Posted on 17th November 2020 at 12:37
How many times have you felt overwhelmed in the last few days? Do you have so many competing priorities that you don't know where to start? We all have the same amount of time in our lives - 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week. We cannot extend this, however much we'd like to. If we are going to make positive progress and feel like we are 'winning at life', we have to learn how to prioritise.
I write this as I come to the end of a very unsuccessful day, prioritising wise. I currently have a 'to do' list as long as my arm and have had one of the days when focusing has not come easy. You can tell by the amount of pages and applications I have open on my laptop that my brain has been flitting from one thing to another. How much progress have I made as a result? No much! This ironically comes at a time when my Facebook community have been talking about prioritisation and how important is is for ensuring we stay resilient. Generally, I am ruthlessly good at prioritising, but it all goes out of the window when I feel stressed or uncertain of my road ahead. This is when I 'play at' lots of things and don't make any meaningful headway. When I'm confident and clear about the path ahead, prioritisations becomes much easier and what I care about gets focused on and achieved.
How to Prioritise & Stay Sane - Top Tips
On a good day, when I am a Prioritisation Goddess, these are the things I do:
1) Do one thing at a time
This sounds obvious but it's amazing how many of us multi-task and are not 'present' in what we are doing. Ever been on a conference call and sat doing emails at the same time? What about writing that report for a client whilst listening to your partner share how their day went? How effect was it? When we are doing two activities at once, we are generally not as effective, we are not invested in either activity fully and so we get less than optimal results.
ACTION: Decide what you are going to do for the next period of time and commit to it.
2) Focus on Importance, not just urgency
When you prioritise, you need to know what is important and urgent in your diary. As humans we focus on what we, or others, see as urgent issues but this can stop us focusing on the really important things we want to work on. For example, our kids often create urgency in their requests, when that is just a demand they want us to meet. We can decide not to jump and manage expectations with those demanding our attention. This might be colleagues, our boss or our family.
ACTION: Be clear on what is important to you and get used to 'pushing back' at times.
3) Focus on Your Purpose
If we know what we are trying to achieve, it helps us understand where we need to prioritise. Where am I heading? What am I moving towards? If we are clear, then we will know what needs our attention, what will have to wait, be delegated or left.
ACTION: Ask yourself, "Does this move me closer to my purpose?"
Prioritisation requires taking time out to reflect on what is important and what you are trying to achieve
4) Play to your strengths and delegate when it makes sense
Knowing what you are good at makes it really clear when you have to handle something, or when somebody else is better for the job. Some of us do not like asking for help or giving responsibilty to others. If we do not share responsibilities and ask for help, we are going to remain in the same loop of trying to do everything. This is not sustainable or smart. If we focus on where we add most value, this will help us maximise our time and talent.
ACTION: Delegate or outsource when you can't play to your strengths.
5) Leave Room to Breath
Life is hectic and many of our diaries are crammed with back to back meetings and deliverables. In many ways, we are setting ourselves up to fail. Take a fresh look at your diary and see where you can create space to think. If we don't do this, we will lurch from one meeting to the next without the necessary focus that will move us in the right direction.
ACTION: Take control of YOUR diary. How do you want your day to look? How can you get in the driving seat?
6) Plan for the day or week ahead
I'm a big believer in taking a small amount of time to get focused at the end of each day. Our heads can be spinning following a full day at work and so taking time out to think about tomorrow really helps you hit the ground running.
ACTION: Take 5 minutes at the end of every day to highlight tomorrow's top priorities - what do I need to do? What do I want to do? How will these help me move towards my purpose or goal?
I often get told that the biggest barrier to change is time, but we all have the same amount. Time is one of lifes great levellers. One of the big differentiators is how you choose to you use it. Time is precious. Prioritisation can change our lives for the better so that we use our time for the things that matter most. That sounds like 5 minutes well spent, don't you think?
Thrive over 40 are running 'Better Balance' starting 19th february 2021. This is a 6-week programme, helping women reflect on and improve their life balance so they can move forward into the positive future they deserve. Please book your free discovery call with Mel Bligh or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to find out more.
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