Priorities are not created equal!
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
Happy mid-summer and a belated 4th of July! I hope that many of you were able to take some time off with family and friends to enjoy the short lived summer that we have in Wisconsin. I was fortunate enough to have a week off with family that flew in from Houston, Texas for the week. We had a great time catching up, enjoying the water, and just relaxing. Although, like many, I feel that most of the time after vacation, I could use a vacation from vacation.
This time off, as do many of the times I have off to relax and reflect, I thought about my family, my business, and my clients, and looked at how all of these play into the priorities that we all struggle to manage.
At the mid-point of the year, many of my clients are half way through their strategic planning execution of action plans to achieve their year-end and longer-term goals. During these mid-point updates, it never fails that there are certain action items that didn’t get done because other things took priority. The first question I always ask is, “Is this still a priority moving forward, or has it changed?” Because every business is dynamic, the process of goal setting and execution also needs to be dynamic to the changing needs of the business. However, it shouldn’t be a complete reset unless there has been a major change in the core of the business, such as an acquisition, divestiture, etc.
So what denotes a priority in your business?
Some things to consider when determining priorities:
1. If you don’t do it, will you still achieve your goals?
2. Is the pace and sequence of priorities right?
3. Is it a near-term or long-term priority?
4. Are you balanced between: a) Running your business better today b) Building capability for tomorrow's business c) Growth bets for the future
Set milestones – Milestones allow for check points to see if you’re on track to the goal, but also allows for adjustment in the priority, if needed.
Both business and personal priorities require action, timelines, and accountability. In business there are factors such as the economy, customers, suppliers, etc. that cause us to adjust and shift those priorities. When it comes to our own personal priorities, whether it be family, faith, or personal development, the “urgent” tends to trump the “important.” When urgent trumps important, busy tends to take over. We all seem to be busier and busier every day, but are we really focused on our priorities.
In your personal life, take a break and think about what is really important to you. Write it down. Track what you do each day and then highlight which ones are in line with your priorities. Get rid of those items not highlighted, usually the “urgent,” or the clutter, through delegation or elimination, and replace them with the important stuff, those items that move you towards your priorities. This is not a quick fix, but a process to have you begin focusing on what’s truly important and eliminating those things that are not.
Both in business and in our personal lives, we need to be effective managers of our priorities and thus our time. There are always things that are “urgent” and can consume our time, but many of these can be eliminated or delegated.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
– Stephen Covey
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay