The difficult part of prioritization isn’t deciding what to prioritize, it is when your plans go to hell and you have new circumstances that require you to prioritize on the fly. Not all tasks are created equal. As you start the day, you want to take a look at the priorities, goals, and value of each task. People get flustered, overwhelmed and upset when things don’t go according to plan. Here’s where on-the-fly prioritization comes in and it’s very important. The biggest hurdle in prioritizing on the fly is your resistance to accept and embrace this daily process. Listen to learn a master tip and tool that allows you to turn your frenzied state of overwhelm to a purposeful prioritization moment. You need to communicate effectively and access your critical thinking to make fast decisions. It can be easy. It’s all a matter of how you approach it from a mindset perspective. Make that comparison and analysis in the moment about what’s more important and which task has greater value.
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I wanted to talk about prioritization because something triggered in me and I didn’t mention it when I had the interview with Nathan Hirsch. We were talking about prioritization and outsourcing being another means to be able to accomplish multiple things at the same time and take back our time by creating leverage. By seeing who else can take on one of these priorities while we take on a different priority that’s in the highest and best use of our skills and our time. One of the things that we talked about that was in Nathan’s book, chapter five. He talks about the different types of prioritization. We’ve got long-term prioritization, where we might look at it for the month, what are my priorities? The year, depending on what your version of long-term is, but we want to be looking at it at various different intervals.
That’s the way we set our goals and by setting our goals, then we’re identifying which of those execution points are going to be the most important and be the top priorities for us. We might have the long term and then we have the short term. When you’re going to plan a week, you’re going to set what the priorities are and you’re going to be looking at that from a strategic perspective of what adds the most value to you, whether it’s in your business or to you personally. You’re looking at the whole week and you’re looking at what you can accomplish each day that moves your big goals forward. There are the urgencies that will then be in the middle.
As you start the day, you want to take a look at the day and see again to take a look at the priorities, the goals and the value of each of the tasks that you’re doing. Not all tasks are created equal. Most importantly, what I want to talk about is the on-the-fly prioritization. That’s exactly what gets people flustered, overwhelmed and upset is that things don’t go according to plan. I said all these priorities but I’m not able to follow the plan that helps me. I block my time and everything, but then a client called and there was a problem, and then I got a new opportunity to make an offer and then there was an employee problem. All of those things happen and we’ve got to be able to juggle them and that’s where on-the-fly prioritization comes in and becomes most important.
The first thing is, and I believe the most important thing, is our mindset around the fact that we have to do this on-the-fly prioritization. When I find I’m talking to a lot of people and like, “My day is just not like other people’s day. I really can’t plan so I can’t set blocks of time,” and there’s all these excuses and reasons why they should be stuck. Why they have no solutions and why everything is urgent. Although they might be factually true that that is the way that their day is and no one is saying that it’s not, all that talk about it is focusing on what they don’t want and it creates resistance. It’s resistance to finding a solution and being able to prioritize on-the-fly. When that resistance exists and persists, it takes away our logical side of our brain or access to it so that we can solve problems.
We become overwhelmed, frenzied and unable to make a decision in exactly the time that we need to make fast decisions that we need to communicate effectively and that we need access to our critical thinking. That’s one of the key things I want you to take a look at is when you’ve got a lot of things changing and on the go. What’s your mindset? Are you accepting and embracing that you are going to be prioritizing on-the-fly throughout the day? That’s just the way it is. If you’re an entrepreneur, that’s part of your makeup of what it is to be an entrepreneur. If you have the type of a job that is ad hoc related in terms of the requests that come to you, so you get to expect it, embrace it, have fun with it and come up with a process that’s going to work for you. The very first thing is be in that mindset of accepting that this is part of your day and when you accept something, it doesn’t feel as hard.
It can be easy. It’s a matter of how we approach it from a mindset perspective. On-the-fly prioritization requires a quick mind. It requires you to make that critical thought to make that comparison and say what’s more important? Which task has greater value in the long run or which one has a bigger impact to the number of people or to what’s going on? You get to do that comparison and that analysis in the moment. What’s key in there is helping you on-the-fly to get out of that overwhelm or frenzied state that you might get into, is fall back into curiosity. Curiosity means asking questions because by the nature of asking the questions, you’re going to shift yourself out of that emotional frenzied state and into a more purposeful, thoughtful state.
That’s going to enable you then to access your critical thinking, to make faster decisions and to be able to communicate that more effectively. Those questions might look like different things are coming in and you have to decide is which one of these has higher value. Is this strategic? Is this truly urgent? Sometimes we’ve made the assumption that it’s urgent and that adds to our frenziedness. Who can we ask whether we can change the priorities around? Can you go back to the client and ask them if it’s okay to deliver tomorrow morning? You’ve got some research to do and there’s some work to prepare for it. You want to know whether that’s going to be acceptable for them, so it’s perfectly okay. I had this conversation with Nathan in our last show because that’s exactly what he said. He asked questions and he communicates, so the level of your communication is going to reduce your stress and enable you to find solutions faster.
You’re going to ask those types of questions. You’re also going to need to ask a question like, “Does this need to be done by me? What are the skills that are required to complete this? Can I find someone else who’d be able to support me in completing this?” You may have other questions that you can use in the moment. Those are a couple of examples, but when you start to get into asking yourself questions, see how it feels inside your body. It changes your entire energy to get curious versus be in that place of resistance and emotional distress. That’s my advice and my counsel to you. When you’re doing your on-the-fly prioritization, that you ask questions. That you tap into those questions and maybe you put a sticky note on your desk to remind you what are the top questions that you could ask in the moment. Sometimes when we are in a frenzied state, we go into fight, flight or freeze mode and we’re not in access to our critical thinking, therefore a little sticky note will give us a reminder, “Let me ask a question right now.”
Go ahead and write down the top three or four questions that you could ask to help you to get out of that frenzied state and back into purposeful prioritization so that you can prioritize on-the-fly. Go ahead and share with us what were some of those questions that were most valuable to you? How did this work for you? Do this for a week. A lot of things that you’re learning, the tips and tricks that you’re learning from this podcast, I’d love to see you put them into practice because that’s the most important thing. Give us feedback is the difference that it made in your work day, and what kind of time you were able to take back because time spent in stress is time that is not productive, because you have the potential of making more mistakes. It may take you longer to do things and so forth. How did you take back your time this week using this tip and this tool? I can’t wait to hear from you.