One of the key lessons of time management is prioritizing your tasks. The suggested way is to work on your most important tasks first.
Executing these tasks takes you closer to your goals and obviously they should be prioritized to the top of your task list.
However, there are also tasks that you have to do, but which are not related to your goals, thus their importance level is not that high.
These tasks are called everyday tasks and they include for example cleaning your home, mowing the lawn, fixing your bicycle, mailing a letter to your relative, buying a gift for your god son for his birthday, replacing the light bulbs in your kitchen etc.).
Although these kinds of tasks are not on the top of anyone’s task list, they still have to be done at some point. The question goes, when and how do you take care of them? Is it right now, at the end of the day, later next week or some other time?
Ask these two questions first to define the order
a) Does it affect the quality of your life someway?
One way to figure out the prioritization of these kinds of tasks is to understand if they affect the quality of your life in some way.
For example, if all of a sudden the lights went out in your kitchen, it is very difficult for you to cook and make dinner for yourself or for your family. It is obvious, that you have to fix the problem.
Although this task is not directly related to your goals, it is related to your family’s well-being at some level. You can probably still cook in the kitchen but the shared moments in the kitchen (eating together) are disturbed because of this annoyance.
When to execute this kind of task:
If the task has major effects on the quality of your life, take care of it right now. If the task is not that urgent, it can wait a bit and it can be scheduled for later execution (but not too long in the future).
Things that have major effects on the quality of your life:
- Electricity went out in your home
- Your car is broken and you have to go to work the next day (your job is 20 kilometers/2 miles away from your home)
- You’ve burnt the food on the stove and you have to ventilate your home
Things that have a minor effect on the quality of your life:
- Lights went off in your living room – you have to fix the fuse
- The outdoor of your home is keeping creaky sound when you open it or close it – you need to oil the pivots
- You bicycle tires have low on air pressure – you have to pump in some air
“If the task has major effects on the quality of your life, take care of it right now. If the task is not that urgent, it can wait a bit and it can be scheduled for later execution (but not too long in the future).
b) Is it a task with a deadline?
Another question to ask yourself is, if this is a task with a deadline?
In many cases, even in those less-important tasks there is a built-in deadline too. For example, if you have a bill to pay, it has a due date and the bill has to be handled in a timely manner to avoid additional penalties.
This was an example of a hard deadline. The date is “set in stone” and there isn’t really much to do about it. Just take care of the task before the due date and everything is going to be fine.
Another type of deadline is included in a task like taking care of your garage’s organization. There isn’t any exact date to get it done – still you want to get the task done at some point, like before the summer ends.
Whether it is organizing your garage, cleaning your home or going to the grocery store, these tasks do not have a clear deadline. Yet they are objectives on your task list and they are taken care of – sooner or later.
In these situations, a soft deadline is applied. You know that you want to get this task done at some point, but there are not penalties or such involved (because there is no due date).
When to execute this kind of task:
In my opinion, a task – whether it is more or less strict with its deadlines – should be taken care of as soon as possible.
However, I understand that it is not always possible to do that and you have to figure out the best schedule depending on your situation.
I have kept the following as a guideline: If the task has a hard deadline (for example paying a bill), I tend to take care of it the same day if possible. If the task has a soft deadline, I set a schedule for it for later execution.
Things that have a hard deadline on them:
- Paying your bills
- Paying the taxes
Things that have a soft deadline on them:
- Organizing your garage – before the summer ends
- Cleaning your home
- Going to the grocery store to buy more food
“If the task has a hard deadline (for example paying a bill), I tend to take care of it the same day if possible. If the task has a soft deadline, I set a schedule for it for later execution.
Additional tips for executing everyday tasks
1. Make a list
If you have plenty of tasks to do, it helps to write down a list. It is easier for you to see all the different tasks at glance and perhaps define the order, date or if multiple tasks can be handled at once – by batching.
The tracking of executed tasks becomes easier, because you can cross the task off your list once it’s done.
2. Schedule them
One very important way of handling everyday tasks is to schedule them. Obviously, if the task requires your immediate attention, then you have to deal with it right away. Otherwise, schedule this task for later execution (same day at certain time or a certain date in the future).
3. Do tasks in batches
Whatever the task type may be (important, less important) it helps to get the similar ones done in batches.
You get more things done this way and the less you have to worry about the number of tasks on your list.
4. Try to do them outside your defined time blocks
To work towards your goals, you need to have a schedule to follow. This kind of schedule is created by blocking out some hours off your calendar (on a daily basis). During these hours you work only on your most important tasks – and nothing else.
However, when an everyday task comes up and it has to be handled, try to get these kinds of tasks done outside your defined time blocks.
For example, I have blocked out certain hours of the day for building my online business and I don’t want to do anything else – just those tasks that are related to this activity.
Don’t let the everyday tasks interrupt your dedicated time blocks.
5. Delegate or outsource them
Finally, consider outsourcing your everyday tasks if possible. Even if it costs some money, the time saving benefits are worth it.
For example, me and my wife hired a windows washer for our home last spring. Even if it cost us money (and we could have done the task by ourselves), it saved lots of our time and energy.
There are tasks in our everyday life, which require our attention. Although executing them wont take us closer to our goals, these tasks have to be taken care of at some point.
I hope that this post was able to give you some ideas on how to prioritize and execute non-goal related tasks the efficient way.
It’s your turn now!
- How do you handle everyday tasks – discussed in this post?
- What additional tips do you have for efficiently handling everyday tasks?
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