There is no shortage of things to keep us busy. There will always be new books, ideas, conferences, strategies, etc. With so many options available to us, what do we need to do in order to achieve the success and significance we desire?
One word – PRIORITIZE!
This may be painful for you at first. Prioritizing means you have to say “no” to good things and people so you can say “yes” to your vision, mission, and goals. It means you have to cut off anything that distracts you from accomplishing your vital work. This isn’t easy. I’ve met very few people who say “no” well. Many times we say “yes” and regret it later. We fill up our schedules with good, but not the best activities. We overbook ourselves. We add to our workload without subtracting anything.
Purposeful action is the goal, not busyness. We speak proudly of busyness in America and wear it as a badge of honor. It is not. Busyness is a sign of overcommitment and a lack of prioritization. Busyness is a sign of our inability to make wise choices. Busyness reveals a lack of discipline. The more you grow and mature as a leader, the more you will cut out of your schedule so you can focus only on what you do best.
Recording a high volume of hours at the office is not a true indicator of success. The output and quality of your work are the best metrics.
Ask yourself the question – What is the “fruit” of my effort?
One person can work 10 hours and outwork another person who puts in 40+ hours by being disciplined with their time and doing the most effective activities. Our bodies and minds can only productively work for a few hours at a time. The longer you work, the less productive you become. (For more on this topic, check out the insightful book Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang.)
Side note – This is one glaring problem I see in the business world. We often penalize highly productive people by paying them similarly to nonproductive people based on hours logged rather than their production and impact during those hours. Too many workers today just put in their time. They don’t work diligently to contribute to the company’s mission, vision, and goals. We need to find a better way.
Define your priorities, then give your full focus to them in 30-60 minute time blocks. Remove other distractions by turning off notifications on your devices. Focus on one priority at a time and discover how much more productive you become. At the beginning of each day, identify three or four key activities and block out time on your calendar for each one. Go deep on what matters most rather than giving minimal, distracted attention to many things. Refuse to do “busy work” until your “vital work” is completed.
One powerful lesson I learned from author and success mentor Darren Hardy is to stop using a “to-do” list as a daily work tool. Instead, schedule vital tasks into your calendar and do them! Change your “to do” list into a “collection list” of items you need to get out of your mind so they don’t consume mental energy. Then schedule the highest priority items into your calendar. This shift will make a tremendous difference.
Many of us stay busy and end each week worn out. It’s time to re-evaluate how you are utilizing your time. If someone can do what you’re doing 70% as well, then it’s time to delegate. Determine what only you can or should do and delegate the rest.
Determine which tasks that you simply need to stop doing. Create a “stop doing” list. Spend time reflecting to determine which tasks you are doing out of habit that are not moving you toward accomplishing your vision, mission, and goals. Commit right now to dig deep on this and take action accordingly.
You can become highly effective with your time, but determining your priorities is key.
If you want to study this more in-depth, I recommend reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown and The One Thing by Gary Keller. Both address the concept of prioritization specifically.
Until next time…make today GREAT!
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