There are very few "secrets" of success. The reason I say that is that we all already KNOW 99% of what we need to know. We just don't do it.
Here's a great example: Prioritize Everything. In your personal life and your business, working from highest to lowest priority will have a dramatic impact on your success. If everyone in your company is always working on the highest priority item they have in front of them, it's amazing how fast things get done.
Just be aware: MOST people don't prioritize things - or they don't prioritize well. So they might get angry with you when you DO prioritize. I can't tell you how many times people get mad at me because they think I'm ignoring them. But from my perspective, I'm not ignoring them: I'm working on something more important.
Yes I understand that can bruise an ego. But each of you could do the same thing. And I need to realize that, most of the time, I won't be your highest priority. So there's nothing personal here. It's just focusing on the important things first.
How to Prioritize
One reason many people don't prioritize is that they don't know how. Too many of us allow everyone else to set our priorities. So we have no experience setting our own. We grow up letting parents and teachers determine our priorities. When we go out on our own, we tend to set the wrong priorities. Partying and spending money may be more important than work or college.
Over time, we have to learn to "be responsible" as adults. So we work on the important things more and more.
Still, most people don't take the simplest steps to prioritize what they need to do in their lives. As a result they fall into one of three huge traps:
Trap One: Jump from one urgent project to another. Urgent is NOT necessarily important. The phone doesn't have to be answered. People should not be allowed to interrupt you all day. Everything is NOT an emergency.
Trap Two: Make everything high priority. When I take on a new coaching client, one of the exercises we go through is basic goal setting. I have roughly 165 tasks that every managed service provider should go through to set up their business properly. Most have completed 30-40% of these. Of the remainder, I ask the business owner to prioritize what they need to do in their business.
Most people say everything is "high" priority. That just can't be. If everything is high priority, then nothing is high priority. You have to set some really big groups - like high, medium, and low priority. Then you have to put things into the groups.
This is exactly where people have very little experience. They CAN do it, but they haven't prioritized for thirty years, so they have no experience with it. They're paralyzed by the inability to admit that one thing is more important than the others. This is a huge problem for many people. Like everything else, you won't get good at setting priorities unless you practice it.
Trap Three: Just work harder. This is the classic pitfall we call workaholism. You can NEVER solve your problems by working harder. You can get more work done for awhile. Then you collapse after a period of working ineffectively. Then you make yourself sick. Then you start over because you're completely overwhelmed - because you didn't prioritize.
Working harder all the time is a trap that makes us feel good. We are working SO hard, it must be getting us somewhere. Except it isn't.
The only way for work to be effective is to prioritize and work on the important stuff first. That way, you can make actual progress. You can move forward. You can check some big things off your list and move to the next big thing.
And make rest and relaxation a priority is also important. You need to recharge your batteries from time to time. No one can run on empty.
One expression that I have had to fight in our company is "Let's make this a priority." That one drives me crazy-- priorities are relative. Everything is "a priority," but some things are higher priority than others. The phrase "a priority" suggests that the speaker doesn't understand what priorities are, like those who fall into trap two above.ReplyDelete
Yup. Organizations need to have standardized processes to determine priorities - and then work as a group on the highest priorities. That helps build a culture in which the whole organization moves in the same direction.ReplyDelete