needless to say, my brain has been close to exploding and burning out, simultaneously.
(You’re welcome for that mental picture.)
As always, I knew I could find a solution with the help of my Bullet Journal, so Wednesday I made it a priority (haha) to sit down with my BuJo and draw out this idea I had. I’m a VERY visual person, so having this drawn out, instead of just floating in my head, has helped SO MUCH, even in just the few days I’ve had it.
It’s really a simple concept, but as with most game-changers, they’re stupidly obviously once they occur to us. It’s just the occurring we seem to have problems with.
I’ll break down how mine works, and give hopefully helpful suggestions along the way.
For me, my #1 priority, time-wise, is my work. I’m working five days a week, 7 1/2 hour shifts. I’m bringing my own lunches because I’m too poor to by food yet. So I have to make or prepare my lunch the night or weekend ahead of time. Closely followed would be showers. (yes, I have to write ‘shower’ on my to-do list.) For you, your #1 priority should be whatever takes up most of your time. Whatever is most important and time consuming. Be sure to include related tasks. (for me; lunches and showering.)
Priority #2 is my ‘Homework’, things I need to do at home. I tried to list these in order of importance. At the very top I have Etsy orders and other time-critical crafts. At the moment I have two dragons that need to be made ASAP, and my niece’s quilt that I want to finish because I go to California in August. I implement this by getting out my beads and wire or the quilt right after I get home, or after I’ve showered or prepped my lunch for the next day.
Then I have my Doula Certification. This doesn’t apply to me quite yet, but I included it so I won’t have to re-write my Ladder in a few weeks. After I go to my doula class next month I’ll have a text book to work through. That obviously takes presidence after my time-critical crafts.
After that is blogging! Yep, you guys are within my top three most important Homework tasks. This is because I take my blog seriously and because it’s some-what time critical, since I try to post every other Saturday. This also means I have to prep and//or write each post the previous Wednesday, unless I can squeeze it in Thursday or Friday evening (like I’m doing with this post).
Letters come next. Since we moved and I got a job, I’ve been rather terrible about replying to my pen-pals. I’m not kidding when I say I have //stacks// of letters waiting for responses. I need to make this a priority in my life, but it’s not CRITICAL, so it goes under blogging.
Tidying my room and cleaning my bathroom is next. Since I don’t have a lot of free time, cleaning when I ‘get around to it’ isn’t an option anymore. If I don’t write it in my priorities, I ain’t gonna get down. (An entire Ladder rung devoted to cleaning might be a good idea for house wives and those who have a whole house to care for. Since I live with my parents, I just have my rooms and bathroom to clean.)
Non-fiction reading goes in this category too, but it’s not that important. I just didn’t want to rank it any lower. Finances also go here because I need to keep on top of insurance and car payments and savings and all that junk once I start getting paid. Anyone who owns or runs a small or large business of any kind might benefit from having a whole Rung devoted to finances and business things.
#3 is currently only holds Library Book Reading. Honestly (and sadly) reading isn’t a priority at ALL in my life right now, and that’s okay when I’m reading books I own. But when it involves library books, I need to make sure I finish them in a timely manner. Basically this third category would be devoted to anything that should be done, that shouldn’t be forgotten, but it’s not doesn’t actually have to get done.
And then I have my ‘Not Important’ box. This is more than half the reason I made this whole thing to begin with. The three items you see in this box are my largest time-wasters. Time that I really can’t afford to be wasting on them like I was before I got a job. So I made a specific Rung to write down all the things that NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE DONE EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE AND THE WORLD WOULD KEEP TURNING AND EVERYONE WOULD PROBABLY BE BETTER OFF FOR IT.
Yeah, it hurts, because those are things I really love doing. But they’re also very lazy and worthless things. If you’re going to use the Priority Ladder, don’t skip this step. It’s just as important to list things you don’t or shouldn’t do, as it is to list things you need and should do. It’ll be tough, and it involves kicking your pride and your laziness, but you must figure out what activities are your greatest time-wasters so you can know not to do them as often. Now I’m not saying you should never do these things! Trust me, around the last hour or two of my shift, I start really looking forward to getting home and playing Minecraft. But that won’t happen every night, and it shouldn’t, either.
I also highly encourage anyone who wants to try this to not make any more than 3 priority categories. Make sub-categories if you have to. Eventually I’m going to have to expand some of my Homework tasks to include sub-tasks. But I’m not going to make a whole new Rung for them. If you have 14 Rungs of categories, they’re going to all run together and it’ll be too complicated and you’ll ditch the whole system and be right back where you were before you started. Keep it simple.
#1 should be Work or School, depending on what takes up most of your time. If neither of those are an issue, then pick whatever else you should be devoting yourself to. Moms might benefit from having this first category be ‘The Home’ or some such, and lump cleaning, cooking//errands, homeschooling or homework, and like tasks together. Small (or large) business owners should have their business be this first category. All related tasks and sub-priorities should be listed in order of priority in this box. (That goes for all Priority Rungs.)
#2 should include anything else time critical, but not life-essential. Anything important but not related to your biggest time consumer. Examples would be, blogging, cleaning(if that’s not in your #1), research or homework if applicable, relationships(if that’s something you need to visual prioritize. For me, I had to include letter writing). Any commitments or responsibilities you need to remember and keep up on.
And then #3 should be anything you need to keep in mind, but don’t necessarily have to get done by an deadline. This can include pleasurable yet worth-while activities. Things you can and should do before moving to your ‘Not Important’ things.
I’ve already explained Not Important, but again, figure out what are your greatest time-wasters that you need to cut back on, that you don’t ever need to do, that can get permanently put on the back burner without any consequences, and write them here. Netflix and Youtube are great suggestions, but mindless social media use and similar activities are good things to put here.
And there you have it! Your own complete Priority Ladder! Now, with any time-management tool like this, it will only work if you make it work. This simply helps your realize and organize your priorities and where your priorities should be. But it’s up to you to make the daily decision to use your time on your #1 and #2 tasks and let your #3 and Not Important get pushed aside.
I hope this is as much a help to you and it has been for me!