Sunday, April 22, 2007


For many people the secret to getting the right things done in life is to create a “to-do” list and prioritize the items on it. Call it “putting the big rocks in first”—if you’re familiar with that story—or label it “My way of conquering the tyranny of the urgent” if that’s more to your liking.

However, not everyone operates the same way. Knowing yourself and understanding your personality/temperament can give you clues about how to prioritize your list. Some personality types work best by doing the hated jobs first before rewarding themselves with the things they enjoy more. Some prefer to do the smaller, quicker jobs first to get them out of the way before tackling the big ones. While others might always work on the most important, biggest items until they’re done before even considering other tasks.

Of course a lot depends on whether you’re working for someone else or for yourself. The choice of when to do which task may not be yours. If that’s the case, knowing who you are authentically can help you approach duties that you must do but don’t look forward to. See if reframing the incident will help you deal with it. Instead of thinking about it as a task you hate, think of it as an opportunity to advance in your job. See what you can learn from the experience. Or if it helps, plan to reward yourself after doing something you dislike. Finish that report then head to Starbucks. Or on the home front, if you hate chores like ironing clothes as I do, plan in advance what you will do for fun after you’ve pressed the wrinkles out of your life. Just looking ahead to something pleasant can make the difficult task go faster.

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