Editorial Assistance

The Importance of Prioritizing

Prioritizing and time management is hard work, and it becomes even harder when more variables get tossed in. For instance, I spent a long amount of time being a workaholic loner. Though I was miserable, I never had a hard time creating and sticking to tight, efficient schedules. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and exactly how to go about achieving it in a timely, thorough manner. Prioritizing was my entire life...

Well, until I met Matthew, fell in love, had a series of breakdowns when I went away to college, and then finally reached a happy equilibrium with myself where I feel confident, beautiful, intelligent, and ready to pursue my dreams.

Now everything is reversed. I still have my bad juju moments, but overall I'm very happy with who I am and who I want to be. As a result, I hang out a lot more, both with my friends and my boyfriend, and I allow myself to take breaks and have fun. On top of that, my fear of college has dissipated enough for me to enroll in college again (though I admittedly still think I could be doing much much better things with my time) and I finally have a part-time job.

Nothing clashes more with prioritizing than being a full-time college student who has a part-time job and friends/boyfriend who like to hang out.

Of course, when I say prioritizing, I don't mean just prioritizing my personal life. I'm a writer, editor, reviewer, and entrepreneur. My ideas are never 'average.' I like to take something that's been overdone and add something fresh or relatively unheard of. I like to create a list of ideas and and put it together to make something grandiose. Unfortunately, grandiose innovations require dedication, time management, hard work, and, more than anything, the ability to consistently prioritize.

If I were a stranger observing myself, these would be my priorities, in order from most important to least important. It's not really in order of what I think is most important, which is a vital distinction to make. People, including me, don't necessarily live life the way they want to or think they should. Many of us live life the way it forces us to and then try to add in what we want.

  •  Hanging out with my boyfriend.
  • Getting good grades at college, or at least going every day and finishing the majority of the assignments.
  • Hanging out with friends (keep in mind that, while I do get asked to hang out more than before, I don't get asked to hang out on an everyday basis. Some months I'll only be asked once or twice. Other months, I'm out one or two times a week. Regardless, it's not rampant and extremely time consuming).
  • Working on Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking
  • Improving my networking.
  • Entering into writing/scholarship contests.
  • Working on Savior of the Damned and other fiction ideas.
  • Developing my retail store idea or any other entrepreneurial idea that seems worth pursuing. 
  • Working on DIY Guide to Book Promotion and Networking and the tutorial videos.
It's a lot to try and prioritize, and each is very important for one reason or another. The first thing I want to do is start crossing stuff off the list. I start thinking, "Maybe I should hang out with Matthew less. Maybe I should turn my friends down. Maybe I should become a part-time college student or take another break...."

They seem reasonable when written out like that, but those solutions don't really work for me when applied. They throw off my equilibrium in a way that always escalates to unnecessary issues.

See, my main problem with prioritizing is that I want to think about and work on every idea simultaneously. I want to be an entrepreneur, writer, editor, reviewer, tutor, full-time college student, sales associate, committed girlfriend, and social butterfly ALL AT ONCE. Every day, I'm awake and active for 15 hours, give or take, and I want to stretch those 15 hours and divide them into neat little portions where I can cleanly take off one hat and put on another.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. If you have lots of ideas and live an active, multifaceted life, your method of prioritizing needs to take that multifaceted life and spell it out. What does that mean?

First, it means that you need to figure out what part of your priorities will happen consistently regardless. For me, that's the first three priorities in the list above and improving my networking. I don't have any intentions to change those priorities or do them some other time. They just happen, and they don't interrupt my life so much that they're intolerable or counterproductive.

Second, it means that you need to figure out what's most important to you now and what can be put aside until later. If I take that list above and list it again based on what's immediately important, but this time missing the four consistent priorities, this is the list I get:

  • Working on Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking
  • Working on Savior of the Damned 
  • Working on DIY Guide to Book Promotion and Networking
  • Entering into writing/scholarship contests (Which I'll most likely do simultaneously with developing my retail idea)
  • Developing my retail ideas (This may move higher up on the list if I enter this idea into the Big Sell competition this May) 
Now that I know exactly what needs to be done by order of immediate importance, I know exactly what to focus on individually. Right now, I need to finish Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking. That needs to be ready for publication by the end of this month. Until I finish Unconventional Methods, I shouldn't work on any other thing in that priority list. Sure, if I get ideas, it's fine to note the ideas in a notebook, but I shouldn't follow up on that idea until I'm finished with what I'm currently working on. Otherwise, I'm just giving myself permission to procrastinate with the excuse that, "It's not really procrastination. I'm working on something I need to work on, after all."

I also need to get rid of my 'be all, end all' notebook. Having one notebook for everything I need to do makes me more likely to procrastinate and work on something I shouldn't be working on. Beside that, it's also highly unorganized and frustrating when I want to search for something and find it mixed in with a gazillion unrelated notes.

How do you prioritize?
2 Responses
  1. What a wonderful post, Tiffany! I think one of the biggest challenges in this life is figuring out how to prioritize effectively. Every day, it has to change. Every day, we have to re-evaluate. I think it's the constant re-evaluation that is key.

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