Prioritizing. What do I do first?


I think the reason I'm such a chronic procrastinator has more to do with not knowing which action to take as opposed to being lazy.

I tried to do the whole GTD thing a year ago, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life and it just went on and on and on and on:
Get better at guitar
Learn German
Read James Joyce's Ulysseus
Learn Japanese
Listen to the Frank Oceans discography
Listen to Frank Zappa's entire discography
Write a novella based on my last trip overseas
Create a script that automatically converts and neatly stores all my sound field recordings.
You see what I mean?

Now of course some of them are frivolous dreams, but I find even when I have a project, something I want to work on NOW and have a notion of a course of action and I have a pressing deadline, I never know where to start or the next step? because I think about all the things that need to be done, and it's like trying to find the start of a spiderweb, you just keep spiraling and spiraling... so I go on 4chan and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life.

How do you prioritize?
I try to do that "if you have something you can do in the next two minutes, do it now" thing, but after 10 minutes you're back where you started, plotting your next move.
Techniques? Self Interrogation/question techniques? Rules of thumb - anything will be welcome.

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interested too


I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I have a similar problem. My problem is that I sit around thinking about all the things I want to do and making lists of all the things I want to do, and then I look at the clock and go "well, time to get back to work" or whatever. Basically, I daydream my time away planning on what I'd LIKE to do but I have trouble executing it.

So what it really comes down to, is just fucking doing it. I've found myself extremely productive when I just sit down and do it. Sometimes that means turning my brain off a little bit, especially when it's a boring task like school or setting up business email clients etc.

Forget about the 10 minute crap etc if it's not immediately helpful to you. Instead, if you find yourself with an hour or two just sit down and do something you've been MEANING to do. You'll be that much further ahead when you're done. As far as prioritizing, only you can decide which things need to come first in your life.


Forget about the 10 minute crap etc if it's not immediately helpful to you. Instead, if you find yourself with an hour or two just sit down and do something you've been MEANING to do. You'll be that much further ahead when you're done. As far as prioritizing, only you can decide which things need to come first in your life.
You see that's the problem, I don't know which thing to sit down and do.

Even with a project, like I said it's like trying to find the start of a spiderweb,
Oh this whole thing hinges on X working properly
But I can't start X until I've finished Y
But I can't start Y because I don't know if I'm doing Z, W, or Q
Okay let's do W, let's just make a decision, oh...
oh, but actually I can't do W until I've finished X, so let's start Y, but Y actually needs me to know the full parameters of W, which... fuck it... I'm gonna go out with my friends

This happens to me on 80% of projects I'd say.

I may just over think everything so I see everything in my life as interdependent when it doesn't have to be, but it makes it excruuuuuuuciatingly difficult to work out what is the most immediate tasks I need to do


what you just described either isn't real or your approach to the project is fucked or your project isn't achievable in the first place.


You're totally wrong on both counts.


Basically what this anon said.

To be honest it sounds like one of two things:

You don't truly want to do the projects you're telling yourself you want to do

You are caught in a cycle of being lazy and don't know how to break that

I'm thinking it's probably the latter. Everyone gets lazy and stuck in a rut sometimes. Try to think of the world as ebb and flow. A person walking is more likely to stay in motion than a person sitting. Everything in life is accumulative. It will feel excruciating to start, but once you start, it will slowly get easier and easier until you find yourself doing so many things that you literally DON'T have time to fit it all in.

Reframe your mind about this "spiderweb" scenario. Think of the spider. How do they decide where to start their web? They don't. They just begin. Each web will be different. Sometimes they start at A, and the next web will begin on H, and so on. It is entirely possible to start at J and end up at A and Z on either end. The importance isn't where you begin, it's where you end.

Think of it this way:
You want to learn Japanese
Traditional thought would say to start at "A" which would be something like taking Japanese courses at your local community college
Do this for a couple years until you're proficient
You find yourself "fluent" in traditional language
Continue practice with a job that uses it
Perhaps you move to Japan to keep in practice and work there
You find yourself having to learn casual non traditional speech on top of your current understanding
Now you're fluent

However, there are many other paths that will lead you to the same result:

Start at "Z"
Move to Japan tomorrow
Forced to learn Japanese over the course of 1 year living there
Being immersed in the language and culture, you find yourself fluent enough to get by and live in the country

As you can see, sometimes the alternatives are also quicker, so don't dismiss it. Take whichever path feels right to you.


Post count too long -

To add:

The important part is simply starting. Everyone's life path is different, and even if you choose to start at "H" instead of A or Z, you will find your way, YOUR WAY. Try not to compare yourself to others, and try to simply be the best version of you that you can be. Don't get hung too hung up on where life begins or you'll be at the end of it before it does.


I want to say I really appreciate the effort you've gone to help me, but obviously I didn't explain myself clearly enough.

The decision making, the prioritization is my problem. I can't evaluate which activities deserve my time and attention most.
So I have analysis paralysis.

So you've taken the example of learning Japanese, yep great... sure... but even reaching that point of choosing Japanese over German, over Russian or whatever is a struggle because I don't know which one is going to be more beneficial to my career while simultaneously being the most realistic for me to learn.

Do you understand?

It's like, I have a very, crystal clear idea of 10 years from now where I want to be, who I want to be, but there is no roadmap to get there.
Screw the examples I used, as I just didn't want to get personal these are literally the things in my life right now:
I need to learn to get and solicit clients, and get customers
I need to learn how to negotiate, to get investors
I need to learn either French or German (it's one of the two)
I need to have more self confidence
I need to have a personal brand relevant and respected in my industry
Do I get that personal brand through a roundabout way, such as blogging? or doing Youtube videos? Or do I crawl up from the bottom of the industrial hierarchy and try and make it into the position I want to be in 10 years?
Do I try and shortcut there now, and just solicit investors to do the projects that I want to be doing at my goal?
Do I do the "traditional route", trying to earn awards, playing the conventional game -- knowing I don't have the financial resources other in my position have?
Do I get a full time job to fund my dream or do I earn less and spend more time building my profile?

Do you see? Decision making and prioritizing. Which of these do I make my priority NOW?
How do I evaluate which is the right path for me?


How old are you anon?

I understand exactly what you're saying. Your problems to solve are different than mine but the underlying cause is the same thing. As you describe, it is analysis paralysis. I am constantly trying to calculate (both literally and mentally) which move now will put me where I want to be in 10 years. I also have a long term vision of where I will be/want to be. As if life is a giant game of chess, I often obsess and calculate and try to control my destiny to assure that I end up where I envision myself in 10 years.

I am 26, nearly 27. I think when you ask yourself questions such as:
do I get a full time job to fund my dream or do I earn less and spend more time building my profile

You have to honestly sit down and do some soul searching. Figure out what is important to you right now at this very moment (is it a car? A gf? Traveling while you're young? Etc). Then, figure out where you want to be in one year. Then two. Then 5. Then 10. Make an actual list of both tangible real world items and investments you want, but make sure to pay attention to where you want to be as a human as well. Think about investing in things that will make you a better person even if your plan fails and you become poor or homeless.

I think if you search within yourself and start by identifying these things and living authentitically (if you aren't already) then you can start to have a better grasp on setting up a moderate plan and making decisions in which directions to take will become easier.

Planning is not wrong. Sometimes we do have to let go a little bit and look at life as a journey rather than a destination, though. The irony is that in simply making a choice, you are furthering your journey, and often that choice will lead you to another path. I.e. You pick to learn French, and you end up getting a job translating French in Germany and end up instead learning German and now you know both. Great things will happen when you're ready for them.


read cal newport. all of it.


You see what I mean?

I was an avid reader.
When I walked in a library I thought:
I wish I had the time to read them all.
Few years later
stopped reading

My point is that emotions are fickle. Focus on money.


Hey OP.

I wrote out a long post then deleted it because it could've been summarised in a few sentences. Here goes:

1) Go through your to-do list, and, item by item, ask why. Like a pestering child, ask why you wrote it. Be brutally honest. This should help you prioritise the more important tasks.

2) Read this article:
Then re-read it. And re-read it again. Apply what's in the article and it should detangle your 'spiders web'. The key here, is application. I check over this article a lot, but I also do at least an hour of learning, daily.

That's it. Before I started learning, I went through the article, wrote myself questions, and answered them. That way I could justify that what I was doing was right for me. The curriculum I've devised isn't perfect, but that doesn't matter. It can be refined. The point is that you start before you can see the finish.


How is this Veeky Forums related?


I found this website.. looks decent enough. if you guys have a look and let me know. if you like it please use my referal link so i can make money :) thanks


Googled, will report back.

Fair enough, but I put it to you: how do I evaluate which method of money making is most efficient and/or profitable for me?

Be brutally honest. This should help you prioritize the more important tasks.
I more or less did that with my last post, I was using those as examples because I could get into the minutia of ways I struggle to make decisions but it'd be a hell of a lot more difficult to explain.

Apply what's in the article and it should detangle your 'spiders web'.
I get stuck at point 1.

"When are you most likely to persevere in your attempt to learn a new skill? You’re most likely to persevere when the skill meets the following criteria:"
"It’s something that you’re passionate about; and
Learning the skill will help you to solve a problem that you’re having, or it applies directly to your life."

So is it Marketing, Negotiation, selling and competing sales, French or German, soliciting clients, soliciting investors, business finance, Public Relations, social media marketing and SEO that I should be learning right now?

Actually the real skill I need right now is the skill to make those decisions in a timely manner, hence this thread.

Priorities and time management are essential skills in project management, strategy execution, and decisive decision making is a mark of leadership.


I guess I should apologize for sounding so obstinate,I agree with a lot of what you're saying but it's not really relevant to me now, because I know what I want in the long run, and I can't get out of that chess game paradigm because I've spent my time floating through, expecting that if I did what I love eventually success would come to me.

But here I am.

I just want to fix my prioritizing problems, fix my time management analysis paralysis.
This is something that can help me even in the minutia stuff like which party do I go to tonight, or which part of the project I should put first, all the way up to the macro like which skills I plough all my effort and time into acquiring to get closer to my dream, which opportunities or jobs do I take.


bro, let me save you some time.

Learning german is pointless. I learned it because I was told germans are looking for mechanical engineers, a meme...

Besides, all of west Germany speaks perfect english. fuck frivolous dreams.

you prioritize by deleting 75% of the stuff on your todo list.


Learning something out of self interest instead of what other people want from you is totally different


You're point is taken, but if I move to Germany, *IF*.
I will learn German, because it'll just make things easier in everyday life.

you prioritize by deleting 75% of the stuff on your todo list.
already did that here


You say you know exactly where you want to be in 10 years. You also say you don't know the first step. Only one of these can be true.

Tell us where you want to be, and where you are now. Then we might be able to help you better.


Typical suburbie hits 20's list grow up kiddo your priorities are garbage that's why not even you can stand doing them

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