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Thought For The Day

An Introduction to Priorities

© The Gulas Group 2010

In todays got to have it yesterday world the challenge is to get the most important, high value activities consistently accomplished each and every day.

In my productivity development classes I use the statement, "you could work 24 hours a day seven days a week for 365 days a year and still not get it all done. However you can get the most important high value work consistently done each day if you know what that work is."

Alec Mackenzie wrote a book titled the "Time Trap." He mentions two of this top twenty time traps are "Inadequate Planning" and "Attempting too Much". Now inadequate planning is all about knowing where you want to end up by setting priorities and objectives for each day linked to your major goals in all areas of you life. Being able to say no and not attempting too much comes from making better choices in the moment based on those goals you set for yourself.

An introduction to priorities is all about two areas of a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routine. The first area to consider is where I want to go and the second area is about what do I need to eliminate to get there. To accomplish this you have to start by using those spaces in your calendar more effectively to block out time for an appointment with the most important person in your organization; "you."

First thing to do is block out time for yearly planning. As I am writing this article it is the 31st of December. What a great day to set aside time on the calendar each year to plan the upcoming year. Next set a monthly schedule of at least one hour to set your goals for the up coming month. Make sure you set business and personal goals no less than three and no more than 5 monthly goals in each area business and personal. To accomplish work life balance focus on family, spiritual, social, physical, financial, learning and of course work.

Now you are ready to schedule thirty minutes or more each week to plan the next week and to calibrate your monthly goals. The most difficult part of planning comes next, that is setting aside 15 minutes a day of formal time on your calendar to plan the next day every day before leaving work. You may discover doing this daily planning session is best done before or after lunch. Completing these exercises of yearly, monthly, weekly and daily planning allows you to wake up with a true purpose each and every day as opposed to the startling sound of an alarm clock.

Once your purpose/intent is set you can begin to eliminate, delegate and postpone non- essential activities that do not take you to your goals. This behavior of making better choices in the moment in order to say no is the second area you must master to properly set priorities. Perhaps an example will make more sense of how to say no and make better choices when you plan every day.

Suppose the boss asks you to attend a meeting today without presenting and agenda. You look at your written schedule and plan for the day you created yesterday and discover you have something very important with high value approaching a deadline for that time slot. You can then make a better choice to negotiate some alternatives to the meeting like sharing your calendar with the boss, and asking, "Which is more urgent and important with the biggest payback to the key initiatives? You could offer to send a representative from your team or attend a portion of the meeting that is relevant to your input. Now consider the same scenario but it is a co-o worker begging to chit chat. Might you say something like, "I have an appointment now can you and I visit on this latter perhaps at lunch or on break? This ability to say no and focus on priorities is predicated on your ability to set objectives and knowing where you want to end up each and every day,

No introduction to priorities will be complete without addressing the tool box for creating sharing and retrieving these plans you create. Our research indicates that most electronic tool boxes are the preferred tool of choice today. The issue is most of these tool boxes like Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes or GroupWise and sales tool like Sales Force .com and ACT all are reactive not proactive tools. We can address how to move these to pro active tools in more details latter but for now just remember to create and store all information in one source and do not use multiple tools to set and track priorities.

For more information about classes go to Working Smart with Microsoft Outlook or Working Smart with Lotus Notes

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