Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 70: Prioritize Effectively Using This Proven Strategy!
In this episode, I am going to talk about why it is important to prioritize effectively. But first, I want to share a little story with you.
Life Throws Us Curveballs
I have noticed that through my life there’s been times where it was really easy to be intentional and focused. During those times, I got a lot done in both my professional and personal life.
There’s other times when life gets so busy with other people planning or heavily influencing my life that it feels like you are swimming an uphill current. During those times, I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay afloat with a heavy current of events and activities pushing and pulling me in several different directions.
Oner the last few months, I’ve been doing a little bit of both. I traveled a little over three weeks on business, went on two family road trips, did a complete overhaul on my house and was involved in several other high profile activities for my employer.
I have felt like I was making slow progress while fighting a strong current. I must say though, through it all I feel I have been making progress. The reason? I have prioritized my activities into three buckets. Now let me explain the three buckets to effectively prioritize.
To understand the buckets, consider that everyone makes many choices on a regular basis. Those choices impact every aspect of life including family, work, religious activities, education, and pretty much every other aspect of life. Each choice on its own may seem insignificant, but together they collectively lead to the type of life you live and the person you are.
When making choices it is very important to prioritize effectively to make the most effective use of your time. A little while back I heard a speech given by Dallin H. Oaks. He explained the importance of prioritizing effectively and making the best choices. His emphasis was to categorize your choices as good, better, and best choices.
So as you may have figured out, the buckets are good, better, and best choices. Think about what activities, tasks, and responsibilities are most important to you and deserve your time. So how do you decide what is “important?” In line with Dallin H. Oaks’s speech, I categorize each activity and decision as the good, better, or best decision.
What is a Good Decision?
There are many good things that require your time. The first step is to effectively prioritize what is really worth your time.
Dallin H. Oaks said, “We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them.”
Just like he said, there are so many good things we can do with our time. When I think of all the things to spend time on, I ask myself if the activity has to be done right now or if it is just something that would be fun someday in the future. If it ends up being just a someday in the future thing, then I put it on hold indefinitely.
For example, here’s some things that would fall in the good category for me. Getting my pilots license, earning additional degrees, developing new hobbies, and traveling to distant places to see longtime friends. I would really enjoy each of those activities, but they don’t bring me closer to my goals of becoming a better leader, helping others and my organization succeed, and making positive improvements for the lives of others reaching financial freedom.
The good things are usually things that would be fun but really don’t advance goals now or anytime in the near future. They are just “good” things that can wait until someday in the future. Since today is just not that day and right now is not a good time, I just put them on a “maybe someday” bucket list.
Is there a Better Choice?
So what is the next bucket? If we do not prioritize effectively we will spend all our time doing good things, but fail to do the better and best things.
When I look at the “better” things, I think of activities that help me to progress in the right direction, but aren’t worth my immediate attention. “Better” things could be put off until later without major issues in the present or the near future. They are also things that could be delegated or passed off to someone else.
“Better” things have a direct impact on goals but they still distract from the best things. If you spend time on them now, they will move you in the right direction but keep you from doing what’s most important right now and slow your progress.
What’s the Best Choice
When you prioritize effectively, you do all you can to spend your time on the best things. The best things help you reach your short and long-term goals in the most effective AND efficient way.
These activities or decisions are better than good and better choices and demand your immediate attention prior to anything else. They can be urgent and/or important.
What are best choices? The best choices have an immediate impact on our overall quality of life now and in the future. The good and better choices, on the other hand, distract us from the goals we have set.
Here’s a Practical Example
You may be nodding your head in agreement, but still wondering how this can be applied from a practical standpoint… Here’s a simple example. Every night when I come home from work, we eat dinner as a family. After dinner is done, a good choice would be to get up from the table and go get my things ready for the next day at work. A better choice would be to go do the dishes. The best choice would be to help the kids get ready for bed and ready for the next day at school.
So why is the third choice the best choice? I look at this in terms of helping my wife and kids. There is only a short window each day that I interact with and help my kids. By helping them right after dinner, I spend time with my children and ease a burden for my wife. Once the kids are in bed, I can lighten my wife’s load by doing the dishes. Then, I can prepare for the next day’s work.
I understand that is a simplistic example, but it illustrates the point of looking at multiple variables and doing the activities that have the greatest positive impact in the moment.
Thank you for listening to the Leadership Done Right podcast. You can check out the show notes for this episode at LeadershipDoneRight.com/PodcastEpisode69/.
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Thanks again for listening! My goal is to help you become a great leader, now go be the best leader you can be!
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