How to Set Priorities the Right Way
Until you actually cement what the priorities are in your life, just about everything that comes up will be viewed as having equal importance.
Dinner with your spouse?
Another team meeting?
Time on the couch with Netflix?
If you’re not 100% clear about which goals are going to have the biggest positive impact on your life, you’ll find that it’s easy to get distracted.
In fact, one of the tell-tale signs that someone isn’t clear about their priorities is that they’re almost always busy but never really get anything done.
Why It’s So Hard to Establish Your Priorities
If you’ve struggled with getting clear on your priorities in the past, don’t beat yourself up too badly.
You’re far from alone.
Let’s look at two reasons so many of us struggle with figuring out what is most important to us and then giving it the attention it deserves.
The first obstacle is called priority pressure and refers to the conflict that exists between what we want and how we live.
For example, you may want to spend quality time with your family, so you take them on vacation. However, you also don’t want to miss anything happening back at the office, so you check your phone constantly. You’re not clear about which goal needs to take precedence which creates tension.
There are seven main areas of focus in everyone’s life:
Until priority pressure is eliminated, you’ll constantly spread yourself too thin among them. Some will get more attention than they need while others won’t get enough.
There are 168 hours in a week. Even if you sleep for 8 hours every night, that still leaves 112 hours wide open.
Yet, the vast majority of people still suffer from weekly worries on a regular basis. They wake up on Monday convinced that there won’t be nearly enough time to get everything done.
Of course, come Friday, it often turns out that they were right, but this was a self-fulfilling prophecy from the beginning.
When you know what matters most, your weeks seem full of opportunities.
For example, if the most important goal in your professional life right now is increased sales, you now have a wide-open week to serve this purpose. You could decide to dedicate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM to prospecting, qualifying, presenting, and closing.
Because you’ve become clear about your priorities, you can absolutely expect to see results.
Putting First Things First
If you’ve ever read Steven Covey’s famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you’ve already heard this simple advice before.
I absolutely love it. This one line has so much potential for those who adopt it.
In Covey’s book, he explains that your day-to-day actions need to prioritize those that will carry you toward your long-term goals. That’s not to say you won’t take other actions that day. It’s just that those won’t be given precedence over the ones relevant to your goals.
Covey thought that this principle was so important to grasp that he actually wrote a stand-alone book, Putting First Things First, to further emphasize it.
While I definitely recommend Covey’s books, I’ve also created two tools that will help you with establishing your priorities and then giving them the attention they demand on a weekly basis.
Learn How to Set Priorities with the RedRock Priority Stabilizer
Sometimes, it just takes a shift in perspective to make a profound difference in your life.
Nonetheless, I’ve found that my RedRock Priority Stabilizer is a powerful resource, as well. If you want to begin structuring your 168 hours around your most important priorities, I promise this user-friendly tool will help.
It’s incredibly simple to use.
First, you rank the aforementioned areas of your life in terms of importance.
Then, pick the tab that applies to your position and fill in the week’s boxes with the appropriate priority. Stick with the labels included in the legend.
Begin by filling in the hours you’ll spend sleeping. After that, you’ll divide up the remaining hours and allot them based on what you want to accomplish in a given week.
Keep in mind that it’s not about the quantity of time you spend on any given priority…it’s about the quality of the time you’re able to set aside for them.
I’ve included a completed sample to give you an idea of what yours should look like when you’re done.
Learn to Leverage Your Time
That provides the perfect segue to another tool I know will make a big difference in your life.
I created the RedRock Leveraging Time Battle Card to help people learn how to set priorities and better manage their time.
Once you identify your priorities, this tool will help you put a three-year plan into place so you’re able to achieve your goals. You’ll break them down into smaller tasks, which makes for a piecemeal approach you can take little-by-little. Over time, this method is proven to achieve results.
This tool is also extremely powerful because it forces you to identify which tasks you should be outsourcing or delegating to others.
Don’t try to do everything. This is a surefire, guaranteed way to never accomplish your most important goals.
At the same time, not doing everything yourself doesn’t necessarily mean certain things won’t get done. You simply need someone who can be trusted with carrying them out on your behalf. Start doing this and watch how many of those 168 hours you get back every week.
Learn How to Set Priorities and Results Will Follow
Once you’ve cemented your priorities, you’ll find that the steps required to accomplish your important goals begin to fall into place. While you still need to be intentional about how you use your time, it becomes much easier when you have priorities to guide your decisions.
If your goals entail improving your performance at work, RedRock can help. Our Systematic Foundation™ and Take the Lead!™ three month training programs that will give you the tools to improve in either management or sales. Register today and you’ll be taking a huge step toward accomplishing your goals.
Founder of RedRock Leadership