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Filtering what is really important

We are often asked to take a lot at work. If we don’t pay attention to it, all becomes important and urgent. We soon get overwhelmed by all the tasks at hand, missing our ability to step back and reconsider things. If we don’t want to end up in this situation, or if we want to get away from it, here are ways to identify what is really important and get our attention.

Connect to your vision and goals

One first question to ask ourselves is: is this task helping me reach my goal?

It requires you have identified a vision and goals) for yourself or your team, as a pre-requisite. Once you have that, you can use it as an anchor to remind you where you are heading to.

For example, if you have a goal to increase revenue by 5% this year, when a request for testing a new app comes in, you might consider delegating, unless this app is a way to increase your revenue directly.

If you have a vision to become the best service provider in your market, then a request to participate to a new marketing campaign is probably not the best way to use your time. You might consider focusing on getting users’ feedbacks and help your team create this best service.

Root back to your values

Another way, to identify what is really important, is to look at our values: ours but also the ones of the organization we work for.

As for the vision and goals, it means you are clear with what these values are for you, and your team. When it is the case, you can challenge incoming request with these values: is this demand in line with our/my values?

For example, if you have a value of collaboration and you receive a request about asking only you to participate to an event, you might filter it.

Look at your boundaries

A third way to filter what’s really important from what’s not, is to know and respect your boundaries. Especially with time.

The way you use you time as a leader is clearly key to your success. You want to keep time to think strategically, then one of your time boundary is to protect these slots.

When you receive a request that will make you remove this time, be very mindful how to answer.

  • If it is less important, decline or delegate.
  • If it is as important, ask for another time or move think time but do not delete it.

Your health is always first

I kept the most important for the end: your health, especially when your time management is at stake. When your schedule is already packed, and a new project comes, be honest to yourself:

  • Is it more important than my health?
    How can I handle this project, without it impacting my work life balance?
  • If I had to prioritize my tasks again, what can I remove from my plate, to make room for this?

Finally, I’d like to offer that family (by blood or chosen) and friends are also the most important parts of your life. When you are aiming at a balanced life, step back and ask yourself: is that really important for me and come back to these roots to help you decide.

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