changed prioritiesHave you taken the time to lay out and consider, confirm or reset your top priorities? If so, good for you. If not, you have a lot of company. In fact, I have found that one of the hardest tasks for every high-achieving person or team is to right-size priorities.

The Problem

Not one person I talk with denies the importance of setting priorities. And, most of us blame our lack of clear priorities on either the company or the pressure of surviving the day or week ahead.

Here’s how I see the problem:

  1. We want to do all the important things along with the business-as-usual work.
  2. We have limited resources, often driven by cost-containment rather than outcome requirements.
  3. We are not in control of our goals/work, often being on the receiving end of what needs to get done.
  4. The last thing we spend time on is our own planning and organization.
  5. There is and always will be too much to do.

I suspect I do a lot more long-term planning than most of you, largely because my income depends on it and I can better control my time. Even so, I find myself in the same bucket right now. What are my true priorities?

The Process

This week, I am going to spend no more than 45 minutes and:

  1. Pull out all my planning documents and make a diagram or mindmap of all of my key work/priorities.
  2. Add any longer-term priorities that are not even on my radar screen right now.
  3. Color code each item for high, medium, or low importance to my overarching goals.
  4. Within each color, force an order of importance.

That’s the first 45 minutes. Then, over the next few weeks, I’m going to construct a timeline for each priority with milestones and time requirements.

Only with that information can I even consider what’s really important, what I have to delay or triage,  and what outcomes are not only possible, but highly motivating.

Yes, setting priorities takes time, decisions, and letting go of previous commitments and work underway. It’s only worth the effort if the benefit of focus, energy, and outcomes will be higher than the current path.

Imagine if you did an overlay with your personal priorities…