On Friday morning you see a pile of tasks on your schedule that kept falling over from each day during the week. Two items on Monday dropped into an already full Tuesday, which then dropped 5 items onto Wednesday. Now on Friday it is way more than you can do and you hope you can push it out over next week and so you dump it on to Monday.
Too many opportunities
In business today there are so many opportunities and choices and things to do. All of them are urgent and important, at least it seems that way. So how do you handle phone calls, complaints, emergencies, emails, proposals, bills, critical undelivered materials that you need to get your project completed, and on, and on, and on?
The Big Rocks Story
There is a great story that is often told in seminars that deal with planning and time management, but most people miss the point. It is generally called “The Big Rocks” you can read the story <here:> or go to: http://www.successfulacademic.com/ezines/apr252005.htm
There will always be more to do than you can possibly get done, more opportunities, no matter if you see them all or not. The key is developing your skill of prioritizing. It is a matter of being able to look at all of the tasks, opportunities and urgencies and determining which are the most important to do at this time. Okay, I would agree it is a little more difficult than that. But if you look at a few key principles of setting priorities you will at least improve your skills and start making great strides in the right direction.
Not values again!
Deciding what is most important is where you start the process. And in order to do that you have to decide what your values are. “You have got to be kidding, really?!” It is like the old joke when a robber meets a couple out for a walk. The robber jumps out from the bushes and says “your money or your life!” So the man grabs his wife and shoves her toward the robber who is stunned and says, “What are you doing?” Too which the man replies, “I thought you said my money or my wife”. Yes values are important. You wake up in the middle of the night because you thought you heard something. When you get halfway through the house you realize there is a fire at the far end of the house, what do you do? 1. Grab your most recent Sports Illustrated, 2. Rescue the fish 3. Get the marshmallows or 4. Oh, yeah, wake up your family.
Life isn’t that easy, but it helps to understand ahead of time what your values are and even which are more important than others. Loyalty is a very important value, but is it more important than integrity? You get two big project opportunities, but you cannot handle both. You must decide which has priority, money or an opportunity to expand into a great developing area of your industry. Again the choices won’t be that easy. In fact, the problem is that the choices are subtle, and NOW. The choices that are the most difficult are the ones that demand your decision right now and the consequences are sometimes obscured.
Watch your emotions
Too many times our emotions play a role in our prioritizing skills. When we don’t have our values down clearly it is an opportunity for our emotions to create conflict and frustration. Having a clear understanding about our goals and our values is critical to being able to prioritize our lives.
Learn to see end results
In developing our ability to prioritize our opportunities and tasks we need to develop our ability to see the value of the outcomes of our efforts. To be able to think through the effects of our work and the value of those results is critical and is missed by a lot of people. We’ve all known someone who could buy things at garage sales or from the classified ads and could turn them around and make money on them. They would see a motorcycle or boat along the road with a for sale sign on it and the next thing you know they bought it and then sold it within a week for a nice profit. How do they do that? It isn’t luck. They know the value of certain items and they know a deal when they see it. What happens is some of us try that and lose our shirt and scratch our heads. You have to know the value of the outcome.
Clearly understanding your goals and your values and understanding the consequences of our choices, while keeping your emotions in check, are important to being able to prioritize your life. Creating the discipline to follow through on what you know is best, and to do the most important thing now is the key to success.