It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and have far too much to do with what feels like no time to do it. I’ve also been caught up with waiting until the last moment to do something when I knew about it for a lot longer. That pressure is not healthy! But there are steps we can take for future projects and tasks to help us learn how to prioritize our life and relieve some of that unnecessary stress.

In an ideal world, most people would love to prioritize tasks and projects based on what they deem as important. But in real life most of us, myself included, operate in the opposite way.

If you’re like me, you don’t give yourself time to complete a project or work on a goal until the deadline is near and you feel the pressure to do it. I’m sure many of you would like a way out of this stressful cycle. But what I have to say is likely something you’ve heard before and no doubt you’ll hear again. You need to start the project or goal as soon as it’s set in front of you. Don’t procrastinate!

I know a lot of submissives, myself included, love to be given tasks to accomplish and are always looking for ways to be better submissives. Often this involves setting goals and creating self-improvement projects. I’m also one of the millions who set resolutions each year (and fail them by mid-February). So, knowing a few key methods of breaking those goals into steps and then prioritizing them so I actually do them is worth its weight in gold. Or progress.

One way to avoid the stress of prioritizing tasks is to stay on top of your projects before they become urgent chores. Start work on it as soon as you get the project or make the goal. Within 24 hours of the start, you should schedule the time to brainstorm what will be needed to complete the project or accomplish your goal. What materials are you going to need? Do you need to sign up for a class or training? What research or inspiration is available? Who will help support you as you accomplish this task? What’s the timeline for completion? Is it realistic? What are the steps you can take to get it done?

Read More: Don’t Let Your Big Goals Intimidate You: Break Them Into Smaller Steps

When you prioritize and perform those small steps each day you’ll avoid the stress of an encroaching deadline, the sense of failure or the procrastination of never getting it done. You’d never set this goal if you didn’t want to be successful, right? Let’s do it!

Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.

Create a 4-Box Action Plan

When searching for a way to help myself figure out how to organize my tasks so that I know how to prioritize them I came across 2 methods that work well. Let me show you how to set up the 4-Box action plan. You’ll need to already have your task list for the goal or project you’re working on. If you haven’t done that yet, please go do it now.

Eisenhower Matrix

First is the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix, from former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is a 4-box system for organizing your tasks by urgency and importance, then getting them done. I’ve used this system for the last 2 months to help me stay on top of the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

The Matrix puts tasks into two categories then prioritizes them for you. The categories are Important and Urgent. Then you sort them. Draw a line horizontal and vertical line through a piece of paper so you end up with 4 boxes.

Now, write these headers in the boxes from top right to left:

  • Important AND Urgent

  • Important NOT Urgent

  • Urgent NOT Important

  • NOT Urgent OR Important

When you check your list against the Matrix it’s easy to see what needs to get done and even if things should be not done at all. Maybe even delegated to someone else!

Eat the Frog!

The second method is Brian Tracy’s method of consuming amphibians which focuses on your feelings towards the tasks on your list. In the words of Mark Twain, “if you eat a live frog each day for breakfast, nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day.” And so, the idea is to eat the worst frog as early as possible then breeze through the day.

Replacing frogs with tasks, how does this method work?

You categorize tasks into 4 boxes, of course.

  • Things you don’t want to do and don’t need to do.

  • Things you don’t want to do, but need to do.

  • Things you want to do and actually need to do.

  • Things you want to do, but don’t need to do.

The logic is that if the task is one you don’t want to do, it’s probably because it’s difficult. You know it’s important but you are procrastinating. So get the biggest, ugliest task out of the way first and the rest will come easy. I do that with my daily tasks in my Bullet Journal whenever my to-do list is really long. I rank the top 3 that just have to get done that day no matter what and tackle them first. That way the rest of them are easy and I don’t feel stress for not having accomplished what really needed to get done when the end of the day comes.

Read more: Submissive Journals: Bullet/Analogue Journal Review

In the end, there’s no one tried and true method that will work for everyone or for every goal you set. But if you keep a few things in mind, like the importance of the tasks, not procrastinating and tackling a little bit each and every day, you’ll reach those goals in no time at all.