When coaching people, one of the questions I receive the most is, “How do I set the right priorities and actually stick to them?” This question tells me that people know that there is a difference between the things that they say are their priorities, and what their priorities actually are. It also tells me that people want to change, but don’t know how. It also tells me that people aren’t able to put the time they want to into their priorities. As you can see, this question tells me a lot.
Since so many people struggle with this issue, I decided to come up with a priority exercise. I have done this exercise myself, I walk other people through it on a regular basis, and it will work for you as well. All you need is a quiet space to think, and a way to capture some notes.
Are you ready to learn more about yourself?
Here is the ten-step exercise you need in order to give your true priorities more attention, right now:
Write down your top four priorities as they are right now.Priorities are identified by where you spend most of your time. Click To Tweet
Priorities are identified by where you spend most of your time. Even if your priorities aren’t currently where they need to be, the most important part of this step is to be completely honest with yourself.
Write down 1 – 2 sentences, identifying who you really are in this moment.If you don’t know who you are, then it will be difficult to move towards who you want to become. Click To Tweet
If you don’t know who you are now, then it will be very difficult to move towards who you want to become. Every map has a beginning point and a destination, and your life is no different. Progress can only be measured when we can pinpoint where we have come from.
Identify who it is you want to become.
Now, is the point where you get to dream. What do you want your priorities to be? Who do you want to be? Who do you want to impact? What change do you want to make on this world? These are all questions that you need to answer and capture into words.
When we can eloquently speak and write down who it is we want to become, we can become more comfortable with the journey that will get us there. When we keep our dreams inside and never put words to them, it makes us feel uncomfortable with the necessary action to get us to our goals. It’s time to be comfortable with becoming a better you.It’s time to be comfortable with becoming a better you. Click To Tweet
Write down every single thing that is consistent in your weekly schedule as it is right now, and identify how much time you spend on these things.
Now that you have your weekly activities in front of you, add up the time that you spend doing each of your priorities on a weekly basis, and write that amount of time by each priority.
Identify what the people around you need the most right now, and what they will need from you in the future.
We need to go deeper than just knowing who are your priorities, we need to detail out what you need to do to support your priorities in the best possible ways. This will enable you to develop a priority plan. An example of how this works is within the category of family. If you have small children, the things that they need now and what they will need eighteen years from now look entirely different. How you will love them and care for them will change based on their needs. The more you can identify these needs and prepare for them well, the better. This exercise helps you to see the needs of others before they happen, before they are asked for, and before anyone else sees them. With these points in mind, know that you can begin working in small steps preparing for the future. To do this, begin putting weekly action steps in your schedule now that will help get you to where you need to be in the future.
Identify the things that bring the most value, and give these items more of your time.
This principle works the same for money as it does time. When we treat time as currency, we will begin to see how important value is.When we treat time as currency, we will begin to see how important value is. Click To Tweet
Most people want the best value out of their dollar. They want to stretch their money as far as it will go, but most people don’t think of time in this way. When we make this simple mental shift, the way we schedule our time will be much different. How can we get more out of our time? How can we make the most out of each day?
If we believe that people are our biggest responsibility and bring the most value, then the majority of our time will be best spent building relationships. Of course, rejuvenation time can bring value, so never feel guilty for that, but knowing what brings value, and what takes value away from our time, will change the way you view time.
Use this step to remove the things in life that won’t matter to you in twenty-five years.
In other words, what doesn’t bring value? The unlimited time wasters in this world are easy distractions from doing what matters. When you are serious about getting more done and reaching more people, you will be much more aware of their presence in your life.
Write out your new priorities in the order of importance.
Now, that you have a much better grasp on where you currently stand and who you want to become, it is time to realign your priorities. This is to show you where you want to go next. Seeing where your time is actually going versus where you want it to go, is just the wake-up call that most people need.
Devote ample time to putting action to your priorities.
Action expresses priorities. – Gandhi
This is where you need to rewrite your weekly schedule, allotting the time you need to devote to your new priorities. Knowing what you need to do to move ahead is half the battle, and actually doing it is the other half. Knowledge and action are the two things that will get you to where you need to be. When you use your schedule to lay out your plan, you will be able to use it as a guide for your life. That’s the power of a purposed schedule.
(Don’t forget the power of minimalism. You can actually make room for more, while doing less. It’s all about realizing what is important, including sleep and downtime, and prioritizing those things. It’s not about packing your schedule full, but more about using your time wisely. Take the permission to breathe and enjoy life.)
Repeat this exercise on a quarterly basis.
Priorities have an easy way of becoming unbalanced quickly if we don’t stay aware of where we are at in life. Remember that this exercise isn’t a one-time deal, and that you will need to examine yourself often to stay proactive in priority management. The key is to stop and start the right things, before life gets out of hand.
Rarely do people need more time. If anything, people need to learn how to manage their time better, and this exercise will help you do just that.