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3 Tips for Sticking to Your Top Priorities

As new tasks come at you, keep your top goals in mind. It is really easy to go down that rabbit hole of keeping up, rather than staying ahead.
Written Nov 16, 2011, read 1309 times since then.
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When you’ve got to stay on top of lots of different tasks in your job, sometimes it’s the biggest priorities that get lost in the shuffle. As little fires erupt around you, you fall into a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode. Sooner or later we all fall into that trap. It is really easy to go down that rabbit hole of keeping up, rather than staying ahead.

If you want to be productive and organized, it behooves you to set aside time to really consider how to spend your time. When life or work gets hectic, it’s helpful to take a step back, even for just five minutes, and refocus. Ask yourself: am I doing the things that will really move my life and my business forward? What are those things? What are those priorities? How can I set aside time to do those things?

Set your goals. It’s easiest to set aside time at the very beginning of the day specifically to review your priorities and make sure that you’ve set aside time on your calendar to focus on those. Even if you do that for just one thing that is important to you, it is far better than not doing it at all. At least you know that even in the midst of juggling all the different balls you have in the air, you’ve got some time set aside for the things that are really, truly important to you either intrinsically or for your business. Taking that time to assess your priorities will help to cut down the reactive responses to everything coming your way.

Review your accomplishments. Often when we get in that reactive mode it is really easy to start procrastinating. One way to procrastinate is to occupy yourself with busywork. And the next thing you know, the whole day has gone by and you don’t even have the concept of how you’ve spent your time. You were doing stuff, but what did you do?

One way to get control over that is to take a moment at the end of the day to review all that you did. Make a list of all you did—really write it down. This list will have two results: first, you’ll see that you did accomplish something, which is great; more importantly, you’ll see on paper how much time you’re spending on high-priority tasks vs. less important duties, and you can then refocus your energies tomorrow.

Schedule your day productively. One result of making that list is that at the end of the day, you might realize that you never did the main thing you set out to do! That often happens because we pack our days too fully. We schedule things too closely back to back so that there is no buffer for things that might come up. At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes we haven’t scheduled enough. We’ve left too much time for the reactive mode.

You have to find that right balance so that you’ve made sure to get to those things that are your top priorities. For some people what works is doing their top priority first thing in the day before they answer the phone, check email, or anything else. Others like to do it at the end of the day after they have shut down their email for the day.

Professional Organizer 
San Francisco, California 
Joshua Zerkel

Joshua Zerkel is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the founder of www.CustomLivingSolutions.com. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs leverage technology so they can be more productive, organized, and get more of the right things done.

Learn more about the author, Joshua Zerkel.

Comment on this article

  • SEO Consultant 
Jersey City, New Jersey 
Elvis Arias
    Posted by Elvis Arias, Jersey City, New Jersey | Dec 05, 2011

    thanks for you insight, will apply!

  • Undress the Stress Coach 
Surrey, British Columbia Canada 
Marianna  Paulson
    Posted by Marianna Paulson, Surrey, British Columbia Canada | Jan 07, 2012

    This is not unlike what happens when one is stressed.

    Reaction versus action.

    As you've mentioned, the antidote is to find balance. Find balance and perspective changes. In regard to stress, it starts with balancing the two branches of the nervous system.

    Keeping track or reviewing progress is important for maintaining perspective. All too often, the one thing that didn't go as planned gets the spotlight - everything else is shoved off-stage.