Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Redefining Productivity for Greater Success - Clarity of Priorities Enables Knowing Which Goals to Tackle When

One of 6 tenants to productivity being "efficiently working at effectively achieving desired results" is how clarity of priorities enables knowing when to act upon which goals. Last month, I looked at what it means to "be productive" or "boost productivity"; today, I'll do the second of 6 deep dives into specifics for redefining productivity to achieve greater success, looking at the importance of aligning our actions with our priorities.

If you fill your life with the little things that don't really matter, you leave little to no time for more meaningful things... Start with what's most important! If you purposefully make room in each week or day to address actions fueling what really matters to you, there is still room in your life to fill in with some of those less meaningful actions, but you'll move more rapidly towards achieving the goals that matter most. Comparing the time limitations of each day with the space constraints of a jar, this video displays how making room in your schedule for those priority actions first leaves room for filling the less important activities around later, like starting by filling the jar with the rocks before adding the pebbles and sand around those rocks.

Focusing on your priorities is a powerful time management tactic to overcome the limitations in saying "I'll get to that someday." I have yet to find a calendar that includes "Someday". Every calendar has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday but not "Someday". Since we are more likely to get something accomplished when it has a specific date and time assigned for its completion, especially amidst the clutter on today's calendars, it's unlikely something you're going to do "Someday" will ever get accomplished. Remember that every "what" assigned a "when" is more likely to get done, and determine what finds a home on your calendar each day, week, month and year.

Each day, we have only 1,440 minutes to accomplish all our goals for work, home, community and ourselves, including taking time to eat, sleep, bathe, exercise and spend time with those we love. With our resource of time being so limited, it's imperative to invest each minute wisely, but how can we know which goals are important enough priorities to earn an investment of our own time?

I have two tools I prefer using when evaluating my current priorities. First, since my brain is not a reliable retention tool, it's important to dump the information out of my head, but I like to do that data dump in the most organized manner possible. I create three columns on a sheet of paper: one for rocks, one for pebbles and one for sand; then, as I move to-do items from my brain to the paper, I sort by level of meaningfulness into those three columns. The most important tasks, those that fuel my most valuable results and move me to my priority goals, are listed in the "rocks" column. The time sucks that distract me from what I want to achieve or are more a priority of others get listed in the "sand" column while those actions falling more in the mid-level of meaningfulness go in the "pebbles" column.

Second, once everything needing my attention has been pulled out of my brain and written out so I can view it all at once, I'm able to better utilize the Eisenhower Matrix to evaluate my current priorities. Similar to training from Stephen Covey, the Eisenhower Decision Principle evaluates tasks using the criteria of important / unimportant along the left-hand side as well as the criteria of urgent / not urgent along the top; tasks are placed in according quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix for determining next steps. If something falls in the Important / Urgent box, it is to be done now. If something falls in the Important / Not Urgent box, it must be done but can be delayed to a later date. If something falls in the Not Important / Urgent box, I consider whether it can be delegated. If something falls in the Not Important / Not Urgent box, I consider whether it can be deleted.

When you are evaluating which actions on your running to-do list are priorities, consider a few enlightening questions... Does this task truly need to be completed? If not, can I delete it? If it must get done, does it need to be done by me? If not, to whom can I delegate it? I find this mental checklist very helpful in determining which tasks earn a portion of the very limited time on my calendar.

How do you determine which tasks are priorities? How do you use that prioritization to plan your next steps?

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