I remember in both College and Seminary trying to register for classes in which I didn’t have the necessary prerequisites. Sometimes I could get them waived, other times I couldn’t. Even though the situations are frustrating, there are reasons for prerequisites. Everything in life is progressive. We learn things and grasp concepts in order to move towards a bigger understanding of something.
They are also part of life emotionally. Imagine if you had to go through adulthood without adolescence. How might that seriously change the decisions you make? The steps we take in life are preparing us to deal with the future.
The most basic definition of a prerequisite is a required prior condition. They are part of education, our daily work life, legal status and civil engineering. We deal with prerequisites daily and if we miss or overlook them, it can train wreck any project.
Prerequisites and productivity go hand in hand.
One of the big missteps in building a to-do list is forgetting the prerequisites.
Let’s talk about what usually happens (at least in my world) when I make a to-do list.
1. I scratch down everything I need to do.
2. I keep the list with me and consistently add to it.
3. I get overwhelmed with my list (check out episode 22: How To Destroy)
4. I check things off from top to bottom.
5. Invariably, I end up missing things or having to put something off because I missed a step.
Remember why prerequisites matter
Prerequisites make sure you know the information, theories and have the abilities to execute a task. Learning to clearly articulate them and plan out your projects or just daily life will not only make things easier-but it will put you ahead of the pack. You will gain time back because you are no longer crawfishing around (Louisiana speak for walking backwards). For some of this it might just mean not making another trip home. Sometimes it might be the difference between something hugely successful or barely put together.
Here is what we should be doing with our to-do list.
1. Write down everything.
Still process your tasks through an inbox or dumping ground system. Use whatever system helps you remember and also organizes tasks together.
2. Start ordering the tasks according to importance.
Just doing this exercise will be huge. You will be blown away how it helps you to concentrate better and be more strategically efficient. In episode 22 of the Productive Pastor I shared about the eisenhower method. It can be extremely helpful in gaining clarity about priority.
3. Start making a list of what has to happen first.
Find your prerequisites. How do all of these steps relate together as part of a larger project? Are there any recurring tasks happening every week? Throw them into a weekly template.
Each evening I sit down to plan out what I need to have done for the next day. I actually start working on this list during the day using the “looking ahead” slot on my day sheet (download it for free here). I work from a mobile office (yay church planting) and I am terrible at forgetting to grab things from the house that I need later in the day. During this time I build out my prerequisites for the next day.
Ordering my tasks helps me make sure I don’t get into a situation where I am not prepared. It’s about working smarter…not harder.
So pull out your phone, open Evernote or get a piece of paper. Write down what you need to accomplish first. Then share below how this exercise helped you.