The content this week contains thoughts on prioritizing.

Setting priorities sounds easy and sensible.

It is sensible but that does not mean it’s easy.

Even if you’re not one to procrastinate, it’s commonplace to lose sight of what’s important or a priority. That’s just the way we’re made. It’s why the squeaky wheel gets the grease and why we get drawn into fighting fires every day, no matter how big they are.

As a leader, your task is more challenging because, in addition to setting priorities for yourself, you have to set priorities for others and then communicate those priorities clearly (which means, defining what success looks like and when the task is going to be reviewed).

A couple of tips:

  1. Set your own priorities every day. Make a list (written or electronic) and keep it short. When a task gets done, replace it.
  2. Think about your list before committing to it. Answer the questions: What’s the most important task for me to work on today? What’s after that? And, so on.
  3. Appreciate the power of the discipline of creating a list of priorities. It’s simple to do and doesn’t take long but it takes your effort to make it a habit. Once it’s a habit, you’re in good shape (think of establishing the habit of flossing your teeth).
  4. Understand that people need you to constantly communicate your priorities to them. If “drift” (working on tasks that are not a priority) was eliminated, you could probably cut your workforce in half.
  5. Accept that priorities change and revise accordingly. It’s okay when it happens and practicing “letting go” is important (more so for some than others).