This might be a personal answer, or it might be something you’re trying to accomplish at work. Your answer is whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t mean that other things are unimportant. It just means that compared to your top priority, they need less of your time right now. If you know the answer to the first question and can confidently answer yes to the second question, you can stop reading and share your tips with me so I can share them with others. 😉 However, if your answer to the second question was anything other than a resounding yes, I hope these simple tips will help.
Step #1: Identify how much time you want to spend with your top priority.
Be realistic. For example, if you own a business and wear many (or all) the hats but sales is your current top priority, you still can’t commit all day, every day to sales. So, decide how many hours each day (or week, or month) you can realistically commit to sales work, which will likely be more than what you’re committing right now.
Don’t choose from what’s left in your calendar. Meaning, if you feel like you should devote four hours each week to your top priority, but those four hours just aren’t there to give, don’t skimp and give it less. Instead, reevaluate your existing commitments. At work. maybe there is work you are doing that could be done by someone else. Or maybe it doesn’t really need to be done at all. (Seriously, that’s a real possibility. I gave up Twitter and Facebook despite all the “peer pressure” and am no worse off for it.) At work or outside of work, maybe you’re on a committee or board that is taking time away from your top priority. You have my permission to leave the committee or board (but please be thoughtful in how you exit.)
Step #2: Add the time you’ve decided upon to your calendar and guard it!
Set it as a recurring appointment if possible. If you’ve decided to commit one hour each day to your top priority, pick when that hour will occur. Be thoughtful as you select that time. For example, if you know that your best energy is in the morning, pick a morning time for the activity. Or, if your staff leaves at 3:00 every day, but you stay until 5:00, maybe that is the time to pick so you’re not interrupted.
Be more critical about the commitments you make.
As a recovering over-committer, this is something I have to practice daily. When people ask for your time, before answering, think about if it will take time away from your top priority. Then do what you think is right.
Despite our best efforts, seasons will still happen when work/life gets overwhelming: a coworker’s unexpected absence, an illness for you or a loved one, or just simply letting your calendar get away from you. The good news is that if you are practicing the above steps, these will indeed be seasons. We can endure seasons. Chronic, unintentional busyness as a mode of operation is when it causes dysfunction. So, when my world starts to spin a little faster than I want, I call for a moratorium, essentially automatic no’s and deletes. If I am in one of those challenging seasons, trying to catch up from one, or see one on the horizon, I cease all extra, non-essential activities. For example, I know there is a lot happening this month so as invitations come in for other non-essential activities this month, I don’t even consider them. They are automatically deleted without even checking my calendar. Or, if a request for my time comes in, I won’t even look at this month and will offer availability in October instead.
In closing, it is also important to note that your top priority will likely change over time. When that happens, remember to revisit these steps!
May you have blessings, balance, and most of all, peace,