Prioritizing Your To-Do List

By Maddy Miller
Distinguished Young Woman of Nebraska for 2013

Do you ever have those moments when you feel so stressed out with your daily tasks that your head is spinning? You have classes, homework, papers, work, laundry, working out, and trying to squeeze in a social life. How do you balance it all? This past weekend I found myself confronted with this issue of “too much stuff and too little time”. I was just wishing that there could be a few more hours in the day for me to get it all done. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen so I buckled down, got organized, and began to tackle my lengthy to-do list. Here are some things that I do to get my work done in a timely and stress-free manner.

  1. Sit down and make a list of all the things you would like to get accomplished. This primary list does not need to be in any order (you will do that later).
  2. Set a time frame you would like to finish these items by. Perhaps it is a list for just the day, the weekend or maybe even the week. I prefer to make daily to-do lists as they are much easier to organize and tackle.
  3. Which items are urgent? Do you need to finish your chemistry homework by tomorrow? Or is it due next Friday? Label the items with a star that you need to accomplish right away. If you have a long list you can label each item with an “H” for highly urgent, “M” for moderately urgent, and “S” for somewhat urgent.
  4. Start to organize. Now create a new list ordering your tasks. Take into account which items are urgent and how long they will take. For example: If reading a chapter for English will only take you 30 minutes, perhaps you will do that item first and do your five page paper after your English homework. Or maybe you like to read late at night and you want to spend a few hours in the morning writing your paper. When it comes to prioritizing you have to really think about your personal preference while remembering which items are urgent. If you want to get really organized you can even write what time of the day you will accomplish each item. This may be helpful for college students who have classes at various times throughout the day.
  5. Cross that item off the list! Once you complete a task on your list take a marker and cross it off! Maybe this is just me but when I look at a to-do list with everything crossed off I feel so accomplished!! This also helps you keep track of how much and what you have finished. Try it out!
  6. Remember to make time in your schedule to relax. This is extremely important. Be sure that you allow time in your day to relax and take a break from school work or daily tasks. Take an hour or so to get lunch with friends or take a walk even if you have a lot on your to-do list. If you do this you will be able focus more easily when trying to complete your tasks. If you don’t take time to relax you may find yourself becoming distracted when trying to complete tasks.

Try out these simple tips the next time you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Our lives can become hectic, but if we stay organized and prioritize we can easily get our work done and be stress-free!
Maddy Miller is a college freshman at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania majoring in Dance with a Jazz concentration. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Maddy was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Nebraska for 2013. Learn more about Maddy here!

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