Time Management: Discovering Your Priorities
When we talk about time management, the truth of the matter is that we all have the same number of hours in the day and yet some of us finish mountains of work and projects while others complain they ran out of time. What’s the difference between the two scenarios? It’s all about priorities. A priority is the concern, interest or desire that comes before all others. So maybe it isn’t time management at all. Maybe it’s really managing ourselves.
Discovering your priorities is an exercise everyone should do. Once you know your priorities, you can choose to keep them on top, change to get them on top…or do nothing at all.
Discovering our priorities begins by asking yourself; “What do I want my life to look like? How do I want to spend my time?” Now remember, you have to look at both your professional and your personal life to determine how you want it to be. And, are you creating and reaching your goals while confusing them with your priorities? Think of it this way, goals can be checked off your To Do List once you achieve them; Priorities, cannot. But, you can create activities that combine them both.
Once you know your priorities, you can attach them to activities that you are probably already doing. When I began my career in sales, my number 1 priority were my children. As a single mom, their well-being was more important than anything else, but I still had to support them emotionally and financially. What I did was take out a blotter sized calendar and create our month together. I put everything that was important to them on the calendar first.
Since they were both in sports, I had their games on the calendar and never missed a game. They were both in private schools and I volunteered there…on the calendar. Of course doctor, dentist appointments were on the calendar as well but that wasn’t important to them. Once I could see where and when I needed to be with them, I then created my work schedule for my sales appointments. I could clearly see what my optimum times to be on the road were so that it didn’t interfere with their schedules and I didn’t feel rushed. I have shared my calendar idea with sales professionals everywhere and not only are your priorities clear, those that you’re your priority can also see that they are important enough to be on your calendar.
Simply saying you have priorities with no intent of making something your priority is as bad as setting a goal and not doing anything to get you there. And, giving everything you are doing equal importance and value is not realistic either. By not identifying your priorities you will feel overwhelmed and unable to complete anything on time or with the importance it should really have. Don’t use your lack of defining your priorities as an excuse for not getting anything done. It’s time to sit yourself done and start creating a list.
Defining what your priorities are is an important step in balancing your life. We all know that time is our most limited resource; time does not renew itself. Once we spend a day, it’s gone forever. If we waste that day by investing our time in actions that don’t produce the results we want or spend time with those that really matter, that loss is permanent. Once those 24 hours are behind us, it’s gone. We need to invest our time wisely and that begins with our priorities so that you have the ability to do your best and be your best on a somewhat consistent basis.
If we can clearly define our priorities, we can use them to keep us focused and not be subject to the shiny object syndrome that so many of us fall victim to. When we are clear with our priorities, we are clear with our plan. Defining your goals and implementing actions to align them with your priorities on a consistent basis you will see greater productivity, better relationships and a much more focused sense of purpose.
One thing that can cause feelings of being overwhelmed and off balance in life is due to the fact that you are not living by your priorities. Since over 45% of our behaviors are habitual; many times we are on auto-pilot and not worrying about the consequences or any alternatives. To gain some control over those overwhelming feelings, and start to regain some balance in your life; you must determine what your priorities are at this point in your life. Your priorities will change depending on your circumstances so make sure you know what is important now and review as often as necessary.
Begin to think about some of the activities you are doing in your day. Are you doing it because it is something you chose to do; or is it something that has just become habit? When you attach your goals to your priorities it will take you to what’s important to you at this point in your life.
As women, we still believe we need to wear that cape with the big “S” on it. The truth of the matter is we put that in storage a long time ago.
But the question still remains…can a woman have it all? Probably…just not all at once.
President, Selling In A Skirt