How I Prioritise

imac, ipad, desk and calendar

 

Yesterday I forgot to post a blog post. Totally forgot.

I actually, really, honestly forgot what day it was.

This last week I’ve been juggling work with a side project, some CPD, OU coursework (it’s been submission week for an assessment) and panto rehearsals (meaning no chance for coursework on an evening). And all while still being slightly ill. Really, it’s no wonder my brain is fried.

So how come I forgot what day it was yesterday? I spent the whole day baking for our theatre group’s junior members’ Halloween party. I’d finished my latest batch of work and just ploughed on with what needed to be done. I suppose I’ve got so used to prioritising that I automatically ditched what wasn’t urgent.

I don’t usually forget what day it is, but I do usually prioritise my week if I know it’s going to be a busy one.

Don't Panic

So, in case any of you find this remotely useful, this is how I prioritise and manage to get everything done (usually!), when the working week is going to be a tight one.

  1. Figure out what you have to do during the week. Include your non-worky work, as this will need to be included.

 

Copy edit of 100,000 book

Copy edit of 80,000 book

Proofread of a brochure

Coursework

CPD

Rehearsals

Party

Baking for the party

Blog article to write

Personal side project

 

  1. Then jot down your projects along with the time needed to complete them.

For example, you might have a large project that will take another couple of weeks, a large project that has a deadline of the end of the week, a small project that will take a couple of hours, some coursework that is ongoing, and some CPD that you are working through.

 

Proofread of a brochure –  3 hrs work needed asap

Copy edit of 80,000 book – deadline end of this week

Coursework – assignment due next Monday

Blog article to write – to be posted on Friday

Copy edit of 100,000 book – deadline in 2 weeks

CPD – ongoing

Personal side project – ongoing

Rehearsals – Monday, Wed, Thursday evening, Sunday afternoon  2–4 hrs (non-negotiable)

Party – Friday evening

Baking for the party – must be done Friday (non-negotiable)

pencil and notebook

  1. Next jot down the tasks in order of importance – they aren’t necessarily the ones that will take longest. Their importance will also be affected by a rigid timeframe.

 

Rehearsals – Monday, Wed, Thursday evening, Sunday afternoon (non-negotiable)

Party – Friday evening (non-negotiable)

Baking for the party – must be done Friday (non-negotiable)

Proofread of a brochure – 3 hrs work needed asap

Copy edit (1) of 80,000 book – deadline end of this week

Coursework – assignment due next Monday

Copy edit of (2) 100,000 book – deadline in 2 weeks

Blog article to write – to be posted on Friday

CPD – ongoing

  1. Once you have all the information you need you can, even if it’s just in your head, prioritise your tasks and section up your week.

This is how I would prioritise the examples I’ve been using:

  • Rehearsals, party and the baking cannot be moved. Add them to your calendar first.
  • Proofread the brochure on Monday, get it out of the way.
  • Figure out how long it will take to finish the 80,000 edit (1) with the end of the week deadline. For example you may have 30,000 words left, plus the final read through, for this job it would take 10 hours for the edit and 3 hrs for the final pass = 13 hrs.
  • Figure out how long it will take to finish the 100,000 edit (2) with the 2 week deadline. For example, you have 50,00 words left, which will take 17 hours plus 3 hours for the final pass over the next two weeks.
  • Set aside the hours needed for the edits. Add them to your calendar, remembering to discount Friday. Remember to add some contingency time each day.
  • Once you have your work times noted fit in some coursework according to how many hours you think you’ll need.
  • Fit in some CPD where you can.
  • Find time for your blog article.

pen, calendar, appointment

  1. Stick it all on your calendar, or in your head, and work your way through the week. If things slide you now know what is the most important and what can be caught up on.
Monday 9–12 brochure LUNCH 1–5 edit (1) Rehearsals
Tuesday 9–12 edit (1) LUNCH 1–5 edit (2) coursework
Wednesday 9–12 edit (1) LUNCH 1–5 edit (1) Rehearsals
Thursday 9-1 edit (2) LUNCH 2–5 CPD & coursework Rehearsals & blog post
Friday Baking Day     Party
Saturday coursework      
Sunday CPD coursework Rehearsals  

 

You’ll notice I left an extra hour to finish off edit 1, just in case something cropped up and if needed this could creep into Thursday afternoon.

Edit two only took up 8 hours this week. It will now be the priority for next week, with 12 hours left to completion.

I also moved coursework and some CPD to the weekend. I don’t normally work weekends, and I don’t count CPD as work if it’s self-led.

 

Once you have priorities in your head it’s easier to see where there is a leeway. My week wasn’t exactly like this, but very similar. I often write my blog posts during lunch or on a Thursday evening, but this week it just didn’t happen. I did get my work done though, along with my coursework. CPD, as it’s ongoing is less important and can be allowed to slide, as can the side project which is something I’m doing when I get the time.

 

So that’s how I prioritise my working week when things get tight and I need to timetable my work. Usually I don’t need to be so drastic but sometimes, when I have too much to do, I need a little structure in my life to help me cope.

 

How do you work? Do you prioritise things differently?

 

4 thoughts on “How I Prioritise

  1. Aaaggghhhh! I feel stressed just reading your schedule! Wow, Sara, you really seem to have it sussed! And all the while still being ill – sorry to hear that, btw. I hope you get better soon. Great article.

    • Don’t feel stressed, my schedule wasn’t actually that bad, I only had one editing job to finish, rather than two 😉
      My evenings, coursework etc were the same though. I’m actually used to all the juggling, the party just threw a spanner in the works this week.
      Right now I’m relaxing and watching Vertigo, so all is well x

      • I am relieved! You are juggling lots – especially with those rehearsals! And baking is something just takes up a lot of time. As does partying. It’s no wonder you lost track of the days, you poor thing, especially being under the weather. I do enjoy reading your articles, Sara, when I get the time. 🙂 x PS. Nothing like a good old Hitchcock film to curl up on the couch for. xx

      • Well the kids enjoyed the party and it’s only once a year. The rehearsal schedule is pretty standard throughout the year so I’m well used to it, as is the coursework.
        I do manage to relax every now and then 😉 (and Vertigo is a brilliant film!)

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