As I travel through corporate America, one topic always comes up: prioritization. There is a major issue with folks trying to do too much. They are feeling like Chinese plate spinners, trying to keep hundreds of plates in the air all at the same time without allowing any of them to hit the floor and break. To help with that, I lead workshops on prioritization. Here are some key points:
1) If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. It is imperative to make a complete list of all ongoing activities (both personal and professional) and then prioritize that list. Determine what is urgent, and what is important.
2) General Dwight Eisenhower developed what has been termed the Eisenhower box. If something is urgent and important, do it now. If it’s important but not urgent, put it on your calendar to do it later. If it is urgent but not important (someone else’s priority), delegate that task. And if it’s not urgent, and not important, delete it all together.
3) You must be honest when making your lists. Write down everything that is consuming your time, and then go through the urgent and important drill. You’ll be amazed with how this allows you to clean up your calendar and focus only on those priority tasks.
4) When it comes to your personal priorities, use the walnut and rice approach. Let’s say you have a task to fill a glass vase with walnuts and rice. If you put the rice in first the walnuts won’t fit. But, if you put in a couple of walnuts, sprinkle in some rice, shake the vase and repeat, before you know it all the walnuts and rice fit. The analogy to life is that the walnuts are those things most important to you, and the rice is what you have to do to sustain yourself. Sarah and I have 13 walnuts, starting with Family and Friends. Physical and spiritual fitness come next. Then a bunch of fun things (like quarterly vacations) We ensure that our walnuts go on the calendar first and then we protect that time.
How are you and your team doing with prioritization? Let me know how I can help.