In terms of big goals and major priorities, you can really only have a handful at one time. It's impossible to have everything at number one. You need to be careful about how many priorities you set and here are some ideas for doing that.
How Long Should Your List Be?
How long should your list of priorities be? This is hard to answer because it differs from one person to another. It depends on how much time you have and how good you are at managing your time.
The best way to discover your own ideal number of priorities is to make a plan, follow it, and then see how it goes. Create a system for setting priorities and start using it to generate your daily to-do lists, and then put it into action. You'll know quickly whether you have too much on your plate, or whether there's room for more.
Don't Get Over-Complicated
If you're using a complicated prioritizing system where you have categories like A1 or C4 for your tasks, you're definitely making things too difficult for yourself. Your system for prioritizing should be simple. There are many approaches such as ranking, rating and classifying, but whatever approach you choose should be quick and easy to implement. It should take you only minutes each day to plug in your to-do list items and prioritize.
The Task That Never Goes Away
One easy way to see if you have too many things to do is if there's one item at the bottom that never goes away. If each day the same task is sitting on the bottom of your list un-crossed off, this is a sign that you have one too many.
Trim Your To-Do's
In a perfect world under perfect conditions, you'd get everything on your list done each day. But unfortunately, that's not the way it goes. This is why you should try whenever possible to trim your list. Don't just cut willy-nilly. For each item, ask yourself whether:
- It really needs to get done
- There might be someone else who can do it for you
- You can automate the task somehow so you don't have to actually do it each day
If tasks really need to get done but you're struggling to accomplish them, never be afraid to ask for help. You don't have to do everything on your own.