Beep Beep. Ring Ring. Ding Dong.
Notifications keep pouring into your phone. You take a quick peek and a simple notification telling you that your favourite YouTuber recently uploaded a video turns into a 3 hour search for pineapple pen videos (yes there is a pineapple pen video. It actually exists, and it’s awesome!).
It is pretty easy for days to go by without you really knowing where your time went. It is kinda like getting a salary. Today you have it, and if you don’t implement a lot of self-discipline, and learning the art of prioritization, the very next day you will be completely broke.
In this blogpost, I share how I learnt to implement this skill of prioritization.
Turn those notifications off
This works wonders for me. Most of my apps can’t give me notifications. This greatly eliminates distractions and helps me prioritize what is important to me. The few notifications that I have are for direct messages. This means that when my phone goes ding dong, I know that the message is just for me and is not a group message about stuff that is irrelevant to my vision and mission in life.
Filters make things really beautiful. I’ve tried them on a few nature pics and they have done wonders. Kudos to whoever created them. These filters are also available for your email. They make your inbox look very nice and clean, and help you in your journey of task prioritization. This reduces the number of messages that you have to read, leaving you to read the most important ones.
Here’s how I do it. Every once in a while, I login to my gmail account on my PC, and I tick all the messages that I find irrelevant to me. I choose the “filter notifications like these” and choose “apply to all similar messages.” In just one click, I instantly apply the actions chosen to all of the messages present. There are messages that I don’t find necessary to read when they come in – I can always search for them when I need them. For these ones I select the “mark as read” and “never mark as important.”
I also avoid using my gmail account where possible to prevent my inbox from being bombarded by spam messages. It is very hard to carry out any sort of prioritization when you are being bombarded with emails left, right and centre.
Another tip is to unsubscribe from all the junk emails you receive. The reason I put this last is because some emails are impossible to unsubscribe from. It is like playing hide and seek, but the only difference is that you never get to find the other person. In such cases, I just use the filter method.
Now that you’ve learnt to eliminate distractions, let’s move on to the practical tips to help you prioritize what is important to you.
Think of the time you were a kid and had a favourite cartoon hero. Mine was Ben 10. The original Ben 10. One key characteristic of the awesome cartoons is that they all had a mission. Ben 10’s mission was to eliminate all the bad guys through the use of his omnitrix (if you don’t know what this is then you must google it ASAP). He would throw all of them into some container like thing where they would never escape from. I’ve forgotten what it was called.
You are your own hero. You must have your mission. In my case, my mission is to do as much productive work as I can. I define productive work as the tasks and activities that are aligned to my goals, mission and vision, and either produce results, or have the potential to produce results that are aligned with my goals, mission and vision. My omnitrix is my planning system. That is what I use to fight the bad guys (distractions).
Here’s how my planning systems works
Chaos in your physical space = chaos in your mental space. Don’t argue with me, this is true. I try to make sure that there is (some sort of) order in my physical space.
If you keep your surroundings dirty then doing any meaningful work will be quite difficult. I don’t know why but this is quite true – in my life that is. I try to keep my physical space as clean as I can.
Every week, on Sunday, I plan for the next week. I first write down what worked & didn’t work that week, and then plan for the next week. Each day I take a quick peek at my tasks that need to get done. These tasks are in an interactive document. For now I’m using a simple Microsoft word document with three columns – 1 for the task name, the second for what needs to be done in simple stages and the third is for the comments. Let’s have an example:
Column 1 – Task Name: ORDER
Column 2 – Activities to be done:
- Order my Downloads Folder
- Order my Desktop
- Delete all files in the Recycling bin
Column 3 – Comments :
Order Recommendations – sort by file type, and avoid downloading what can be streamed online.
Listen to Good Content
The last thing that I do is that I surround myself by content that encourages me to keep using my time as efficiently as possible. Patrice Washington is a podcaster who gives well rounded advice on the topic of productivity in her podcast “Redefining Wealth”. She gets into the relationship, financial, spiritual, aspects of productivity (other people call it wealth, but to me it’s productivity. Wealth is a consequence of performing consistent productive actions). Amy Landino is a YouTuber who gives practical tips on how to help you create and optimize your planning schedule, helping you prioritize the tasks that are important to you. Rowena Tsai also does the same, and Vusi Thembekwayo gives you that motivation that makes you feel like going outside and lifting a mountain. Find people who do what you want to do, and who live the life that you want to live. See how they prioritize what is important to them. Copy that into your life.
Guard your time jealously. That is the only way that you can prioritize the things that are meaningful to you.
Note: This is an article from my personal website, www.maputionline.com where I run under the pseudonym "maputiatota" Feel free to head over to that site for more blogposts!