Sunday, February 15, 2009

Setting Priorities

Do you have any suggestions for how to make choices for where to put my time and energy when I have lots (and LOTS) of things labeled as priority 1?

This is an email I received from a woman who wants it all and an excellent question. Just how do you figure out where to set priorities when everything seems to be equally important?

You need to break down your to do tasks in sizeable chunks if you want to stay ahead of them and not run yourself in the ground in the process. There are two ways to go about it.

The first one is your daily list. In the morning sit down and pick five things that you absolutely must get done and put them on your priority list for today. Do these five things first before you do anything else and check them off as you complete them. Once you accomplished your five must-do’s you can ease up your pace for the rest of the day. What you accomplish on top of these five things is your gravy. This sounds easy but remember there are always interruptions, emails and something unexpected that needs your attention. Be diligent about your time and keep interruptions to a minimum until you are done with your five items. I don’t check email if I am on one my tasks and I don’t answer the phone either. Good time management is essential for you. Be selfish whom you give your time to and how you spend it.

This technique works equally well for your personal life. You do this by simply including your personal must do’s on your list. Things like picking up your kid, a doctor visit or doing groceries should be added to your priority list for each day if they are a must-do item for the day. Be realistic about how much you can do and don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Time management takes practice. As a tip: don’t add more than three errands to your list for a single day otherwise it can get to be too much running around.

The second way is to follow the concept of ego-RHTYHM that teaches you how to figure out what your main focus in life is and it's duration. In the defining years, usually from 25-45 years old, it makes things much easier if you know what your life main focus is and to do that one thing best. You let the rest of your life happen. For example if you are a new mom, focus on being primarily a mom and not on your career or other things you have not accomplished yet. In my book “Women Who Want It All and Get It, Too” I outline specifically how you can figure out where you are and which rhythm you are in currently. This way you will no longer look at your future as this big mountain to climb but a journey that is broken down in bite size increments which makes everything a lot more manageable.

A healthy balance is possible when you know what the most important aspect of your current rhythm (where you are today) is and you focus on that and stop worrying about everything else. This takes a little practice and discipline. Your life will shift again and something else will take priority. Then you focus on that and than the next one until you have enough experience under your belt and gotten enough of “all” to have learned that many things can co-exist at the same time. It can and will happen but it takes practice and time to get to the point where you have mastered each subject satisfactory and graduate to having it all at once.

In the meantime work with your daily priorities as best as you can. Remember to use KARL. You are doing great!

Let me know how it goes.

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