Our lives are filled with espoused priorities - the things we say are most important: things like our health, our families, being a good leader, being productive so that we can spend time on the most important things (whether that means work things or other things).
Do this quick exercise: make a list of just four things that are important to you - it can be at work or outside of work - it's up to you. These should be the top four things that you feel are most important. Now, go back and have a look at your calendar or task list from yesterday (or the last work day). Take a good look at these. How many of these things actually helped you achieve those four 'most important' things?
If you're like most people, this is a little frustrating. Quite often we find, through this exercise, that people spend a good deal of their day doing things that don't get them closer to their goals. In some cases they do things that actually get them further away. In many cases, we can go the whole day (or whole week) completely neglecting one of those 'most important' things.
If you're one of those people, take these simple steps to rethink the way you work and the things that get your attention:
1. Be clear about what is most important:
Think of the simple question that was asked earlier. What are the four things that are most important to you. If you had to think long and hard about that, then it is no wonder you don’t prioritise those things. When we are clear about what’s most important, then it becomes easier to factor those things into our days and weeks
2. Highlight simple behaviours that get you closer
Try to do something every day that impacts all four of the things on your list. These should be simple things that, when done regularly, will make a big impact in the long term. Don’t wait for opportunities to do huge things that make an enormous difference. Doing smaller things every day will eventually make a big impact.
3. Review every day for two weeks To embed the behaviours and keep you on track, review your most important things every day for two weeks. Answer this simple question for each one: ‘What did I do today that got me closer to .......?’
We all make choices every day about where to focus our time and energy. Sure, there will be things that you simply have to do, but there are always small choices along the way. Make sure you choose behaviours that will have the biggest impact on the most important things.