So, you’ve clarified your purpose and now use a methodical approach to priority-management. What could possibly go wrong?
The wheels will fall off a personal priority management system if we believe our worth and integrity depends on what other people may think of us; if we’re not able to set and hold boundaries with people; if we tend to lose it (freak out, spin out or lash out) when we’re under pressure; or if we have difficulty confronting and negotiating around differences.
Attitudinal obstacles to priority management
Major pitfalls may lie in our attitudes, mindsets or mental models. These might include compulsions or unhealthy tendencies to –
- be constantly over-busy
- avoid delegating work to others because we don’t want to inconvenience or upset them
- be constantly liked or approved of by others
- avoid being seen as different
- yield with little or no resistance to people who want our attention and involvement, without first considering and balancing their importance relative to our own priorities
- let our minds and activities explore interesting but aimless rabbit-holes at the cost of real priorities
- avoid conflict.
Attitude management and interpersonal confidence are essential for dealing with those hurdles. I have three sources of support available for these matters:
- EVEN UNDER PRESSURE helps develop attitudes and habits of mind for personal resilience. Strong themes include stress reduction and prevention, developing mindfulness, emotional agility and attitude management practices, limiting conflict, and containing crises.
- My interpersonal communication skills self-appraisal (and/or training programme) provides guidelines and support for improved confidence in self expression and conflict resolution practices.
- Much of my one-to-one coaching of leaders and managers involves helping them learn to manage attitudes through developing metacognition, challenging and modifying learned mind-sets, and applying mindfulness practices. A frequent first step involves helping them become skilled at bringing their unconscious attitudes to awareness.
Jennifer Garvey-Berger has written Cultivating Time, a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece about how we might make better use of our time and enjoy our experience of it more. She is the author of Changing on the Job and co-author with Keith Johnston, of Simple Habits for Complex Times. All of those resources address issues of self- and attitudinal-management. I highly recommend their work.
The 100 year-old Ivy Lee (“stupidly simple”) approach to To-do lists may help order your priorities once you’ve determined them.
David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He explains one simple tip in this 105 seconds video.
I made some easy and helpful changes to my workplace immediately after reading this blog: Work your space before your space works you.
In Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg “explores the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think—rather than what you think—can transform your life”.
Olga Khazan interviews Charles Duhigg in Procrastinate Better. Warning: the interview is full of interesting rabbit-holes.