Tag Archives: the 7 habits of highly effective people

25 Jan

The Habits of Change, Part 4: Prioritizing

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Lao Tzu

PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST: When I read this phrase I automatically think of prioritizing. Prioritizing can help immensely in goal setting. Some people do it automatically. I am not one of those people. I have to sort things out in my mind and get organized first mentally.

Especially for those of us that are multi-taskers and have various things going on all at the same time on a regular basis. It’s hard to get organized at times, and be ok with chaos or be ok with delaying outcome because we are prioritizing something else. But If you truly begin with the end in mind, you can prioritize accordingly and prioritizing can be the process to help you get things accomplished.

I recently had a friend over who helped me reorganize my office. It was on my mind but I wasn’t sure how to do it and when she walked into the room and started offering suggestions, it led to an immediate re-prioritizing and the organizational piece of my office was completed. Just like that. That simple task, as a result, has led me to wanting to spend more time in my office and be more at ease while working on my business and training. Something so simple can sometimes make such a difference. For me it was getting rid of clutter. What is holding you back from prioritizing? How can you over come this hurdle?

Sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out what is more important and why. For example, if you want to launch your home business and the kids have commitments after school every day, and your partner is traveling, is now really the time to perfect your golf game? Golf is great and so is having a hobby. Good stuff, healthy in many ways. But what is more important? Where do you want your limited precious time to be spent? Prioritizing sometimes means acknowledging what has to come first and what needs to be sacrificed.

Often when I have a conflict of interest (in this case it might be wanting to play golf vs working on my business) I first have to understand what each goal will achieve. Things like feeding the kids, picking someone up, appointments and contract deadlines are kind of “no brainers”. They automatically go to the top of the list. And yes, I almost always have a list. I am a big fan of lists and post-its. Writing things out helps with organizing and prioritizing. And you can check them off when done. The basic “core” tasks like those mentioned above come first. And I don’t fight it, even if something comes up and I need to reprioritize and rewrite that list 10 times.

Perhaps I am burned out and need a break. In that case I might need to take time off and rejuvenate my energy by playing lots of golf to be able to come back to my other goal, my business and focus on that. Perhaps I need to suspend the items on the list and take a day off. I may not be able to complete one goal with out completing the other first. If it’s just a case of wanting to do both, and I can do both, I’ll try, but if one is time limited or deadline driven, I might prioritize that as the first order of business. It’s ok to not get everything done at once, and it’s ok to put things off for a while.

Sometimes there is a rhythm that automatically prioritizes for you and gives you the space to get through the tasks and objectives in a more orderly way. For example, waiting on someone else. When my web person goes on vacation, I have learned that that’s automatic down time for me for any web page projects I hope to achieve. My website is always a priority, and I am so committed to my website and my business that when I get a moment to take automatic time off, I have learned to take it. Her vacation time automatically repriotizes my goals and tasks. It’s turned out to be a nice break for both of us. For those of us that have home based businesses, learning to take time off or take a break is skilled practice which I am still learning about.

Having a realistic sense of time is also necessary to prioritize. If I wanted to play golf more, I would acknowledge that I need to get out on the course more, and then set a goal for myself. That way, when I achieve it, I get to acknowledge the achievement and also get a reward I already definitely want. In this example this goal is not income generating, it’s not time or deadline based and it’s definitely not going anywhere, so it’s an easy goal to move around. I know, realistically, when I can set a golf time, I might need to set up more times to get my “fix” and work my schedule differently to achieve this particular goal for a while. This kind of prioritizing gives you time to achieve it and a chance to enjoy the reward of something earned, often well deserved.

Questions: Are your goals aligned with your priorities and current time commitments? How can you align them better?

For more on my thoughts on The Habits of Change please read this series of posts.

Recommended Reading:The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Related Posts:

The Habits of Change, Part 3: Picture Your Goal

The Habits of Change, Part 2: Be Proactive

Habits of Change, Part 1: Intro to Series

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