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How to Achieve Goals by Prioritizing: 3 Free Worksheets

Learning how to prioritize helps achieve goals with greater success and efficiency.

Priorities and goals are sometimes lumped together or considered synonymous, but they really deserve their own separate buckets. 

While there’s no true cap on your life goals, prioritizing tasks alongside of daily life should be handled a bit differently. 

After all, not everything can be considered a priority!  There is just not enough time in the day, energy, or mental capacity for everything to have a deadline or rise to the top of the list.

Visit below to download your 3 free priority worksheets!

The important thing is to categorize your list of priorities in the most realistic, yet impactful, way possible.  Some tasks will serve to positively impact specific goals you have set for yourself while other tasks, although not as influential to your overall life satisfaction, still hold a level of importance.

How to prioritize

Figuring out your main priorities doesn’t have to feel so daunting if you take a moment to sort through the difference between your to-do list, your important tasks, and your important decisions

3 Best Prioritization Tools

1. Priority Matrix

Using a priority matrix will help take each thing that is on your plate and place it into a specific category – Quick Wins, Major Projects, Fill-Ins, or Thankless Tasks.  Going through the process of identifying each task and which category it fits into will immediately provide you with a visual of how to best allocate your time.  Additionally, asking yourself a few questions associated with each category may open your mind to approaching certain tasks differently and more efficiently!

Quick Wins (High Impact, Low Effort)

These are tasks that don’t take much time to complete but will serve to improve your overall situation in some way.  Some examples include 20 minutes of movement or exercise per day, setting up automatic payment for your bills, scheduling health screenings that are due or changing the batteries in your smoke alarms.

Tip: Which quick wins align best with your overall goals?  Pick one or two quick wins per day based off your answer.

Major Projects (High Impact, High Effort)

These tasks are valuable endeavors.  They stand to improve your overall situation or positively impact your life goals in some way but may require a significant amount of time or planning.  Some examples include weight loss or hardwiring a healthy lifestyle, career change or career advancement, or even planning a family vacation (have you ever tried to plan a trip to Disney?!). 

Tip: Which major projects align best with your overall goals?  Break the task down into smaller, more manageable pieces and order them by dependency on one another.  Schedule standing time on your calendar to begin addressing each piece.  Enlist help if possible!

Fill-Ins (Low Impact, Low Effort)

These tasks can be worked on, or completed, during idle time or the moments when you “have a few minutes here or there.”  Some examples of fill-ins may be cleaning out closets, picking up the dry cleaning or certain types of laundry.

Tip: A good rule of thumb with fill-ins is determining if there is anything else on your list that is dependent on that particular task getting done.  If there are a bunch of other priorities that are dependent on that task being accomplished, then it may be better to shift it over to another category with higher impact.

Thankless Tasks (Low Impact, High Effort)

These tasks are the pure uphill slog of all tasks.  This is your list of priorities that need to get done but may not bring much enjoyment or provide a high level of satisfaction.  Some examples include doing your annual taxes, weekly grocery shopping or even driving your kids around to multiple extracurricular activities (yes, this can take hours of your day and schedule burnout is a real thing!).

Tip: What can be delegated in this category to someone else (i.e., grocery delivery, tax accountant, carpooling, etc.)?  What would make these tasks more enjoyable (i.e., listening to a podcast or music)?

2. SMART Goals

I highly suggest getting clear on your goals before determining your main priorities.  Setting SMART goals is one of the most utilized methods by individuals as well as organizations to help determine both short and long-term goals. 

Creating a framework for your goals is an effective way to organize your thoughts and begin taking actionable steps.  And those actionable steps should have a place on your priority list.

Using a SMART goal worksheet (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) methodically walks you through each component of a goal and creates a structure to support your success.  This process will also create awareness around which actions should take priority.

3. Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a coaching tool commonly used to help individuals evaluate their level of satisfaction across 8 different dimensions of life – Health and Fitness, Relationships, Finances, Career, Family and Friends, Emotional Well-Being, Social and Leisure and Personal Growth. Evaluating each dimension allows you to visualize which aspects of life are off balance and will benefit from attention.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or are falling into the trap of feeling like everything “needs” your attention then The Wheel of Life may be a great resource to help you hit the pause button, reflect, and really determine your main priorities.  This exercise provides an opportunity to evaluate your level of satisfaction in all aspect of your life, helping the main priorities rise to the top.

No matter what method of prioritization works best for you, please be realistic with yourself.  There are no awards for carrying the heaviest plate.  There is no prize for running yourself ragged.  But there is a price to pay for trying to take on too much – and that price is your mental health and your physical health. 

Most of the things in life that we deem urgent are not.  We let things like our own unrealistic expectations, or the unrealistic expectations of others, take over and run the show.  Take the time to be intentional about how you decide to allocate your time.  Your time and your energy are a valuable resource, spend them wisely.

Get your FREE priority worksheets plus access to a ton of additional free resources!

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