Don’t Pile It On. Prioritize.

Overload from Recycled Design and Art
Overload from Recycled Design and Art

Most of us are trying to do way too much.

I fight with myself almost daily because I have completely unrealistic assumptions about what I can accomplish in a day. It’s an irrational habit and a lesson I have to learn over and over again.

One of the things that helps me is prioritizing my scope. This involves looking at all the things I want to do, realizing that it would all be doable if I had a staff of sixteen people and accepting what I can actually do with my army of one.

Sometimes this means assessing how achievable my goals are. My American ‘can-do’ optimism is often (grudgingly) tempered by my husband’s pragmatic, German realism. As important as it is to have BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), it’s also important to know what you can and can’t do with the resources (time, money) that you have.

It’s also worth noting the victory of reaching a goal is usually sweeter when we are in good health and have managed to keep our important relationships intact so that your husband, kids, friends and family are all there cheering you at the finish line.

Reaching a goal is usually sweeter when we are in good health and have managed to keep our important relationships intact.

Once you’ve defined your scope – the ‘What,’ the projects and activities that you need to complete to meet your goals – take a good hard look. Can you really get those things done? Are some of the projects ‘nice to haves?’ is everything really critical to meet your objectives?

If everything is a priority, nothing is a Priority.

What are the most valuable activities that will get the most bang for the buck? Is there any ‘busy work’ that you can you put off or out source? Think about your scope within the entire context of your life and the need for balance.

“Achievable goals,” my husband likes to remind me, “Are important because you need to build on successes to continue to make progress.” If you feel like you are constantly behind, you’re more likely to constantly berate yourself (and those around you) or even throw in the towel all together.

Chances are, most of us will have scope that we can de-prioritize.

What can you ‘de-scope’ to make your life happier, more effective and ultimately more productive?

9 thoughts on “Don’t Pile It On. Prioritize.

  1. Making the choice to downsize goals is something I have had to do recently, and while it was initially disapointing, it is amazing how free I now feel, and how much more energy I have to put into what really matters, my family. Plus I have more enthusiasm and focus in my business, the best of both from reaching a bit lower!

  2. Nice post! Wow it seems no matter how old I get I still have a lousy sense of time when it comes to what I can do. I have found that giving myself deadlines that I actually stick to helps. That of course requires prioritizing and keeping tabs on my always wandering brain. Downsizing and simplifying in all areas of my life helps with that.

  3. Thanks for this post (and all your posts). I was just writing a big list of “to do” this morning and thinking it was time re-prioritize and refine.

  4. I LOVE this :”Reaching a goal is usually sweeter when we are in good health and have managed to keep our important relationships intact.” So many entrepreneurs are so driven they seem to recommend letting everything else take a back seat in pursuit of your dream… I think timing is everything in life and you have to assess your resources ( time energy and money) with each great new idea you have. Otherwise, you might look up and realize the dream left you with a shattered life. Thanks so much for finally saying this! Grow and prune your garden(ie business) thoughtfully and it will feed you for a long tiime..

  5. The best way that I’ve found to help me prioritize what to do and when is to break down what the consequences of NOT doing it would be…

    If there are ANY consequences that will impact my goals negatively, there are no if-ands-or-buts about it. It’s getting done.

    If there are little to NO consequences of not completing a task, it gets differed to another day. If it gets differed for more than a week, I reassess if it’s even worth doing at all.

    Awesome post! Way to get us thinking!

  6. Gosh, this was exactly the problem at my old workplace. Everything was IMPORTANT…so nothing was a priority. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, very helpful.

  7. This is so true and I couldn’t be reading this article at a better time. I also run my own business full time and while I’m always ‘working’ 14 hour days I never seem to accomplish all that I thought was possible.

    You’re so right and I’m going to put your advice into action right now!

    Thank you.

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