Every day as leaders we get pulled in many directions. This is normal and, at times, very frustrating. Whether we like it or not, there are endless demands on our time and our attention. It comes with the job, and it rarely is the best part. Still, we can do one unique and challenging thing to handle it. We can proactively clarify our priorities.
Over the years, I have heard many people say that clarifying priorities is simple, but I have not found this to be the case at all. Every day people arrive with problems that need to be solved. Every day we do our best to manage and, at times, just cope.
Upon much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that to manage our priorities we first need to step back from the day to day issues and focus on the bigger picture, particularly the bigger picture at home. In this part of our life, I encourage people to define their priorities in the following areas: health, marriage, family, home and community/friends. Having these categories helps people name one to three things per category, and start to put many things back into perspective.
Second, at work, we also need to define the categories, e.g. people, team, strategic direction, operational excellence, etc.. Again, it is the categories that take the overwhelming task of prioritization and breaks it down into manageable areas of focus and clarification.
This week, define the categories that work best for you and then begin to define 1-3 priorities per category. This will take time but it is worth the investment when life just gets busier and busier with no end in sight.