I’m not talking about over arching goals and objectives type of priorities, rather, trying to answer the question: ‘what should I work on today?’. There is a concept called ‘highest and best use’. It refers to real estate and means the best use of a parcel of land to get the most value from it. It might come up in a discussion about waterfront. Would a public boardwalk, private condos, retail and restaurants or water industry be the highest and best use of that land?
We can use this term to look at our time. What is the highest and best use of today?
Choosing priorities is not a straight forward decision tree or matrix that you can follow to have your priorities spit out at the end. There are levels and circles and changing circumstances that mean your priorities shift and change.
There are ways to look at it and make sure we aren’t leaving important considerations out. Let’s explore:
Important vs urgent
Most of us get caught up in the urgent tasks, spending the day ( and we really are spending our lives) putting out fires and solving crises. By the end of the day we are wrung out and feel like we haven’t actually done anything or accomplished anything.
Important work moves you forward, urgent work makes more noise and gets in your face until you deal with it. One thing to consider is,
Long term vs short term
In the short term, I would like a big gooey chocolate dessert for lunch. In the long term, I will crash a couple of hours later and too many of those will result in my clothes being too tight. We are always weighing short term wants against the longer term results. Facebook, games, Youtube etc. All can fall into this category.
Research shows us that we have a finite amount of will power. As the day winds along and we grow tired, our will power flags, making us go for the short term easy over the long term results. This is where habits trump will power. If you develop the habit of walking after lunch, you aren’t making that decision every day.
Strengths and interests
Working from your strengths and interests means you get more and higher quality work done while using less energy. When I ran my bookkeeping business, I used to tell people I could get the work done faster than they could worry about it. Prioritize what is easy and pass off what isn’t.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to spend the first part of every day working on the things that brought me the most pleasure. That’s where this blog came from and my book. Some productivity experts say to tackle the worst first to get it out of the way. I found I procrastinated or did it and got in a bad mood. Now when I do the best first, I find it easier to pass along the things I don’t like to do to people who do them well and enjoy them.
We need time to do nothing. Without excuses.
We need time to think, to recharge, to assess, to reconsider, to plan, to be, to clear our minds, to enjoy, to take stock, to appreciate, to let go, to bring ourselves back into who we are. Give yourself the gift of time.
We are living in a sleep deprived time. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Stop what you are doing and get to bed. If you need an alarm clock to get up, you aren’t getting enough sleep. The only time I use an alarm is if I am traveling and my schedule gets out of whack.
Relationships take time and effort, but they pay off big time. This is one of those things that gets pushed down the priority list too easily. How can you weave in more time with the people you love?