Where Are Your Priorities – Really?

Everyone’s really busy. I am. And so’s everyone else. ‘Crazy busy’. ‘Frantic’. ‘Manic’. ‘Totally swamped’. ‘Flat out’. And I’m wondering why.

Surely there’s less work around if we’re still bumping along in a flat-lining economy? Nope. Sure there are fewer jobs, in certain sectors. However, in my part of the world, people seem to be doing more work, as organisations take on more projects – but not the employees to deliver them. So people have more on their plate.

Surely there’s less for us to do if we’ve got all this amazing technology to lighten the load? Funny one that: I’m old enough to remember an economics teacher who predicted that the future would be an age of leisure thanks to labour-saving technology. Ha! We’re all seemingly addicted to the stuff, or at best managing our addictions. ‘Horizontal email’ (checking our inbox whilst in bed) is apparently common. Yet I suspect that when we hear the all-too-common refrain, “I haven’t got time”, the speaker would be lost for words if we asked them how many hours a day they’re spending on technology. Add it up: for most of us it’s a lot. Of course some of it is essential: that email that must go out today, that conference call – but some of it isn’t. Much of it is just our unthinking, default, dawdling around the stuff.

I like Laura Vanderkam’s challenge to change our language around where our time is going: from “I haven’t got time” to, “It’s not a priority”. Oooh, how bold. And how necessary. So, “I haven’t got time to trawl through all my emails” becomes, “I haven’t trawled through all my emails because it’s not a priority”. “I haven’t got time to spend an hour on Facebook today”, becomes, “I’m not spending an hour on Facebook today because it’s not a priority”.

And try these: “I haven’t got time to sit down with my team and update them”, becomes, “I haven’t updated my team because it’s not a priority” – really? Or, “I haven’t got time to meet up friends tonight”, becomes, “I’m not meeting up with friends tonight because it’s not a priority” – hmm…

Flip this round and we can identify what our priorities ARE, and keep saying (if only to ourselves), “I’m focusing on my team first thing this morning because they’re a priority”. “I’m meeting my friends tonight, because they’re a priority”.

Different, isn’t it?

Click here for Laura Vanderkam’s WSJ article.

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