As new tasks come at you, keep your top goals in mind.

When you’ve got to stay on top of lots of different tasks in your job, sometimes it’s the biggest priorities that get lost in the shuffle. As little fires erupt around you, you fall into a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode. Sooner or later we all fall into that trap. It is really easy to go down that rabbit hole of keeping up, rather than staying ahead.

If you want to be productive and organized, it behooves you to set aside time to really consider how to spend your time. When life or work gets hectic, it’s helpful to take a step back, even for just five minutes, and refocus. Ask yourself: am I doing the things that will really move my life and my business forward? What are those things? What are those priorities? How can I set aside time to do those things?

Set your goals. It’s easiest to set aside time at the very beginning of the day specifically to review your priorities and make sure that you’ve set aside time on your calendar to focus on those. Even if you do that for just one thing that is important to you, it is far better than not doing it at all. At least you know that even in the midst of juggling all the different balls you have in the air, you’ve got some time set aside for the things that are really, truly important to you either intrinsically or for your business. Taking that time to assess your priorities will help to cut down the reactive responses to everything coming your way.

Review your accomplishments. Often when we get in that reactive mode it is really easy to start procrastinating. One way to procrastinate is to occupy yourself with busywork. And the next thing you know, the whole day has gone by and you don’t even have the concept of how you’ve spent your time. You were doing stuff, but what did you do? One way to get control over that is to take a moment at the end of the day to review all that you did. Make a list of all you did—really write it down. This list will have two results: first, you’ll see that you did accomplish something, which is great; more importantly, you’ll see on paper how much time you’re spending on high-priority tasks vs. less important duties, and you can then refocus your energies tomorrow.

Schedule your day productively. One result of making that list is that at the end of the day, you might realize that you never did the main thing you set out to do! That often happens because we pack our days too fully. We schedule things too closely back to back so that there is no buffer for things that might come up. At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes we haven’t scheduled enough. We’ve left too much time for the reactive mode. You have to find that right balance so that you’ve made sure to get to those things that are your top priorities. For some people what works is doing their top priority first thing in the day before they answer the phone, check email, or anything else. Others like to do it at the end of the day after they have shut down their email for the day.

Author's Bio: 

Joshua Zerkel, CPO® is a the founder of Custom Living Solutions, a San Francisco-based productivity and organizing consulting firm, specializing in helping busy people save time, space and money by getting organized at home and at work. For more FREE organizing ideas, visit or call 415-830-6345.