We sometimes tend to think our success and value as a leader is measured by how late we stay at the office, or how much time we spend outside of work answering emails and reviewing reports. As a result, leaders often feel stressed and burned out from even the smallest tasks. There are many reasons that this work-life imbalance has remained an accepted standard for leaders through the years. I encourage my clients to shift this behavior by planning and prioritizing their day.
An effective leader knows how to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time and keep their personal life and overall health well integrated with their work life. Yet, it’s surprising how many of us wake up and jump into our day and start doing, without much thought as to what the most important things for us to attend to might be.
- A Priority List is not a To-Do list.
- Differentiate between what only you can do and what should be delegated.
- Focus on the three most important things.
Keep it Simple!
There are many prioritize-your-life-and-work systems out there. Frankly most of them are just too complicated for me. I use a method I like to call Priority 1-2-3, A-B-C.
I first started using this as an interim CEO. Stepping in as a transitional leader can be daunting; everything is urgent and important. This method really makes a difference for me and I hope it will for you, too. Give this a try – on a monthly, weekly and daily level.
- Take ten minutes in a distraction-free zone, which means no interruptions, no temptations on your desk, no wandering around the internet.
- Think of, and write down, three (and only three) most important things you could accomplish today, this week or this month, that will help you move the dial as a leader. Number them in order of most important. In other words, if you could only accomplish one most important thing this day, week, or month, what would it be? That’s your #1, and so on.
- Once you’ve got your three items numbered in priority order, go back and identify three (and only three) action items under each priority that will help you advance progress. These are your A-B-C’s. Sometimes it’s that one phone call you’ve been meaning to make. Other times, it’s that board relationship you need to cultivate.
- Direct your attention and take action. Start with your number one priority and start taking action on your action steps. Keep your focus. Stay the course.
- Don’t sweat the other stuff. Here’s what I discovered: if you stick to your Priority List 1-2-3, A-B-C, things get done! Which means you can move Number 2 to Number 1 and add a new priority for Number 3.
Get going and start prioritizing!