In the past few weeks, have you had one of those “too busy” days where you felt like you got nothing accomplished? Have you been so focused on day-to-day operations and putting out fires that you haven’t had time to concentrate on reaching your business goals, creating an action plan for 2020, and growing in your leadership and management skills? Without setting strategic priorities, the rest of the year will continue to fly by this way. There is still time to refocus and regroup to end the year strong and to start 2020 on the right foot. Prioritization is the key!
As an owner, key executive, or leader, your time and energy are valuable (possibly even the MOST valuable) in your organization. Do you have control over it, or are you letting others direct where you spend your focus? It is easy to get distracted by the pink elephant or get dragged into fighting fires that your team throws at you. While these problems need to be addressed, having a strong team in place can alleviate some of these issues off your plate, giving you more time and brainpower to work on what is most important in your business.
Start By Knowing Where You Are and Where You’re Going
In last month’s blog, I wrote about strategic thinking and execution planning. If you haven’t already, block off some time to focus on goal-setting with your team. Where do you currently stand in line in reaching your 2019 annual goals? What can you focus on in December to finish the year strong?
Next, take some time to set your long-term goals. Where do you want to see your business in 10 years? Create a clear vision of what you want to accomplish by 2030, and don’t be afraid to think big. Then, break your 10-year goals down to what you want to achieve in three years that will get you a quarter of your way to your big future goal. From there, break that three-year goal down to what you need to accomplish in 2020 to stay on track.
Once you know where you are going in the big picture, your goals and decisions should guide your daily and weekly actions by setting the right priorities. A priority is an action or area you need to focus on to achieve the results you are looking for. Prioritizing helps you muddle through the clutter of your day to day tasks so that you keep working towards your end goal. Every week and every day, identify 1-2 priorities that you need to get done to stay on track of your business goals. Focus on your strategic priorities first, then tackle your other day-to-day tasks.
Tips For Sticking to Your Priorities
- Schedule time each day to focus on your priorities. Block off a few hours each day or each week in your calendar as a regular, undisturbed time to focus on your priority tasks. Stay loyal to your priority task appointments, and let your team know you are unavailable during that time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you give a task your undivided attention!
- Delegate unimportant tasks. Too much on your plate? How much of your valuable time is spent doing unessential tasks that someone else on your team can tackle? Start small by delegating your most trivial tasks, and gradually work your way up to getting rid of those larger time-suckers. When delegating, play into your workers’ strengths (give any number-crunching tasks to the analytical thinker on your team, or any creative jobs to the right-brain employees). Don’t be afraid to take the time to teach them something new to complete the delegated task – spending a little more time to walk them through instructions and look over their work will save you hours down the line.
- Keep your long-term goals top of mind. Print them out, write them down, frame them, or do whatever you can to keep your long-term goals in sight and in mind! There will be times when you’ll question what you’re working towards or wonder if the hard work and dedication will be worth it. There will be days when you keep procrastinating, and your top-priority tasks will be the last thing you want to work on. Look towards your goals to keep your drive going!
- Celebrate your small accomplishments. I wrote a whole blog on this; it’s that important! Has focusing on your core priorities led you to achieve a short-term goal? Take a moment to feel excited about this feat and celebrate to keep yourself and your team motivated and working towards your next goal. The celebratory feeling of crushing a milestone and being one step closer to your long-term goal will help you stay dedicated to your core priorities.