We’ve been hearing from so many friends, family, and even some clients just how burned out they are. Whether you’re juggling a million personal things, managing a business, or trying to do both, prioritization feels like an impossible task. Even on a macro level, businesses are coming back and finding conflicting priorities left and right. Marketing, sales, services, culture, etc. all need attention. The severity of the prioritization problem can be attributed to the size of the team, the involvement you have in the business, the client and customer landscape, and more. It’s not a new problem. As a leader, you know when you and your team aren’t prioritizing and actually getting stuff done. Ok, thanks Captain Obvious for the amazing insight. We hear you, and we want to share how we’ve tackled this issue and how it’s worked out.
The Way of Progress
A-players, perfectionists, and business owners typically have a few amazing traits in common. They have grit, creativity, tenacity, and a willingness to do what it takes to succeed. The issue is that perfection can also be paralyzing and can get in the way of progress. I say this to set the stage for recognizing that progress is still progress. Prioritizing is one step in the greater scheme of moving your business forward. I have heard, and used, many excuses for not buckling down and prioritizing. “My team needs me to be flexible,” “If I lock myself into one thing how can I get all of this done,” etc. Prioritizing is basically niching your time. You know what needs to be done in order to move the needle, but getting started can be the hardest part.
Start With Your Gut
As a business owner or executive, you know deep in your gut the things you need to get done. It feels like tension, anxiety, pressure, or a ball of wax just sitting there hanging over you and weighing you down. Often it’s just 20% of what you’re working on that’s causing 80% of your problems. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule applies to more than just the problems you’re having. Chances are, 80% of the amazing output is due to about 20% of your effort and input. What gives? Use this filter to start thinking about what you can do so that you can offer the most value.
Prioritization as a Process
There’s no shortage of incredible tools available to help struggling priority procrastinators get started and stay successful. Really, you start with three. Do you know your three big priorities for the day? If you don’t, you aren’t doing your business or your team any favors. If you can’t say what you’re working on is a priority and how it directly impacts progress toward your goals, then no one else can. How does your team support you if they don’t know what your priorities are either? And vice versa. Start with a process for prioritizing. A successful strategy can include;
- Sitting down every evening, look at what major projects are outstanding
- Look at tomorrow, what major priorities do you have
- Select the top 3 priorities that you can realistically get done tomorrow
- Schedule it in your calendar and start with the hardest one
Do It or Delegate It
Looking at your list of priorities, what did you leave off? What major projects are you actually ignoring? Like, sweep under the rug, cover it with a table, and prop your feet up while closing your eyes, ignoring. These are probably taking up too much of your energy, time and resources, despite the fact that you’re ignoring them. These are the perfect tasks to give someone else. If you loved these projects or tasks, you’d be doing them, right?
There’s also a chance that you might actually love some of the stuff you’re ignoring, but you just don’t have time because you’re busy doing ‘other’ stuff. Listen, I hear you. Often as business owners, we feel deep down that ultimately no one is better suited to do the most perfect job, send the highest quality deliverable, or have the best conversation, than us. Would you hire you to do the job you’re doing right now? This is when you get real with yourself. So look in the mirror and you’re either going to get down to business, do the project, or delegate it. Delegating isn’t a one-and-done process. It takes time and requires you to be clear on your vision, expectations, and to offer clear and direct feedback (including criticism and praise).
Taking these steps is hard, especially when everything around you requires your immediate and full attention. Ultimately, recognize that it won’t always be this way, and you are the key to creating lasting change and developing an awesome team. Stop getting in your own way and watch your business, and personal life, take off.