Are you prioritizing properly? When a leader expresses to me that they are not meeting goals or their organization isn't running efficiently, I inquire about their priorities. Why? Because what we spend time on and what we focus on is what gets done and what succeeds.
We have a tendency to set the wrong priorities because some tasks are simpler. These simple tasks are a wanted distraction from the tougher, more complex issues. And we justify setting the wrong priorities because we are "getting things done". That's what I call "busy work". More than likely you have a great employee that can handle the busy work so that you can focus on the big picture items for your organization. How do you know if you are setting the right priorities? Ask yourself the following questions:
A leader's time is valuable so it is important to properly set priorities so your time is not wasted!
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One of the best concepts that I learned about in business school was the concept of "opportunity costs". Opportunity cost basically refers to the loss of the potential value or benefit that you would have received from a choice or alternative that you didn't take. For example, my 6-year-old thinks $1 is a lot of money, expecially if we go into the dollar store. He will often spend a long time agonizing about whether he should buy a toy (which will be broken before we get home) or a piece of candy. Once my son decides to buy the candy, the opportunity cost of his decision is the toy that he DIDN'T get. This usually doesn't cause my son too much anxiety. What does cause him anxiety is when we go to another store and he sees his favorite bag of chips for, guess how much...$1! My son quickly realized that the opportunity cost of spending his dollar on candy was also the bag of chips that he didn't know about!
I say all that to say, sometimes, we don't stop to truly examine the opportunity costs of our choices. At work, we may have a hard time delegating and find ourselves doing a task that can be given to someone else. What is the opportunity cost of you spending a half hour creating that spreadsheet that your assistant knows how to do? A missed opportunity for a critical conversation with an employee? Loss time to work on a project that is due soon? What's great about the concept of opportunity cost is that it applies to ANY of our resources--time, money, attention, etc.--whether at work or at home. What is the opportunity cost of spending $50 on a new pair of shoes? What is the opportunity cost of spending the evening watching your favorite television shows?
Whenever we make a choice, we are getting one thing instead of another. But how often do we stop and contemplate what our choices are really costing us? I challenge you to start thinking about the opportunity costs of your decisions to help you determine if you are using your resources in the best way.
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There have been some days when, as soon as I step my foot into the door of my workplace, everything just seemed to go BAD. Decisions to make with no good options, conflicts to manage, unexpected fires to put out, and so on and so on. I've been quick to label these days as bad and write off the whole day. As a result, I usually dragged that bad day with me all the way home and created havoc in my home environment (which should have been my sanctuary). What have I learned after too many "bad days"? There are 24 hours in every day--it is a rarity for every minute of that 24 hours to be spent in disaster, so I decided to stop giving my whole day up to a "bad" label and start looking for the good things that happened in or came out of that bad day.
Not every tough day deserves a bad day label. In fact, it is the tough days that defines us as leaders. Practice looking for the silver linings and remember that your 24 hours is not completely defined by the hours you spend working.
If you work 60 or more hours a week, bring your work home, dream about your work, and are always on call, you know what it means to be a workaholic. For workaholics, weekends and holidays are for catching up on work, not rest and fun. There are several problems with being a workaholic: 1) you don't have time for the things that matter most, like family and friends; 2) you get burned out and your health (mental and physical) will suffer; and 3) people begin to expect you to work all the time.
Everyone needs a break. Working 24/7 doesn't benefit anyone and if you're on salary, you probably aren't making any more extra money by doing so. The fact is, some things on your to-do list can wait. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! When you prioritize, you can find that the world will not cease spinning if you put a task off until tomorrow so you can enjoy an evening or holiday with friends and family (and rest!).
If you are having trouble prioritizing and setting boundaries with your boss and coworkers, I'm here to help! I have strategies that you can use to determine what needs to be done now and what can wait and how you can get others to respect your boundaries. Call or email today!