Consider this Peter Drucker quote: Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.
Hmm…but how do you know if you’re doing the right things or not? Many of us do things out of habit, or because other people expect us to. But where is that getting you? Is it getting you where you want to go? It’s easy to choose the right activities once you’re clear on your priorities and goals!
Our main priorities in life don’t change over time. For example, family is either important to you or it isn’t. Or physical fitness, or spiritual growth. I encourage my time management clients to choose 3-6 major categories to focus on. It also helps to be clear on what that looks or feels like to YOU.
Here, I’ll share my own categories:
HOME: Maintain a peaceful, comfortable, beautiful home for myself and my guests.
WORK: Do some good in the world, make money, and have fun doing it.
SELF: Maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
OTHERS: Stay in touch and do what I say I’m going to do.
So, I love my family, but for me that falls under OTHERS. For you FAMILY could be a category unto itself. My SELF category contains goals that might be separate priorities for you. But 3-6 major categories is plenty to keep track of, since each category will contain one or more goals related to that priority.
Your goals, on the other hand, will change over time. For example, when your children are young one of your FAMILY goals may be to raise them to functional adulthood and get them out of the house all in one piece. Later your goal may be to stay in touch, and maintain relationships, with your adult children and your grandchildren. Your health goal one year might be to start exercising and eating healthy. The next year your goal may be to learn yoga, or to train for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Your activities either support your goals… which support your priorities… or they don’t. Getting clear on your goals and priorities gives you a framework for making decisions about how to spend your time. I recommend writing them down and reviewing them periodically Example: A friend suggests you train together to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. For most people the enormous amount of time and effort involved, no matter how fun it may sound, does NOT support their stated goals and priorities. It would, in fact, detract from many of them significantly. But, then again, if you are a particular organizing colleague of mine, it is indeed one of your bucket-list goals! Keeping your priorities and goals in mind makes it easier to say YES or NO to new opportunities.
Next time you are doing something ask yourself, “Does this support my goals and priorities? Which ones? Am I doing the right things?” Purge activities from your schedule that don’t support your priorities and goals. They are just another form of clutter! And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it, and to delegate or hire out tasks when reasonable to do so. You don’t have to do it all yourself!
I keep thinking of this old saying….this is the version I like best, and how I first heard it:
If you keep on doin’ whatchyer doin’, yer gonna keep on gettin’ whatchya got!
And, more importantly, whatchya want… hmm?
Copyright 2014 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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Nicely written! As we head into a new season it’s a nice reminder to think about our goals or make a fresh start. Another saying I like is “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
You know what, Sarah? I like that one even better. Thanks!
I say that I want a peaceful, comfortable, beautiful home, but I don’t make it a priority, usually choosing WORK over HOME. Today I made an exception – just spent a couple of hours cleaning out my office closet. Got rid of two years’ worth of old files (ready to take for shredding), threw out some sad old picture frames, hung up a forgotten needlepoint, and posted a bunch of stuff on a Give & Receive group on Facebook. It feels good!
Your comment made me realize how closely related this post is to another one I wrote. Maybe this will help you a bit more with your priorities: http://www.org4life.com/the-chinese-menu-style-of-time-management/ What do you think, Janet?