Have you ever been working on a big project and then something comes along demanding your time and attention? Perhaps your boss or a client asked if you can provide something at short notice for something like a proposal they are about to do or a very important meeting they are going to or. Many of us have, at some time or another, felt pulled in several different directions by different priorities at the same time. Some say that it simply life! Yet, what will help you in that situation is being clear on your priorities and having boundaries.
When we experience conflicting demands for our time and attention; we may feel our stress levels rising as we attempt to ‘do it all’. We might also feel as if our productivity and performance is going down because we are juggling to many things that are all urgent and important to get done right away. When you experience a clash of projects, tasks and things to do all demanding your attention in a short time, it might be time to step back and take another look at your priorities. You might even need to re-prioritize things so you focus on one thing, get it done, then focus on the next and get that done.
So, how do you ‘re-prioritize things’? What does that mean? Well, when you look at everything on your To Do list, how does each item fit into your big goals/projects? And when you look at these big goals, if you had to do only one of them, which one would you choose? If you could have another one to achieve, which would be the next goal/project you would choose? When we actually take time to put all our goals into some sort of a priority order, then it makes juggles those conflicting tasks somewhat easier. You simply go back to your priority list of goals to help you make a decision.
Additionally, it is important to be clear on your boundaries of what you will do and when you will do something. This is where negotiation skills come in handy! If you promise to deliver something by a certain time yet having to work late into the night to complete it, this might not be the best choice for your health and well-being. When you are clear on your personal priorities, in addition to the priorities within a work context, this helps to more easily make decisions.
One client was struggling between an important family event versus completing a work task. When they reviewed their priorities and reminded themselves that family is more important than work (even though work is essential to paying all the bills and enjoying the lifestyle they enjoyed), they decided to negotiate. Rather than becoming stressed about trying to get the work task done before they left for the family engagement, they were able to negotiate a different deadline to deliver the work. Not only was the person happier they ended up delivering an even better quality job because they were more focused!
When you take a step back to get a bigger picture perspective on your life and all the different roles you do, what are your priorities? If you could only have one of them, which one would it be? Then, if you could add just one more thing, what would be the next thing you would add in your life? Continue with this process to put into priority order all the different things you do in life to help you in future when you have a conflict about where to spend your time and what to do.
How does knowing what your priorities are help you? How does it feel knowing you are clear on what is important in your life?