Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish in life, none of us have time to waste. As a father and entrepreneur, I know full well the value of my time and, more importantly, time management. If I hadn’t learned the value in prioritizing, there’s no way I would have made it to where I am today.
Prioritization doesn’t come naturally to everyone, however. With only so much time available to us in our day and knowing how weeks, months, and even years can slip through our fingers, it’s critical to get it right the first time.
So here’s what all of us, myself included, have to ultimately accept: our success in life hinges on our ability to get our priorities in line.
For different people, these priorities might be different. You might emphasize your work, while someone else may pour more time into their family than into making money. You have to figure out which priorities are going to pave the right path for you. Whatever path you end up on, however, these prioritization tips hold true universally.
5 Lessons About Prioritizing You Must Master to Succeed
1) Getting your priorities right starts with self-awareness.
How can you know what you need to prioritize in your life if you don’t know what you really want out of it? So many of us end up chasing the wrong things not because they’re objectively wrong, but because they’re based in what others want for us, what we think we should want, or what society dictates of us. Success is found when we have the self-awareness to know what we truly want to achieve.
Not only do we need to know what we want, we have to be honest with ourselves about all of the pointless distractions that are getting in our way. Whether it's the hour spent catching up on emails, binge-watching for hours when we get home at night, or the time lost scrolling on social media. What are your distractions and time sinks? All of us have them. We have to recognize where we’re weak and see where we’re losing valuable time.
2) Don’t allow yourself to negotiate.
We’ve all had that negotiation with the snooze button on a tough morning. Just five more minutes.
When it comes to your success, negotiation isn’t an option. If you know you need to get up that little bit earlier to get in extra work on your passion project or to eat breakfast with your family, there is no negotiating. It’s either more important or it isn’t. Once you allow yourself to let it slip, even a little, you’ll find yourself compromising your priorities until they simply aren’t your priorities anymore.
Negotiation simply isn’t on the table.
3) Make priorities true priorities.
We all have more than one goal in life. You’re no doubt juggling dozens of priorities all at once and constantly having to make micro-decisions throughout your day about what is and what isn’t important. You maybe want to fit in some “lesser” priorities if you can just so you can get it all done. Right?
Warren Buffet has a different take. He puts these lesser priorities that sit beneath your top five on an “Avoid at All Cost” list. We simply can’t focus on everything, and that’s the lesson here. If you try to do it all, you won’t get it all done, and what you do finish likely won’t be done all that well.
Instead of trying to do everything you want to get done, trim the fat. Hone in on the real priorities in your life.
4) Know your opportunity cost.
Part of prioritization involves sacrifice. Remember, we only have so much time in the day. You may have to give up binge-watching. You may have to delete your social media apps. Maybe sleeping in isn’t going to be an option anymore. If you want to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to give up some things. There’s going to be a personal cost.
It’s likely that lesser priorities will be eliminated from your life. You have to evaluate whether or not that’s something you’re willing to do.
5) Troubleshoot, evaluate, and course correct constantly.
Prioritization isn’t something you’re going to get right immediately. None of us do! As we grow, mature, and change, so do our goals and desires. Priorities from our twenties look radically different in our forties. It takes constant re-evaluation, introspection, and troubleshooting to see what really works in your life and in your individual circumstances.
Allow yourself to shift and change over time and find more efficient and effective ways of achieving your goals. Make adjustments as you go so that you can be your most productive, no matter what you choose to prioritize.
What strategies have helped you set and hold fast to the priorities that truly matter to you? Share your experience in the comments.