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#1362266 by ken-admin
Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:54 pm
Hi to all,

I just posted about "FOS" (Feeling Overwhelmed Syndrome) here...

I mentioned that I'd share a simple way to prioritize. We'll use this post and the previous one to show you how making these 2 posts rose to the top of my "to do" list even though they weren't even on my (overstocked) list when I started this morning.


I prioritize by considering 3 factors...

1) Importance - how important is this to the long-term success of my business?

NOTE: I am using one's "business" as the project to be optimized. You could use this strategy for "life" itself as your "project." For example, I assume you are doing SBI! because succeeding at it is of long-term importance for your life. Or you could use it for any project you happen to be working on - any project with a big enough "to do" list that requires this approach, that is. :-)

2) Urgency - how urgent is it?

This may sound similar to "Importance," but is actually very different. Know how to split these into two. "Urgent" can be distractions in disguise. Something that seems like it has to be done NOW requires a question...

"What happens if I don't do it right away?"

THAT ties you back to Importance, helping you to split the two factors. Urgency requires action fast, but if it will make near-zero difference to your business, you can delete it (or bury it deep into your "to do" list - that's just like deleting it, but you feel better ;-) ).

In the case of these two posts, I know that I won't come back to this. And I believe that there's information that would be value to those tackling the BIG project of building an online business.

YOU would never know if I chose NOT to post this. So it's not about that. It's purely based upon MY evaluation...

"Does this help fulfill our mandate to help you?"

The answer to that tells me that this is not an opportunity that I wanted to pass upon.

But there's a third factor to consider...

3) Time

The longer a "to do" takes, the higher the first two factors must score.


Using these two posts as examples, here's how I prioritized them to "do now" status...

1) Both are important. Every solopreneur suffers from FOS from time to time. And many folks don't prioritize very well - it's an important skill. So I give each a 9 out of 10.

2) Neither is urgent. If I posted this tomorrow, you would not be the worse for it. But I know that this particular instance is opportunistic. If I don't do this now, I'm not burying this in my lower-down "to do" list.

So it's not the best example, since "now or never" is tricky to rank in terms of urgency. I consider this important enough that I can't choose "never." I tend to rank these in the middle -> 5.

I "sort of" multiply the 2 factors together, putting them as mid-range (45). I say "sort of" because there's no exactness in the number. It's really just a way to consider both factors at the same time.

So what pushes the decision these? Yup, Time...

I use Time, the 3rd factor, to figure out everything in the middle.

"How much time will this take me?"

It took me 10 minutes to post the "FOS" post. I consider that a great use of the time.

This one took me 30 minutes. That puts it at borderline, but I needed it to complete the first post to deliver a complete methodology for how to prioritize your "to do" list and overcome FOS.


Thinking It Through

It's easy to prioritize anything that scores 10 for both Importance and Urgency, or 1 for both. Time is rarely relevant (unless it's extreme).

Anyone would drop the latter (0 x 0) and do the former (100 x 100) first. There are not many "to do" items like that, though.

The worst "to do" projects have high urgency but zero importance. The result is still zero. The sooner you learn to pass on those, the faster you'll grow your business because you'll delete the stuff that was yelling loudest (or that you knew would be fun) but had zero import.

The opposite situation... Low-urgency, but high importance, projects are very different. These are the ones that tend to get put off forever because they tend to be bigger projects. The solution?

Give them some urgency by giving them a start date.

That start date is determined, to some degree, by Time. The less time it will take, pull that start date forward. The longer it will take, push it back (all else being equal). Of course, circumstances will affect your start date, but you get the idea -- don't keep pushing these back because they don't need to be done soon.


OK, my main goal was to help you solve "FOS." This post, on prioritization, was needed to complete the first post.

I hope that both were time well spent. :-)



1) Was either post helpful?

2) How do YOU deal with FOS, and

3) Do you have a system to prioritize? If so, how do you decide what to do...

NEXT. :-)

All the best,
#1362277 by Harvey from Woodbridge
Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:37 pm
1) Was either post helpful?

Very helpful, thank you. :D

You should post links to them at strategic points in the AG.

2) How do YOU deal with FOS?

Acknowledging its presence and giving it a name is a good start. Ignoring that "overwhelmed" feeling, or trying to carry on regardless, just makes it multiply. So...

Carve out an hour once a month or once a week (or whatever) and spend some time with "everything you have to do." Write it all down on a single sheet of paper (or on a single screen if you can think digitally).

The sheer physical act of visualizing the Big Picture of where you're going in a single view makes it seem more manageable somehow. It's also a good opportunity to begin the process of prioritization...

If you say to yourself, "What's the most important thing I have to do next to achieve my perfect online business?"... it's impossible to decide. There are just too many possible things to do to reach your broad goal.

(Besides which, achieving perfection is an "over the rainbow" dream. You only reach the end when you die, quit or cash in your equity.)

So for me, the first step in prioritizing and overcoming overwhelm is to break down the broad goal of "building a perfect business" into milestones. And I choose those by asking this question...

"What's the single biggest weakness of my business right now?"

Make that answer specific, not abstract.

Right now, the biggest weakness is that I've ditched AdSense (finnnnnally :D ) so I'm not earning any income. So my next milestone is to launch a minimally-viable product by January 25th (which is a realistic estimate of how long it will take to do everything).

Other than daily admin (answering emails, etc.), anything that I don't need to do to launch a minimally-viable product is ergo NOT a priority.

(I can spend time with all my other To Do's during my monthly "Big Picture" session, just to acknowledge their existence. Other than that, they won't get a look-in until January 26, when it'll be time to decide on the next biggest weakness - and therefore the next milestone down the road.)


Once you've set the next reachable milestone for your business's evolution, prioritization takes care of itself. Everything on your To Do list must get done before the deadline. :D

(If you're still overwhelmed, the deadline wasn't realistic.)

Thereafter, it's a question of tackling them in whatever you choose. And human nature being what it is, that usually means "easiest thing first."

A good tip for tackling the "toughies" that remain after you've scratched off everything else is to break them down into sub-steps. For example...

"Writing a sales page" is tough. It's much easier to...

- List your features
- Turn them into benefits (read MYWS - best copywriting guide ever)
- Write the H1
- Write the H2s
- "Bullet point" each section.
- Turn the bullets into prose
- Etc....

Bottom line?

1) Have regular "Big Picture" sessions with your business. Visualize everything you need to do on single sheet of paper. Then put 95% out of your mind by choosing a milestone to reach in a few weeks' time.

Of course, there are some tasks that need to be done constantly (like social posting). For the rest of the time, it's better to concentrate on achieving one specific milestone than on nebulous thoughts like, "I've got to keep adding new content to my site or Google will think I've gone AWOL."

No, Google won't. :D

2) Avoid overwhelm further by breaking down those tough tasks on your To Do list into do-able mini-tasks.

3) Do you have a system to prioritize? If so, how do you decide what to do...

NEXT. :-)

Um, I got carried away with the previous answer. I think I answered it there. :wink:

All the best,
#1362283 by Bill from Talos IV
Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:23 pm
Your post is exactly what I need this week, since one of my goals for the week is to get an action plan set up for the year. Thanks for reading my mind, Ken. :)

1) Was either post helpful?

2) How do YOU deal with FOS
I try to visualize the bigger picture, and try to remember that the only way to reach your destination is by taking one step at a time. And then, I just do something. Getting started with a job is always the hardest part, especially when you're your only boss. After the start it takes a little pushing through it, but eventually the motivation seems to kick back in.

3) Do you have a system to prioritize? If so, how do you decide what to do...
Not really. That's why your "Prioritize" post is so helpful to me.

Thank You!
#1362392 by Kai from Plankenfels
Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:03 pm
May I plug my site? I happen to have written a not-so-serious page on priorities: [Domain Private]
#1362422 by Mark from Northern Taiwan
Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:06 am
Good post. I use basically the same system. For me the hard part is planning my time for long term projects which are very important, but not urgent.
#1362430 by Catherine from
Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:17 am
Thanks, Ken, Harvey, and all. Very helpful!

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