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  • jamesarndt13

Time to Prioritize!

To get where you want to go, you have to plan to get there. Do you ride the currents of life aimlessly allowing them to take you in any direction with the ebb and flow of life or do you intentionally set a course, grab the rudder, and direct yourself in life to the destination of your choosing?

I came across the concept of monthly priority setting during my leadership development studies years ago. I do not recall the book, author, speaker, or conference, but I recall the concept and it resonated with me. If I only had the time! I was too busy doing the day to day things in which we call life than to take an hour or two each month to focus on what I wanted to accomplish in the next month. I was like the illustration written above, I was moving forward, backward, and sometimes side to side with the current of life.

Last summer, I met with a successful local businessman in Paducah, Kentucky to discuss an issue he was having in the City that needed my attention. As we were discussing a potential meeting date and time, I attempted to establish a meeting and he said he could not meet with me at that time. He added that he intentionally sets aside one morning each month to set priorities for the next month. I thought to myself, if this successful small business owner sets aside time each month to prioritize, when he could be spending it making money for his business, that must mean something. I dug in deeper to this interesting concept with him and inquired about the practice and what it meant for him and his company.

Over the next few days I researched through the web the do's and don'ts of priority setting. How does one make the best out of this activity? How do I maximize my results? I then set aside one morning each month on my calendar to take control of my next month. That's right! I grabbed the rudder. It was no longer swaying back and forth with the current or tide. I set aside time to prioritize: in essence steer the boat toward the direction I needed to go.

What I discovered was both liberating and amazing! It has helped me stay organized and on target. It has increased my productivity. It has enabled me to concentrate on areas of importance and accomplish what I want to accomplish each month. However, this practice does take some personal accountability. It is not like the set it and forget it infomercials; rather, you set it and daily reflect upon it. Each week I grade it to see where I am at with each priority? Am I making progress to completion? Did I complete it? Did I begin it yet?

So how do you do it? Designate a time on your calendar once a month to get out of the house and office. Go someplace "offsite". In Paducah, Kentucky I have spent a few hours in my car down at the Ohio Riverfront. Just this week, I went to a local smoothie restaurant and sipped on a smoothie while I focused on my next four weeks. Remove yourself from distraction and then focus on what is important to you. I found it helpful to separate my topics into different categories:



Professional Development


Once you identify the categories that work for you, just concentrate on what you want to prioritize on over the next month in each section. At home for example, you may want to call each of your family members once a week. At the end of the week, did you accomplish it? If not make sure you get it done next week. In professional development, you may want to read one book on leadership each month. Did you complete your objective? In social you may want to reach out to members of your network at least three times a week? At the end of the week grade yourself. Hold yourself accountable. Did you complete your objective.

The great thing about priority setting is that you set the tone, the pace, and the complexity. My style has evolved over the past several months. Some priorities stay on the list from month to month. Some get accomplished and get removed. Some new priorities emerge and get added to the next month's priorities.

This system has truly worked for me. The time it takes is well worth the effort. It helps me stay on target and has increased my productivity around the house, in my relationships, and at work. It is the proverbial win, win, win! Just like the Cheshire Cat advised Alice in "Alice in Wonderland." I am paraphrasing now, if you do not know where you want to go then you won't get there. I hope you try this out and it adds value to your life.

Here we grow!

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