Mastering Priorities: Are You Walking the Talk?

by | Productivity

mastering priorities

I'm often told that one of the reasons I'm trusted is because I walk my talk. It's not always easy, but I don't recommend anything I can't do myself. So, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of mastering priorities. That magic word we toss around like confetti at a celebration.

Your professional and personal life buzz around you like bees around a honey pot. But here's the thing: You can't be the queen bee for everything. Nope, not even you. So, we're capping it at three priorities each. That's the sweet spot. It might even be just one, and that's perfectly A-OK.

As my friend Melina Palmer of the excellent Brainy Business podcast says, we use time discounting to believe that our future selves will be better and do better. Future self will be able to accomplish five or ten things. We overestimate what we can do in a short period. Then, when we can't do it, we feel bad about ourselves. It's not that we are failures. We just weren't realistic in thinking through our priorities and how much our real selves will be able to complete.

Mastering the Priorities Puzzle

Imagine you're on a cosmic journey, gazing down at Earth from a spaceship. That's your Annual view, broad and expansive. Then, you switch to an airplane view, cruising through the clouds as you tackle your Quarterly priorities. Zoom in a bit more, and you're on a skyscraper, checking out your Monthly ambitions. Drop down to the treetop level for your Weekly priorities. Finally, it's all about your Daily hustle down in the weeds, where the real action happens.

Aren't sure how to map this out. We have next-level training with prompts for reflection, planning, and prioritization in this format in our Powered Path Program and online productivity course!

But that's not the main point here. When I'm in the coaching zone with my personal clients, we're not just talking about priorities. We're turning the spotlight on them, Hollywood style.

Imagine a journalist shadowing you, crafting a ‘Day in the Life of You' story. Would they say you're rocking those priorities? Or would there be some awkward shuffling and throat-clearing?

Let's get real with an example. Check out this client, a true priorities juggler:

Annual Personal Top Three:

  1. Reign in that HgA1c level (yep, that's health lingo for a diabetes marker).
  2. Slash screen time, embrace the real world.
  3. Amp up spouse-listening skills.

Hold on, we're not done. Let's narrow the focus a bit just to Priority One.

Quarterly Priority

  • Decode blood sugar patterns (Continous Glucose Monitor or CGM in the game).

Monthly Priority

  • Conquer the pill-taking routine.

Weekly Priority

  • Walk for ten minutes after eating sugar-spiking foods based on CGM data.

Seems like she's playing the priorities game, right? But ah, plot twist! Our journalist friend noticed some hiccups. She's scanning her CGM app when the day's almost done. Oops. That doesn't help her to know she needed to move after eating the cheese quesadilla for lunch or Kind bar for her 3pm snack.

She's also double-screening during episodes of The Morning Show and text-checking during her partner's stories of the day, which is not aligning with her other two priorities.

Now, let's shift gears to the professional realm:

Annual Professional Priorities

  1. Grab that advanced certification.
  2. Solve three bottleneck and process problems in the department.
  3. Level up presentation skills.

Quarterly Priorities

  • Clock in 2 hours per week for certification.
  • Outsmart refrigerated delivery snags in the supply chain.
  • Focus on virtual presentation skills.

Monthly Priorities

  • Same ol' 2 hours per week for certification.
  • Untangle supply chain knots in the scheduling system.
  • Lock in those presentation coaching sessions.

Weekly Priorities

  • Keep up the 2-hour certificate grind.
  • Re-strategize the supply chain scheduling to a dedicated team member.
  • Crush that coaching session.

Hold the phone! Our journalist, ever the observant sleuth, catches a curveball as she's following around our client. She's trading in certification time like a swap meet, barely squeezing in study sessions. She let people schedule over her certification time so that she only had about 45 minutes to study on Thursday late afternoon when she was tired.

firefighter

She's also playing firefighter to someone else's emergencies. She showed up late to her coaching session because of someone else's fire that she felt compelled to put out. 

When we reflected on the week, she could have pushed back on two meetings since they were last minute. She admitted she had FOMO and a little bit of guilt. When we discussed if the certification would help her at work, she said most definitely – it's actually a requirement for promotion! As for the coaching session, she wasted part of the company's money on the investment of the session by attending it late. If she hadn't checked her email one last time, she wouldn't have seen the email asking for a document at the last minute. By giving it to them, she has trained them that she will come in and save the day when it was their procrastination that made it an emergency in the first place. And guess what? It actually wasn't even an emergency. The person wasn't even using it until the next day. 

So, here's the grand takeaway, folks. What do you say you prioritize? It's time to put it under the microscope. Health your mantra? How about taking a lunchtime stroll or powering down after dinner? Family on the frontlines? You'd better be present, not just physically there. And email aversion? Let's break up with those badges and notifications.

Ready to face the music? Imagine that journalist peeking into your day. What's their headline about your Top Three Priorities? Is it a rave review or a plot twist you never saw coming? The power to rewrite that story is in your hands. So, what'll it be?

If you need help mastering priorities, let's talk!

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“Your Weekender Snapshot and Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday are my favorite emails I receive.”

jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects