(#87) Priority Management: Are You Doing the Right Things or Are You Just Doing Stuff?

We cannot stop time, create time, or control time.
But we all can effectively manage our priorities.

Time management is a myth.  Can’t be done.  I can manage my finances (spend less, earn more). I can manage my weight (eat less, exercise more). I can even manage my stress level (rant less, breathe more).  But I can’t manage time. I cannot get more of it. I cannot save some from this week and place it toward next week.  Nope, I can’t.  Like you, I have 168 hours in every week. I can’t rearrange them.

What I can do is manage my priorities. That is something we all can do. Those little choices we make each day are a window to our priorities.  [Image by Naypong/Free DigitalPhotos.net]

My students complete an activity titled “Where Does Your Week Go?” It is a simple listing of what they do each day for a week.  They then rank each activity from “not necessary” to “extremely necessary.”

“Necessary” in this context means “does the stuff you fill your life with connect to your priorities?”  In short, does the “stuff you do” get you closer to what you say are your goals? Doing a lot of stuff is NOT the same as doing the right stuff.

Another way to look at this is to determine whether your activities are negotiable or non-negotiable. For a single parent the care of his/her child is non-negotiable.  Likewise, your physical health is non-negotiable.  Three hours spent on social media each day falls, more than likely, in the negotiable category. Look at your list of activities for a week. Are they negotiable or non-negotiable? Are you doing the right things or are you just doing stuff?


Video recommendation for the week:

The video below provides a memorable visual about what happens when we get sidetracked in life and fill our days with the small stuff—the negotiable items. 

A note about the video. It is in three parts: (1) the set up; (2) the problem; and (3) the conclusion and lesson.  Listen to the great observations and thoughts from the folks participating in this video with me. Classroom teachers who may be reading this blog: Consider this as one way to introduce and/or reinforce the concept of priority management to your students. You could actually show it in three segments; pause the video after each segment; have the students write a reflection; then conclude with a group discussion.  Have fun with it!


Your Homework. A money budget can help you determine where your money comes from and where it goes.  It can be a tedious process—but it is a necessary exercise for building wealth.  The same with a time budget.  Keeping track of everything you do for 168 hours can provide interesting insights about how you actually use your time.  So, for the next 7 days, keep a log of how your time is used. Record your sleep, your meals, your social media use, exercise, and time spent with your kids, spouse, and friends.  Don’t forget your transportation time to and from work or school; even brushing your teeth. Record everything.  And remember, the total number of hours MUST add up to 168 hours.  Once you have completed the log, judge the nature of each hour in your week on a scale from 1 (not necessary) to 5 (extremely necessary).  And then answer for yourself: Am I doing the right things or am I just doing stuff?

Best wishes this week as you focus on your necessary (non-negotiable) priorities, minimize the unnecessary (negotiable) activities, and activate positive new habits!

For more information on priority management, see my new book Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? 3rd edition (Pearson Education). Please visit my website (www.stevepiscitelli.com), contact me at steve@stevepiscitelli.com, or visit Pearson Education,  Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli) and click on the “LIKE” button. Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!

© 2012. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.

 

10 Responses to (#87) Priority Management: Are You Doing the Right Things or Are You Just Doing Stuff?

  1. gracegalape says:

    Wow! Great article you got. I agree with you about managing priorities to avoid wasting time to those less results-producing activities. I actually came across a video that talks about how to spend your time on the right stuff. It’s a great video too. http://marieforleo.com/2011/05/spending-time-stuff/

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  2. carltonlg says:

    This activity is a good organization tool. It helps ,in ways of displaying how to better prepare for tasks, and dates. Results are moving forward to the next task with better quality of life. I would recommend this.

    Like

  3. carltonlg says:

    This activity is a good organization tool. It helps ,in ways of displaying how to better prepare for tasks, and dates. Results are moving forward to the next task with better quality of life. I would recommend this.

    Carlton Goodman

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  4. […] have written about this in a previous blog post (Priority Management: Are You Doing the Right Things or Are You Just Doing Stuff?). At that time I said, “Look at your list of activities for a week. Are they negotiable or […]

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  5. […] students is how they use their precious hours in a day. They need to differentiate between the negotiable and non-negotiable items in their lives and put their focus and actions on what will bring them closer to their […]

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  6. […] written on this blog in the past about priorities ((#100) Milestones: Endpoints or Checkpoints? and (#87) Priority Management: Are You Doing the Right Things or Are You Just Doing Stuff?) and the need to focus efforts on what is important in our lives.  We cannot manage time. It […]

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  7. […] (#87) Priority Management: Are You Doing the Right Things or Are You Just Doing Stuff […]

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  8. […] Priorities. Know what is non-negotiable in your life. What are the must-haves and must-dos on your way to the dream? Don’t betray yourself […]

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  9. […] and disappoints team members.  When they become negotiable (due to missed or late deadlines, meetings, or phone calls) the kicker has announced that they are […]

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  10. […] an alternative location to conduct work, at best, how restorative is that?  If vacation becomes negotiable, then what is the impact on resilience?  At least, we need to be aware of our answers (or […]

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