When you’re trying to prioritize a to-do list, especially one for a packed but short period like a busy day or week, there are plenty of ways you can go. You can prioritize the things with the highest impact first. You can put the most urgent things at the top; those with the shortest time horizon. A particularly bad but oh-so-appealing method is to prioritize the things that the loudest people are yelling at you about.
But here’s the method I prefer: prioritize the things that are weighing on you the most. The things that are causing you stress.
Here’s why: imagine that you have to run a hundred-meter dash, but with special rules. You have to carry 10 heavy objects, each of different weight from 1 pound to 10 pounds. Every ten meters of the race you can put one object down. Which would you choose first?
Of course, you’d go in descending order of heaviness. If you ditch anything other than the 10 lb. weight first, that’s extra weight you have to carry for more distance for no reason.
Stress is a physical weight, and don’t let anybody tell you differently. Shed the heaviest chains first, and free yourself to gain strength and momentum as you go.