You often ask me for organizational advice on the blog! Blogging and managing your social networks requires a lot of time, a time that is not always easy to take when you have a family life, a professional life, a life as a couple and leisure nearby! So how to prioritize tasks to get through his to-do list?
It’s an interesting challenge when you blog or just have a lot of things to manage at the same time. Sometimes you get the impression that “everything has to be done” without necessarily achieving it.
Today, I suggest you discover a method for prioritizing your tasks which has been popularized by Michael Hyatt in a book called Finally freed from overwork: accomplish more by doing less.
Another approach to the to-do list
It’s very popular today to-do list, lists of all the tasks to be performed. If some do it in their professional life, others also do it in their personal life as a tool to better organize themselves.
The list fixes the program of what you have to do, largely determines your satisfaction and your feeling of “accomplished duty”.
The problem, of course, is that it is not not always easy to overcome your to-do list.
With a blog, it’s the same thing: there are a thousand activities to do (improve your design, respond to comments and emails, write new content, animate your social networks, take photos, think about future article ideas, maintain its site, etc.). How to keep everything in a week? Difficult !
Michael Hyatt offers in his book to help you focus on the tasks that are really worth it. It is a refreshing approach to productivity: instead of saying to yourself “we will try to make everything fit in a day” by maximizing its concentration and its efficiency, we will rather try to prioritize its tasks to devote itself to those who have real added value.
It allows to regain control, to decide carefully what matters to you instead of trying to “check all the boxes” on your to-do list. It is also to take into account the fact that the priorities are not the same for everyone, hence the interest in doing conscious work to define one’s own!
Michael Hyatt’s book has known since its publication huge popular success (and by the way, its original version Free To Focus obtains 5 stars on Amazon at the time of writing this article, with several hundred opinions!) and this is how it was translated into French under the title Finally freed from overwork.
How to prioritize your tasks?
Michael Hyatt offers in his book a tool he calls “The compass of freedom”, a name that reminds you that the purpose of all this is to free up time to do what you like, a new area of freedom that you can use as you see fit.
This freedom is both physical and mental : it’s being able to devote yourself to activities without the frustration of thinking about everything you haven’t had time to do; it is allowing yourself guiltlessly to do nothing, because you need to take this time for yourself; it is accepting to be spontaneous, to admit that your day is not 100% scheduled before starting.
The axes of the compass of freedom
This compass has 2 axes:
- The axis of passion – It’s the degree to which a task motivates you, captivates you, fascinates you.
- The axis of competence – This is the talent you have for carrying out a task: is it easy or difficult for you, does it correspond to an aptitude that you naturally possess or does it require a colossal effort?
From these two axes, which I represent in the image below, Michael Hyatt determines 4 zones … which correspond to 4 types of tasks to be performed … and 4 types of behaviors to have.
4 types of tasks to accomplish
Michael Hyatt advises to start by categorizing what you have to do according to these 4 areas:
- The area of desire – These are tasks that you enjoy performing and for which you have a certain talent.
- The disinterest area – These are tasks that you know how to do correctly but that do not give you any pleasure.
- The distraction area – These are tasks that we like to do but for which we have no particular skill.
- The chore zone – This is the loose zone, with tasks that we have no pleasure in performing and on which, in addition, we show incompetence!
As you can see, this is a very personal vision because it involves assessing your own motivation and your own ability to do something.
How to manage your to-do list from these areas?
To decide how to prioritize your tasks, remember that your objective will be to spend as much time as possible in your area of desire, that is to say, to perform the tasks for which you are gifted … and which, moreover, fascinate you!
This is another way of saying that you have to focus on your talents and passions. Think about the qualities people often attribute to you, when you really feel fulfilled doing what you do, imagine your “ideal day” and the activities it would involve. This should help you identify the tasks in this “desire zone”.
As for the tasks that you are not passionate about – those of the chore and disinterest areas, it is a question of reducing the weight that they represent in your life … which can mobilize different approaches:
- Delegate them, in whole or in part – We don’t all have the same interests and what you find very off-putting can be captivating for another person. If you cannot fully delegate, perhaps you can get help from another person.
- Automate them – Think about what can help you accomplish these tasks: are there tools to make your work easier? A way to automate these tasks?
- Pool them – Grouping similar tasks together to do them faster is a method whose merits I often praise. For example, if you have photos to edit for 3 articles and you find this activity boring, do it all at once instead of doing it when you write each content.
- Delete them if possible – Sometimes it’s okay not to do something, on the contrary! Saying “no” can be beneficial to preserve your time and balance.
To take some concrete examples, I know how to manage a Facebook page (skill ok!) But this is not the activity I prefer (passion bof bof!). So we are typically in the disinterest area. I could delegate this activity to someone, by paying a community manager. I could also devote myself to it once a week, for example by preparing all my upcoming posts all at once and by doing a big “reply to messages” session. But I chose the last option: as my blog is not professional, I simply decided not to open a Facebook page and thus eliminate the task from my to-do list.
Delphine of the DeeDeeParis blog once explained on her blog that she was totally impervious to the technical aspects of running a blog. The idea of fiddling with code gave him pimples and seemed totally obscure to him. We are typically in the chore area : no particular skill for the subject… and in addition, it gets you down to the highest point!
Delphine chose to delegate the technical part of her blog to third parties who, themselves, master the subject and like it 🙂
The most complex area to manage is probably the distraction area… Because these are activities that you enjoy but for which you lack expertise. If this expertise can be acquired and you are willing to acquire it, it is worth spending time on it. Otherwise, the tasks that you place in this zone will pass into the background.
Prioritize your tasks, a reflex to adopt
To get into the habit of doing this exercise, ask yourself a moment and list all the tasks that you are called upon to do when managing your blog. Try to classify them within the 4 zones proposed by Michael Hyatt.
You can for example make two columns (competence / passion) and put + or – for each task.
At the end, it’s easy to see how to prioritize your tasks: the lines with two + are the ones that must be given priority, the lines with two – the ones that we must try to eliminate or simplify as much as possible …
In between, there is a arbitration area with tasks on which you should spend less time trying to optimize or eliminate them.
It is an approach to productivity that I find interesting and “kind to yourself” because instead of trying to always do more, we accept the idea that it is not always possible to do EVERYTHING… and that we simply have to try to organize our timetable according to what brings us the most benefits.