Your priorities and how not let anyone to interfere with them

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Last Updated on October 10, 2019 by Lucie Klabanová

(For czech version of the post click here.)

Most of the time I say that the biggest problem of time management are “disturbers” – social media, notifications of incoming emails and so on.

But today it stroke me – this is not the main problem.

Nor is it the inability to be clear about one’s own priorities, as I sometimes suspect some people.

The main destroyers of our priorities are those who try to reshuffle our priorities how they are good for them.

You can be a master of planning, and yet it happens to you. I consider myself an advanced planner. My priorities are clear – both in the long and short term. If you ask me today, I will be able to tell you 80% what I will do in the next few days and weeks.

It happens even to masters

And yet it happens to me, too. I suddenly get stuck and say, “What am I doing now?” I just find myself working on something that wasn’t even in my plan, nor it is what I should be doing right now – if I purely rationally pursue that activity with my priority assessment system and plan it properly.

So how does that happen?

There are some people who somehow discreetly put our priorities down. Simply very cleverly, though perhaps unknowingly and unintentionally, they will “stuff” their tasks among ours. If we do not realise it on time, we will find with horror at the end of our working hours that we have not done what we were supposed to and so our time management is destroyed.

What is typical for such “violators of our priorities”?

  • Mostly they are kind colleagues who just ask us for help.

  • Or they are chaotic bosses, who themselves are not clear in priorities and certainly did not attend my time management e-mail course :-) (sorry only available in czech) 

  • They do not realize how much they disrupt our operations if they put their own priorities among ours.

  • They don’t want to “hurt” us, they just don’t know how to help themselves with their time management, and they pass it on to us.

So the question arises: How to prevent such “intruders”?

  • Learn to recognize them. Practice makes perfect. See who often comes to you with tasks that are already burning. If it’s an exceptional situation, it’s okay, it can happen. But the repetition of a similar situation every week is indication of poor time management.
  • Be clear about your priorities, your tasks for the day/week. Have them written and always on your eyes, so you are always clear.
  • Be assertive – learn to say NO. It’s very nice feeling to help someone in trouble, in a critical situation. But if it’s over and over, he just makes a fool out of you. And while he probably doesn’t mean it, by always saying yes, you won’t actually help him – on the contrary. Such person should work on his or her own time management – for himself/herself and not to disrupt yours.
  • If you know that you have someone like that around you and you can’t change him or her (that can happen), count with it in your own plan. See how big part of the day / week he or she usually pulls you from your priorities and plan a spare time for it. Of course, this can only be done partially, but the longer you observe, the better you will estimate it. Try to write down the time you spent on working for that person and evaluate it over time. But set your own boundaries – situations where you simply do not comply under any circumstances.

I have been working on my time management for many years, and I am still learning. From my own mistakes and what I see around me. And I came to a simple conclusion: 

If we want to be happy in life, we must work to spend our time the way we want. But sometimes it’s really hard work!

I am a mentor, leader and pioneer of business process improvement. I help companies and individuals to find effective ways to achieve their goals. More about me you can find here>>

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