The Key to Successful Planning is Prioritizing

How do you prioritize a list that’s way too long?  

Really? How can you be organized when there is so much to do? The overwhelm of just thinking about all the “stuff” on your plate can cause you to quit before you even begin. The key is to prioritize that list!

But, figuring out what is most important for you and your family reminds me of a busy mom cleaning up a room and the toddler is coming behind her and messing it up as quickly as she is cleaning. You take care of one thing and another thing pops onto the list. Don’t look behind you: disorder again! How does that happen? 

Prioritizing can be painless! 

If you know that you know that you need to prioritize the things that you do, then you are ready for the surprisingly easy way to do that. It’s only hard when you look at the whole list at one time. It’s overwhelming when you don’t have a proper order of importance. I’m going to show you how to categorize your list so that you can break it up into manageable actions and decisions. 

Prioritizing is quicker than you think!

The first step takes about ten minutes. Make it quick: don’t get bogged down with details. Then, download and print or fill in your FREE Priority Grid worksheet first.  

I’ve made a free printable that is also fillable so you can follow along with me. You can save the original and copy it every day.  You will find it in the library along with other freebies that will help your organized life. Subscribers get all that for free!

organize and prioritize with a fillable freebie
Prioritize Quickly with This Simple Exercise

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Check out the first post in this series: How to Start Your Homeschool Day Right With This Easy Checklist.

It comes with a FREEBIE too! An easy checklist to help you get your day off to a great start. You will be surprised at how it will help.


Here’s how to make your priorities list quickly and you’re gonna LOVE your new day!

Begin your priority list by starting with just one day. Once you get the hang of it, you can repeat the process daily or for longer periods of time, such as a week. You can also adapt the method to prioritize tasks related to an event that has lots of parts. 

Use the easy and quick graphic I give you so that you can determine what needs to happen in one particular day. With this worksheet, you can quickly and easily determine what definitely needs to be done and what is most important for you and your family. Then, you can filter out activities that can either wait or simply not be done. And that can be a total game changer! 

Step One

Look at the printable “Priorities” worksheet, or you can fill it in online. 

  1. You can see that there are 4 boxes on the card, making two columns and two rows. You could make your own, but why not get mine so you can do this on your device or print out a master copy that you can use over and over? 
  1. Label the left column at the top with the word, “Urgent”. Label the right column with the word, “Not Urgent”. 
  1. Now turn the card sideways so you can label the top row as, “Important”. Label the bottom row as, “Not important”. (See my example that I send to you free.) 
  1. Turn your card so you are looking at all the boxes. You should see two descriptions for each box. 

Step Two

Make a master list of all the things that are on your to-do list for tomorrow. Dump it all on there! Don’t sweat: hum a little tune while you do it. You can prioritize in a minute. 

Now, looking at the labeled card that you made, look at the top left quadrant. You should be able to see the two words there-urgent and important. This is where your non-negotiable activities go. 

As you work through your master list, ask yourself if it’s important. Yes? Then ask yourself if it is truly urgent. What if it’s urgent but not important? Put that item into the top right box. 

Prioritize each task on your master list and put them into the appropriate box of your Priority Grid. 

Did any of the items go into the fourth box? Those are the things that you seriously need to consider marking off of your list of things to do. At least, put them to the side and don’t do them for a few days and then evaluate if you can just stop doing those kinds of things. 

Or you could save the “not important” and “not urgent” for a designated “fun day”. Having fun days in the mix is super important too. 

Step Three

Finally, Get the urgent and important priorities into your calendar.

There’s a couple of ways to do this without paper. Save a master copy of the FREEBIE I made for you into your drive where you keep documents. Call it “master copy” so you can remember to actually copy it before you work on it. Then copy your master copy and rename the new one every time you use it. 

Alternately, you can use a note-taking app such as Evernote and Google Keeps. You would have to type in your priorities there. Seems to be an extra step but it may be something for you to check out if you want other items that you track to be all in one place. 

My motto is, “Keep it silly simple.” 

Step Four

You’re gonna love this.

Finally, open the online calendar of your choice. I chose Google’s calendar because it allows me to enter items that repeat. Enter any repeatable items once, then tell it how often to repeat and for how long to repeat. Once you fill in that info and hit ok, it’s automatically done for you.  You just got organized with a single touch of a screen! Easy peasy!

Step Five

Get in the habit of referring to your online calendar every day. Look at the next day and also skim over the next week so you don’t get any unnecessary surprises. That’s when all that planning gets thrown out the window. 

That only get the stressful, tight shoulders weighed down with too much to do. 

Step Six

Smooth sailing, easy, quick, you’ve got this! 

Once you get used to following this procedure, you can rest easier at the end of the day knowing that you got the most urgent and important things done. 

You’ll be able to easily recognize those things that aren’t urgent and not as important as you once thought. You can take a lot of those kinds of things off your list. Just doing that will simplify your life. And give you a sense of peace. 

That leaves the “urgent and not important” items. Don’t make the mistake of putting important but not urgent into this box. This box is for those things that are pressing you in some way but you know it truly isn’t going to be the end of the world if you can’t get to it. Think about these tasks as items that get to be done only when the top row is done. 

organize and prioritize free printable

Peaceful days on repeat. 

Finally, keep up the new habit. Refer to your calendar daily. If the items on your “repeat” are still “urgent and important”, put those items onto your Priority Card first, then onto filling in the rest with ease and contentment.  

Do it again tomorrow! 

The secret to stress-free start to the morning is to prepare for the next day BEFORE the next day. I know I mentioned it already, but it really can be a game-changer for a smooth start in the morning. Every evening, take a look at the next day. Then, mark off the checklist I give you in this article. I promise, it’s super easy, quick, FREE, FILLABLE, and you’ll rest easier tonight.  

You need to make a list every Sunday night. Here’s the link again: The Easy Checklist. The printable, fillable checklist is also free. 

Now that you know how to prioritize, you are ready to go to the next step and make an easy plan that will help you organize your homeschool schedule and tasks. Click this link: How to Transfer Your Priorities to a Master List

That’s all there is to it. Prioritizing is off the brain and you are ready for the next step!

A photo of the author, Deborah Schreffler

Debbie Schreffler

Veteran Homeschooler, avid gardener, and proud grandma

I believe that you can design a peaceful lifestyle while you homeschool, complete with a garden if you want, and meals that will make the best memories you ever could imagine!

I homeschooled seven kids through high school, starting them all with a lot of planned, hands-on activities. Then, I centered subjects around the activities. That gave them lots of room for their natural curiosity to be satisfied as they learned about God’s world.

Let me help you teach kids, grow food, and stay calm!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Mat 6:33 CSB

When you join our community, you’ll receive access to FREE printable workbooks, including the unit study workbook, student chapters for my kid’s botany lessons,gardening tips, food preservation and more.
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