I teach Sunday School once a month to a small group of boys. Last week, I taught a subject that is dear to my heart: using time wisely. Spiritual advice aside, the lesson also included some excellent secular counsel, in the form of the following short story:
Once an efficiency expert approached the president of a large steel corporation and outlined his firm’s services. “It’s no use,” the president responded. “I’m not managing as well as I know how to now. We need more action, not more knowing. If you could get us to do what we know we should, I’d pay you anything you ask.” “Fine,” answered the consultant. “I can give you something in a few minutes to increase your productivity by 50 percent. First, write on a blank sheet the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Second, put them in order of their importance. Third, pull the sheet out the first thing tomorrow morning and begin working on item one. Fourth, when you finish it, do item two, then item three. Do this until quitting time. Don’t worry if you finish only two or three, or even if you finish only one item. You’ll be working on the most important ones first. Fifth, take the last five minutes of each working day to make out a new list for the next day’s tasks.”
Then rinse and repeat. I do this daily in my Google Calendar and always consult it before making a new entry, so I can decide when and where to prioritize. If you need help with prioritization, categorize each commitment as either “must do,” “should do,” or “would like to do.” Works like a charm.