You’ve probably, at least once in your life, wondered how to find the time for those things you really want to do. With life obligations like work, family, school, and holidays, it can be difficult to imagine there is time for anything else. However, with a little bit of focus, you can develop the skills needed to carve out space for the projects you’ve been dreaming about.
Most of us have a million and one projects we’d like to accomplish in our lives. The sad truth is it’s impossible to fit them all within the span of our lifetime. So, we must prioritize what is most important to us. It is true that choosing to focus on one project may come at the cost of abandoning another, and that may feel uncomfortable to the point of decision paralysis, but if you give it a moment’s thought you most likely have already made decisions like this before without even realizing it.
The decisions we make that are based on societal norms may not seem like projects on the surface, but they are. Choosing to be in a relationship, have a family, start a career path, or buy a house are all life projects that were prioritized at the expense of other projects. If that makes you sad, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that all of your desired passion projects are out the window just because you decided to also have a family, it just means you’ll need to develop your prioritization muscle a bit more.
Not sure how to start making prioritization a priority? Grab a piece of paper and take a few minutes to work through this exercise.
On one side of your paper make a list of all the projects you’d like to accomplish. Don’t worry if they seem obtainable or not, just list out all of your heart’s desires big and small. Now, on the other side of the paper (or on a separate page) draw out a diagram like the one below.
Take each of your project ideas and categorize them into one of the quadrants of the Project Prioritizer matrix. Each of your ideas can be considered a large idea with lots of steps, or they can be small ideas with only a few steps to complete. Also, an idea can be complex with a lot of moving parts or there is a lot of knowledge gathering you’d need to do before you can begin the work. Alternatively, the idea can be simple and you already have the majority of the knowledge needed to get started.
When you have your project ideas categorized, you’ll want to choose one of the ideas in the simple and small quadrant to focus on. When going to the gym for the first time you don’t start off by trying to lift 300lbs, you start building your muscles with smaller weights first to work up to that heavy lift. The same is true for prioritization. Start with the smaller projects with which you have high confidence of success. Once you’ve been able to complete a few of those, move to the small and complex quadrant. Eventually, you’ll find a rhythm that works best for prioritizing your time on the projects you want to complete.
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