Years ago when I started in this business, it seemed many clients had difficulty identifying their priorities. This isn't as true today as it was then. Unfortunately, now what I hear clients say is…'I can identify my priorities with no problem, but I can’t get to them. At the end of the day I look up and realize I never got to the one thing I needed to do. ’ We are all busier today than ever before. A certain amount of chaos in our lives has become acceptable. But it has also cost us focus. Here are a few suggestions on identifying and working on getting to your priorities:
Create SMART goals and visit them regularly.
In order to know your priorities, you first need to know your goals—both personal and professional—because one flows from the other. Make sure your goals are SMART. Zig Ziglar says SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Relevant and Timelined. Now make sure you visit them daily. If your goals are SMART and visible, you are paving the road to then identifying your priorities.
Create focus time.
If you have identified your priorities but are not protecting time to work on them, you are setting yourself up for frustration and stress. Everyone deserves some amount of uninterrupted time to work on things they have identified as ‘important’…and not necessarily ‘urgent’. The Covey Time Matrix this represents Quadrant II activity and it is where about 75% of our time should be spent. If you think you don't have time to do this, consider the fact that you don't have time NOT to do this.
Minimize priority busters.
During my ‘Clear your desk. Clear your mind. Organize it. ’ workshop, we identify and talk about how to handle the 3 top priority busters—interruptions, overcommitment and procrastination. Not only are we interrupted at least 8 times an hour, but it takes about 20 minutes to climb back into the project we were working on prior the interruption. If you are committed to your priorities, over-committing is more difficult. Each time you encourage or allow an interruption or over-commitment, you are letting others pull you into their priority at the expense of your own. The third and most obvious priority buster is…procrastination. Every time you delay a decision to work on something important, you become your own priority buster! Identify your procrastination roadblocks and move forward in overcoming them.
Begin practicing these basic time management principles and remember…time flies but YOU are the navigator.
Copyright 2002. Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.
Cynthia Kyriazis is an organizing and time management consultant, trainer, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. Organize it, a division of Productivity Partners, Inc. is an organizational training firm she founded in 1995 and has been serving Fortune 500 clients ever since. Cynthia works with business and their employees to help improve performance and realize productivity gains.
Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of the Kansas City of the International Society for Performance Improvement – (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.