“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
I had an invigorating conversation last week with a business owner who’s currently in the middle of a big growth spurt. I asked him what his biggest issue was right now and he said, “We have so many opportunities I feel like I’m not doing any of them justice – I’m afraid we’re going to miss something.” He went on to list all the things they have going on right now. He was right – it was a lot. By the time he was done my head was spinning.
It seems like we all feel that way on a regular basis these days. He was lucky enough that all his issues were positive – around growth, increased profits, etc. But regardless of the specific issues, nearly all of us at some point (maybe on a regular basis) find ourselves thinking the same thing this guy thought: “I’m afraid I’m going to miss something.”
We have to be intentional about what we spend our time doing; no more running from one thing to another in complete chaos. Face it: not everything we do is of equal importance. Some things are critical and others aren’t. Our job is to figure out which is which.
Start off by thinking about all of the issues you could be working on. Then ask yourself to what extent each of those supports your business’s competitive advantage (you actually have to know what that is). Then ask yourself which of those issues presents the biggest opportunity for your business to improve, however you define improvement. Which scores the highest?
Or try thinking about it a different way. Think of everything you could be working on. Which of those things could potentially be handled by someone else? If somebody else in your organization is capable of doing it, shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t you be focused on those things which fall within your unique skill set? Focus on those critical things that others in your organization cannot do and delegate the rest.
Regardless of your approach, one of the most important things you can do as a leader is figure out what’s most important for you to do and then be intentional about doing those things. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that we spend time on things that really don’t matter, but it’s a reality. If you’re spending your time on things that aren’t critical to your organization – why? And what are you going to do about it?