Prioritizing Time: You are what you take the time to become
Most likely no one woke up today and suddenly discovered that they could run a marathon, or surprisingly woke up with a cure for cancer. It’s also unlikely that you woke up and amazingly won an Oscar, or overnight you unexpectedly received an answer to the Goldbach conjecture. That’s because those things require prioritizing time, and it takes energy and focus to accomplish. In other words, you are what you take the time to become, and you accomplish what you take the time to do.
Accomplishing something remarkable isn’t reserved just for world-class athletes, scientists, or famous artists—it’s something you can do too, providing you start evaluating, organizing, and prioritizing time that you have (which, by the way, is the same amount of time world-class athletes, scientists, and famous artists have).
Hold a weekly meeting with just you
A critical link between what you dream of accomplishing and what you actually accomplish is forged in a weekly personal summit—in other words, a meeting that you hold with yourself.
Set aside a specific time in a quiet place each week to evaluate your past week, and preview (organize and plan) the week ahead. This is the moment of clarity where you can gain perspective about the roles you play in life (boss, student, spouse, artist, parent, etc.) and your personal goals become the primary influencing factors as you plan the activities you’ll do each day.
Rather than simply planning out the week based on what happens to be in front of you at the moment, you proactively (take the initiative) determine which hours during the week will be investing in the things that you’ve decided are most important.
Guide yourself with questions
Asking yourself with questions (and answering honestly) will help you evaluate how you used your time during the past week, and how you can prioritize your activities for the week ahead. The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. In fact, we live in a world our questions create.
Questions for evaluation
These questions are designed to help you evaluate and gain perspective of the effectiveness of your activities for the past week.
- Which goals did I achieve?
- What empowered me to accomplish these goals?
- What challenges did I encounter?
- How did I overcome them?
- Was accomplishing these goals the best use of my time?
- Did my focus on these goals blind me to unexpected opportunities for better use of my time?
- What can I learn from the week as a whole?
- Which goals did I not achieve?
- Did anything keep me from accomplishing these goals?
- As a result of the choices I made, did I use my time in better ways than I had planned?
- What unmet goals should I carry into the coming week?
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Questions for planning your week
These are bold questions to motivate you to set goals that will stretch and strengthen you. Let your answers scare you a bit—your goals should both scare and excite you. Set a goal that you can’t achieve until you grow into the person who can.
- What will I do this week that I’ll talk about for the rest of my life?
- What results do I want to see by the end of the week?
- Will I go as far as I am able?
- Is this a big enough challenge?
- Am I bold enough?
- What’s one or two things I could do this week that would make a tremendous positive difference in each of my life’s role?
- What’s the most exceptional thing I will do this week?
- What can I do this week that no one will expect from me?
- What will stand out for me?
- How did I go against the crowd?
- What real difference will I make to the people around me?
- Is this the best I can give?
- What will empower me to accomplish these goals?
- What challenges will I encounter?
- How will I overcome those challenges?
Planning, prioritizing, scheduling
Don’t stop now! You might have a list of very exciting goals, but a list by itself is useless. The next step in your weekly personal planning session is to break each goal into action items—list all of the activities and put them in sequence.
You can do anything you want, but not everything… force yourself to prioritize each activity to ensure you’ll have the time to accomplish your most important items.
Next, decide how much time each activity will require—and begin to transfer your prioritized activities (the steps you’ll take to accomplish your goal by the end of the week) to specific times during the week on your calendar. Prioritizing time is a key to success!
Assigning work to specific times reduces the urge to procrastinate—you no longer have to decide what to do during a given period—the decision is already made!
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Included in every edition of PlanPlus Online is the free Mission Statement Builder and tools to help you plan your week and prioritize your day.