How to deal with the chaos of everyday life when you are short of time? -

“Well, I haven’t had time for what was most important today, but for sure, tomorrow I’ll take care of it!” “. This is often what we can say to each other at the end of the day, after having spent hours urgently jumping in an emergency, to end up not having had time for the task at the top of our to-do. list. This task that we know to be the most important, but for which we have not found time for too long already …

We have so much to do that what matters most is drowned in everyday emergencies, and ends up collecting dust in our to-do list.

Often, what prevents us from completing for good these tasks that would move us forward, is that we consider that everything is important. We mistakenly think that we “must” do too many things and that everything is a priority (so nothing is a priority).

Yet, taking a step back, we realize that only a small handful of our actions are really essential. This is the famous Pareto law: 20% of our actions are responsible for 80% of our results.

“Lack of time is nothing more than a lack of priorities. – Tim Ferris.

The remedy for lack of time (and being overwhelmed all day long) is to accept that you can’t do everything. By prioritizing, we can regain control of our days and our to-do list, and make as much progress as possible.

In the following lines, we will see some simple strategies to focus on what matters the most and manage to make ends meet with the satisfaction of having made good progress.

# 1. Limit your priorities

The first thing to do is therefore to clearly define our priorities. To finish each day having progressed well, we must know each day which is the most important priority that would make us make the most progress. Not the 36 things we could put on our to-do list for the day just to hope to complete half of it.

Because when you find yourself in front of a 30-item to-do list, what happens? We choose the fastest and easiest tasks, rather than the difficult tasks we would need to do the most.

For this, the first strategy is simple: identify the 3 most important things (maximum) that one should do. List all the things that are important to you, prioritize them, pick the three that matter most, and prioritize them.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the most important of all the things I can do?
  • What gives me the majority of my results?
  • What do I need to do the most to get ahead?

Clear up these three priorities and focus your time and energy on them before anything else. No matter the rest, as long as you get ahead on the three most important things, you are sure to make progress.

# 2. Eliminate important things

To move faster, we often look for what to do more to accomplish more and save time. But often what is most effective in making us move faster is to do less things.

Rather than bulking up an already overcrowded to-do list, try instead to empty it of unimportant things that take up too much space.

It’s difficult because it feels like too much is important. But it is precisely these things that seem important to us that distract us the most from what is even more so.

James Clear talks about the cost of the opportunity: our time, energy and attention are finite resources. By deciding to invest them on certain tasks (which are perhaps important), it costs us the possibility of investing them on other things (which could be even more).

“There can only be one most important thing. Several things can be important, but only one can be the most important. – Gary Keller

A good strategy to use here is Warren Buffett’s two-list strategy. The idea is to list all the projects that we think are important and put them in two lists: the first with the 3 to 5 most important priorities and the second with everything else. The first list becomes the list of our priorities, nothing crazy. But more importantly: the second becomes the list of things to avoid above all else.

Because even if we are used to setting priorities, we often get stuck on this step. The simple fact of putting a few tasks at the top of a to-do list is useless if we are not ready to really prioritize priorities and ignore the other tasks (which are the ones we divert the most from top-priorities).

Prioritizing involves abandoning tasks that are not priorities. To make sure you get there and stay 100% focused on what’s most important, make your list of things to avoid above all else.

# 3. 3 techniques to end your days and be satisfied with your progress

But even with very clear priorities, our brains are terribly bad at estimating the time that our tasks will take us (it is the law of Hofstadter which says it). We tend to be overly optimistic in planning our days and not having time to do everything we plan to do.

To avoid this trap, there are a few simple techniques you can put in place to get the most out of each day.

The rule of 3

We talked about it above, we can also use it on a daily basis. Plan 3 priorities that you absolutely must complete every day. The rest of our to-do list is a bonus. If we manage to complete these 3 most important tasks, we can end the day satisfied, knowing that the most important tasks that we could do to move forward have been completed.

Eat that damn frog!

That said, everyday emergencies will always be around us, waiting for the slightest sign of weakness. The most productive habit to make to make sure you have time for the things that matter most is to eat your frog every morning:

“If your job is to eat a frog, you better have it the first thing you do in the morning. “- Mark Twain

The habit of eating your frog is to start each day with the most important, direct task to make sure you have time to work on it each day.

Decide in advance on the single most important task of the day and make an appointment with it every morning. Block a specific time slot in your calendar dedicated to your frog and nothing else, and stick to it strictly. No matter the emergencies and the unexpected, you have an appointment, the rest will have to wait until the appointment is over.


A very simple technique that can save us a lot of time every day is the batching technique: grouping similar tasks to complete them all at once, rather than doing them one by one, in a dropper. .

Because you can interrupt tasks that count to switch to other completely different things countless times a day. The bad news is that every change in task costs our brains time, attention, and energy (limited resources) to fully refocus.

But if you group similar tasks together to complete them all at once, at specific times, you can save a lot of time and complete them much faster.

Write down all the tasks you do every day and week, group the ones that are similar, and schedule a specific time to complete them all in one go. For example, schedule a single 30-minute window each day to answer your emails rather than checking them 20 times a day.

To summarize ?

  1. Limit your priorities. Identify the few things that are most important so you know each day which is the most important priority that will make you make the most progress.
  2. Eliminate important things. Prioritize priorities and ignore other tasks even if they seem important to you.
  3. Give yourself 3 priorities (maximum) per day. Plan the 3 priorities that you absolutely must complete every day and consider the rest of your to-do list as a bonus.
  4. Eat your frog. Decide in advance on the single most important task of the day and make an appointment with it every morning.

That being said, it is not all to have very clear priorities. You also need to organize and plan them well to give yourself the best possible chance of reaching them.

Click here to find out how and to find out if you’re a big loser. (after Scott Adams)