In Part 1, we discussed the definition of what a priority is and why determining priorities is vital to time management.
Once you are clear on what the term priority means and why identifying your priorities is so important, you can move to the next level of the implementation of prioritization, which is staying motivated to make decisions about your time based on your priorities. How do you stay motivated to do this? Simple. Understand the benefits of prioritization.
Benefits of prioritization
As humans, we operate by default based on our emotions. This is why so many people have the tendency to operate in a reactionary mode – because we feel obligated to instantly please other people or ourselves (or both), or avoid negative emotions caused by conflict or pain. This is why we end up going after low priority items instead of making progress toward our higher priority objectives and tasks. Operating based on logic actually is secondary to our emotional state. When we are able to reach this higher level of reasoning, though, it is then that we are able to operate based on determining our priorities.
When requests, demands or questions land in your court, if you truly understand the concept of prioritization, you can progress beyond an emotional state and transition into a state of logical decision-making, which allows you to make far better decisions about how you’ll utilize your time. You can browse your lists of strategic and daily priorities to help you decide whether or not what’s been dropped in your court is something you need to react to immediately or respond to at a later time – or, frankly, whether or not you should be involved at all.
When you implement prioritization, you are absolutely clear not only about what you want to accomplish, but also why. You understand how important it is to weigh your options: what is less important vs what is more important; what is of lesser value vs what is of greater value? You will be more likely to say yes to only the most important requests, tasks and commitments; not allow yourself to fall into the trap of overscheduling; and live a much more productive, fulfilling life, instead of just a “busy” one.
On top of that, when you completely grasp the concept of prioritization, you can utilize this in situations outside of time management. Being able to determine priorities and decide on your next actions based on those can benefit you in other areas of your life, including relationships and finance. When you comprehend how to prioritize, then you understand how to analyze the different perspectives of a situation, identify what all of the options are, compare the pros and cons of each, and determine what the optimal steps to take are in order to achieve your goals. Plus, this process will also help you identify the missteps that will prevent you from reaching your objective.
Taking an extra second or two to mentally sort through your options so you can determine your priorities is a small investment to make in creating a more productive professional and personal life for yourself.
In Part 3, I’ll share recommendations for how to determine what your priorities should be.
In Part 4, I’ll share techniques for prioritizing work tasks situationally.
For more strategies and tactics on how to be more productive so you can live life with purpose, check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.