Priorities is a foundation of Time Management. Without them, Procrastination, our most viciously hated enemy would not exist. When we procrastinate we are delaying more important activities to do lesser important activities like nothing, which honestly it feels good for a while. But then, the irony of ironies happens to us we feel tired from doing nothing all day. As Oscar Wilde said:
“It is awfully hard work doing nothing.”
So don’t work so hard, let’s try having priorities and doing something productive for a change. Before prescribing the medicine, let’s first do a successful diagnosis, (not like that ever stop a doctor from hurling a prescription). When your day starts at the office are you reacting to tasks and emails from others or are you creating your own? Reactiveness is the biggest symptom, and if your day starts by opening your inbox you better keep reading.
Doing What You Are Supposed To Equals To Less Money
Why is it wrong to open my inbox? What if there is an emergency? If there is an emergency, trust me on that you will find out, regardless of opening your inbox. The truth is that nobody on any job gets promoted for doing what they are supposed to do. That was not a typo. The ones who get ahead are the ones who do what they are supposed, but most importantly what they are not. Why should your annual raise be over 5% if you are just meeting your responsibilities? This means that your habit of opening the inbox first thing on the morning, or even worst, having it on your phone (God, that is truly unbearable), is stopping you from making more money. Do I have your attention? (Of Course I do, I just needed to hurt you where it hurts, your wallet).
Having Priorities Quadruples Productivity
Having priorities is the only way to apply Pareto’s principle or the 80/20 rule. Doing this correctly quadruples your daily output while cuts probably in half the input or effort you need to put in to achieve it. (Read Prepare To Save Time) . It is no secret that being busy does not equal results. And if you increase your output so dramatically guess who is getting a raise over 5%?
Choosing Your Daily Priorities
Now there is a lot of bogus and honestly some good stuff as well on how to set priorities every day. Like Covey’s Priority Labeling or other posts that honestly are only helpful in removing stress, at least for a bit. I guess we can call that Stress Procrastination, which makes us stressed about being stressed in the future.
But I advocate for an approach that takes more time, but then becomes automatic. The problem with the above is that is a pain to do it for everything, but what if as soon as tasks and emails came in they would be automagically prioritized?
Creating A System
First have a clear WHY. Sounds familiar? According to Angela Duckworth on her bestselling book Grit: The Power Of Passion and Perseverance she explains that we have one Top Level Goal in Life, followed by Mid Level and then finally Low Level goals. It looks something like this.
This will give you a needed framework to know what is important before you touch your to do list. If you have to do Covey’s method every single time, time will disappear and you will get frustrated at the difficulty of making this a habit. But, if you have recurring tasks A, B and C and you understand exactly what might make these types more urgent and important or less of the former, you have half of the battle already won. Figure out where each of your planets are in your own solar system, make sure the Sun or your number one purpose, has all the little ones in an orbit and not the other way around. Create some rules in which when an A task arrives that is due on a week it should be mid priority. And make it a habit, so that at a blink, each request is already properly placed on your pipe of work. In its essence prioritizing is not only important to time management, but essential to life. The only point made here, is that you cannot and will not succeed in determining priorities after your to do list is created. You can only prioritize successfully if your priorities are clear, simple and exist before the determined tasks flood your inbox.
The subject of this post was recommended by AJ Titus. If you have any topic recommendations be sure to leave them in the comments.