“I don’t have the time” = “It’s not my priority.”
Have you ever had more priorities than time? Well of course you have, who hasn’t? What is really frustrating is that other people don’t see them as their priorities. But isn’t leadership about being able to express your priorities and get people to make them their own, willingly?Maybe when you hear someone say, “I didn’t have the time to do that,” should say, “I’m sorry, I can’t make that a priority right now.” Is it that they have higher priorities? Or maybe your level of influence with them isn’t high enough? I would like to think it was the first reason, but it’s more than likely the second. Why, well if you’ve been a true servant leader towards someone they would believe that your priorities were also theirs. Why, because you’ve added value to them.So; “I don’t have the time” equals “It’s not my priority.” The challenge is to make it their priority, and in order to do that you have to raise your level of influence with them. To do that you have to make THEM a priority first.
“If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.”
– Zig Ziglar
So how do you set your priorities? In “Today Matters” John C. Maxwell writes that you need to ask yourself three questions when deciding on priorities;
1) What is required of me?
This may take some thought, and discussion. Discussion with those you work with and those you live with. I can always think of what’s required for me to do, but I bet if you asked others what they expect from you they would come up with some different ideas.
2) What gives me the greatest return?
If you follow the 80/20 principle then 20 percent of your priorities/work gives you a 80 percent return. The problem is that the top 20 percent is probably the hard stuff to do and it’s easy to do the other 80 percent, because it’s probably what’s fun and simple. When the top 20 percent of your priorities are in your strengths, then you’re in your most productive zone.
3) What gives me the greatest reward?
What do you like to do, how do you relax? This may be one of the most important ones for some people and the most abused one for others. John says that there are two types of people in the world, winners and whiners. Winners do what needs to be done before feeling good and whiners want to feel good before they do something. The reward for me is to see something that I accomplished or finished, even if it isn’t perfect. (You can probably tell that by the way I write, definitely not perfect)
Another tip John gives us in “Today Matters” is how to manage the disciplines of priorities in our daily activities.
1) Evaluate Priorities Daily.
Do your priorities change daily? I would guess that they do, unless you are retired to the television, and then the priority would be which rerun to watch. But most of us have busy lives and live and work with people who have changing and conflicting priorities. How many leaders meet with their direct reports daily to see what they are required to do? How many of us that are married ask your spouse in the morning if they have anything that they require/want us to do?
2) Plan Your Time Carefully.
Isn’t it great when you know what your priorities are at the beginning of the day? It’s said that if you plan for 15 minutes in the morning you could save yourself two hours of work in the day. And then fill those two hours in with other priorities.
3) Follow Your Plan.
In that plan put the 20 percent of what gives you an 80 percent return. As the late Steven Covey said, start with the big tasks first and you can fit the small tasks in, but if you focus on the small tasks first you’ll struggle to even start on the big ones.
4) Delegate Whenever Possible.
This is the best part of being a leader, to delegate what you don’t want to do, or better yet, what your weak in. Unfortunately leaders also need to delegate what they like to do, not only to train others, but to do what may be a higher priority. John says that if someone can do something 80 percent as good as you can, delegate it to them.
5) Invest In The Right People Daily.
Leaders focus on the top employees and develop them because they see the potential for higher productivity. Managers focus on employees who struggle because they have a negative effect on productivity.
If you think about it, setting priorities may be a more important task in the morning than checking all those new emails, again. Here’s a thought, maybe we wouldn’t get so many emails if we just picked up the phone or walked over the persons office and talked to them instead of creating an email string.
Let’s think about the lack of setting priorities and stress. If you don’t focus on the right things and get them done, don’t you keep thinking about having to do it and regretting not getting started? That to me is stress, just suck it up and get it done.
Take some time to write down your priorities and think about which ones will give you the biggest return. Is it the ones you’re focusing on?
I think another great daily activity that I need to start doing again is daily planning. It’s easy and unproductive to let life just pass you by without making sure you get done what you need to get done.
How do you set priorities?