We live in an urgent society of microwaves, fast food, text messages read in 90 seconds and responded to in 3 to 120 seconds on average. It is no wonder that it is difficult to balance what is urgent with what is important. Our constant focus on urgencies is costing us better wealth, better relationships, better finances, and more meaning in our lives. Tune in for three tips to setting priorities to be more deliberate and proactive to take back time and focus on the priorities that align with our goals. Learn how to gain and buid this skill so you can have the ability to take a step back and maintain perspective.
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3 Tips To Setting Priorities
We’re going to talk about priorities. Setting priorities is one of the key skills and tasks that you’re going to do as it relates to your time management. If I think about it, this is probably one of the areas that have helped me the most in being successful in my life is that I’ve always been good at understanding what the right things to do were. I have gained this skill and built this skill because I have the ability to take a step back and to maintain perspective. That’s been my greatest resource in being able to identify what the right things are, the things that are most strategic and important to drive results, and to stay out of emotional impulsive behaviors.
I don’t want to say that I never do that because that’s unrealistic, but for the most part I’m able to, when I go sideways or things aren’t working out, consistently take a step back and I reevaluate all that I have in front of me and I reset priorities. It’s a process that I do on a regular basis often, maybe sometimes even throughout the day but definitely once or twice throughout a week and definitely a couple times a month. Because our priorities change as our goals and feedback around us become more apparent as to what’s working and what’s not working, we also get to shift our approach. It’s thinking and acting more strategically and one of those areas is maintaining perspective.
What I want to do with you is to share some of the strategies that have supported me in the past that will support you as well. Number one is we’ve got to get away from the idea, this curse, in which everything is urgent. We live in an urgent society. We live in a microwave society, fast food and we get text messages and they are read within 30 to 90 seconds and they’re responded to within three minutes. Those are the statistics that I last saw. That shows you how impulsive we are and how much we are driven around urgency.
We have to balance. That’s one side of our brain that’s the emotional side but then we also have the logical side where we can be more deliberate and where we can be more structured in our thinking. We have to find balance between the two of them. Here’s what I do that works for me. Number one, when I want to get perspective is that I get into a focused state. What that means is I get clear on what the end goals are. Start with the end in mind, so I need to understand what goals or what’s the end result that I’m looking, so that I can align my priorities with my end goal. That’s the first thing that I do.
Then I take a look at all the tasks that I have in front of me. I organize all that I have to do in project buckets. I take a look at all my buckets and I take a look at the tasks that are underneath those buckets. Then I take a look to get clear, like the Eisenhower Matrix, on what’s important and what is strategic in driving the results and also what’s urgent and absolutely has to be done today. Because something is due, a client is waiting for it, it has to get to the printer in order to be complete for an event or whatever the circumstances are, but I can get clear on that through this evaluation process or getting into that focused state. The second thing that I do is I challenge my urgencies. I take a look and I say, here’re the things that I absolutely have to get done today or have to get done tomorrow and then I challenge that. Because I want to be spending more time on what’s important and what’s driving my results versus the things that I could delegate or that I could altogether eliminate if I questioned and challenged myself. I look at the value that each of those tasks are going to create and I challenge them.
There’re lots of different things you can do to challenge them. If you use an Eisenhower Matrix categorizing it and setting up a criteria is going to be a way to help you to challenge it. It could also be the questions that you ask yourself, “Is this going to help me to achieve my goal faster? Is this strategic?” To ask yourself sometimes, if you know somebody who’s excelling in this area, “What would so-in-so do? What would Richard Branson do? Would he see this as urgent? Would he delegate this?” Get into a different mindset. If your mindset is stuck and overwhelmed, go ahead and borrow someone else’s mindset so that you can think like they would think and then how would they categorize it and what things would they prioritize. That helps you in your challenging process.
You’re going to get into a focused state and then you’re going to challenge your urgencies and then you’re going to schedule your priorities. Because at the end of the day you can have all the best intentions, but sometimes those other circumstances come up around us and the excuses because emotionally it might be difficult, it might be painful for different reasons. We have to be clear in what it is that is going to move us forward and schedule them into our calendar. If you need to move something because it is important, but something else urgent comes up, you can still move it. You’re not going to delete it, but you’re going to move it. It’s part of owning these priorities. It’s not just setting them; you have to own them at the end of the day.
What I have for you is I want you to create some support structures. I want you to get into a focused state. I want you to challenge your urgencies. Then I want you to own those priorities. As I said in the beginning, check in with those priorities on a regular basis to see “Are they priorities?” It’s like a second challenge, get perspective and see what’s working and what’s not working in moving you forward faster towards your goals.
I’m excited to hear what you took away from this. Please drop me a note. Let me know on Facebook. Because most importantly for me is not that you’re finding this information interesting, but that you’re taking action on it. What drives me is to see you get results. Thank you. My name is Penny Zenker and today when you set the right priorities, you’re going to take back time.