I’m so psyched about today’s topic because this past week, I’ve noticed that social media has been buzzing with questions about focus, productivity and overcoming procrastination.
Today we’re going to prioritize like a champ. While the focus is on children, I’ve made it pretty actionable for adults too so don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Let’s face it! I’m the queen of urgent. What about you?
- I have a paper due tomorrow? I’ll pull an all-nighter.
- There’s news about a celebrity that I follow? I’m on every social media platform possible. I mean, it may not pop up in my news feed later, so I have to get right on it.
You see? There’s a huge issue with how many of us, especially children, prioritize. If it’s urgent, we’re there because there’s an immediate deadline. If it’s important, it’ll depend on if it’s urgent or not.
Here’s what I mean. If I have a paper due tomorrow morning for class, it’s urgent because if I don’t do it, I’m not going to do well in that class. However, if it’s due in two weeks, it’s important for my grades but it’s not urgent, so there’s no real need to worry about it right away. So I might put it off until it becomes urgent.
Why do we do that?
Urgent gives many of us an awesome adrenaline rush, it adds in a dash of drama and it gives us a sense of purpose- we’re needed.
So when that phone rings or someone texts you, you’ll be there.
The Difference Between Urgent and Important.
When something is urgent, it’s often related to other people’s goals- not our own. When something is important, it’s usually related to our own dreams and goals.
The problem that most children and even adults struggle with, is that when something is important, it requires us to have some ounce of self-discipline because we need to be self-starters. As a result, it’s often easy to push this off until later, when we no longer have time for it or it does become an urgent factor in our lives and then we have to rush to get it done.
Have you ever rushed to complete a task? Is it your best work? You may think you work well under pressure and perhaps you do, but are you really putting in as much effort as you could to produce your best work?
I remember pulling all-nighters with my assignments. By the time it was 4am, I could barely see straight, let alone finish writing…. And who had time to proofread or come up with a creative way to present it? Right?
We’ve got to get a way from that.
Now you’ll hear people telling you create your “To-Do” lists and I am 100% behind that, but that list will really get you no where if you’re just going to write it down and then hope to get to it. For some, this will work, but for most of us, we need more. So, let’s get into the actionable part of this lesson.
What Do You Need?
You’ll need the following planner (IT’S FREE), a pencil and coloured pens or highlighters, so grab those as well. We’ve got to have some fun, right?
If you’re new here, you can get access to the planner by clicking: HERE!
If you’re a part of the Colourful Teaching For You community, get access to the planner by clicking: HERE!
Alright! Let’s do this!
Whether you work with or have children, or you don’t, this will work for you. If you work with or have children, please teach this to them.
So, let’s start with that to do list.
Step 1: Write down your list.
Step 2: Put a “U” besides everything that urgent
Step 3: Highlight everything that’s important (important to you- it will make your life better or propel you forward … say academically or professionally).
- The reason you’re highlighting this, is because I want this part of the list to really stand out to you. If you’re children are doing this, have them choose a bright highlighter (preferably a colour they like).
Step 4: Move all of your important tasks to a new page or write it at the bottom of that page and fold it over so that your focus is on that. Before you write it down though, Divide your page into two columns. Under column one, write down your important tasks. Under column two, you’re going to create urgency. Why? Because if you don’t do this, you’ll automatically want to do the urgent tasks first. Here’s an example of how to create urgency. Create a deadline for yourself.
- I’m going to pretend that I’m a student for a moment. If I have an assignment due in 2 weeks, this is important but not urgent. So, in column one, I’m going to write down that I need to work on my introduction by Saturday at 8:30pm. Today, I’m going to spend 1 hour working on the outline. If your children are capable of this, let them time themselves working and as we talked about last week, they get an incentive after. However, if your child cannot do this, you may need to help them with it.
- Now, based on this step alone, I’m sure you’ve figured out that important is rarely fun. This is why you’re going to be timing the tasks and providing them with an incentive…. It creates that urgency- that adrenalin rush or drama, and it also gives them something to look forward after.
- So create urgency for all of your goals.
Step 5: Spend at least 1-2 hours every day or every couple of days working on this list. THEN AND ONLY THEN DO YOU GET TO MOVE ON TO STEP 6. As your children work on their important tasks, here are some ways to help keep them focused:
- It’s also essential, especially in regards to children, to teach them to focus on WHY the task is important to their lives. When they truly understand the WHY and see how it will benefit them, this can develop a level of interest and excitement for the task instead of them seeing it as a chore to be completed. If this is a long-term goal, I’d recommend having them draw it out and post it someone in front of their work space so that they are always reminded of the WHY (this also caters to different forms of understanding why the task is important)
- I would also recommend putting all distractions, such as cellphones away- in another room with the ringtone on low or vibrate so that it doesn’t distract your child.
- My last tip for increasing the way your children approach and stay focused on an important task is by integrating some white noise, such as music. This will not be appropriate for all children though as some of them prefer the silence, so CHECK IN WITH YOU CHILD FIRST before adding this step.
Step 6: Work on your urgent tasks. These you’ll naturally work on so you don’t need to do anything special for them.
Now, let me make one thing clear. For your list, you get to make it. For your children’s list, they should create theirs. This will give them ownership over their learning or chores and will serve as a motivator. In fact, for your young ones, have them decorate it so that it really becomes their work.
If you have children who have ADHD, this is a great method to use, but please make sure, as you would with any child, explain and re-explain to them to difference between what’s urgent and what’s important.
If you’re a teacher, like me, you probably have people coming in and out of your room all of the time because there’s always something that’s required of you. I use this method to prioritize the tasks for the day so that I am not always saying “yes” to everything.
Parents and homeschooling parents, this goes for you too because your time is never really your own until your little ones go to sleep and even then, you have a multitude of tasks to do.
In today’s world, EVERYTHING IS URGENT. So really understand the difference between urgent and important and create urgency with your important tasks because these tasks are rarely exciting but are so important to the betterment of your life.
So Let’s Recap:
- We talked about the difference between important and urgent work, and its relevance in our lives.
- We looked at how to create a plan that focuses on important work with a touch of urgency and how to teach it our children and use it in our own lives. In six steps:
- Create your to do list
- Write a U beside the urgent tasks
- Highlight the important tasks
- Write down those tasks on a separate piece of paper and create urgency for each of them.
- Spend 1-2 hours working on them (remember to integrate the timing & incentive method for your children)
- Once you’ve spent some time on your important work, only then should you work on your urgent tasks
Now it’s your turn. If you haven’t already done so, I’d like you to start creating your list. In fact, get rid of the title, To DO List and call it something fun and let it motivate you, like “I’m A Champ” because I am.
If you haven’t already done so, remember to grab your FREE Prioritize Like A Champ Planner.
If you liked this video and blog post, my other YouTube videos or the free training video, then you are going to LOVE this course EVEN MORE.
Because we’re going to start right from the very beginning and move through all of the different planning stages right to independent learning.
You already know that I LOVE providing actionable steps, well in this course, you’ll be getting a planner with all of the templates that you need, along with a hands-on approach, where I’m actually going to be SHOWING YOU HOW TO DO IT. I’ve never liked people just telling me what to do, so I’m going to do the exercises with you.
I’ve even added BONUSES in the way of savings, a private community, and a way to help YOU kick overwhelm to the curb.
The course will open on March 30th, but if you pre-enroll by March 28th at 11:59pm PST, I’m cutting the price to 50% off for $63.50. Since you’ll have lifetime access to it, whenever I update it, you’ll instantly have access to it. All I ask, is for your feedback as you go through the course. The price will increase but if you sign-up after that date,
Alright my friend, thank so much for joining me. I hope to see you at the course.
Thank you so much my friends. In the mean time, remember to create, experience and teach from the heart.
All my best,