Schedule your priorities not prioritise your schedule

For a long time now, time management experts have extolled the virtues of tasks or schedules and then to prioritise them.

Whilst this in itself is a good endeavour, a more effective method to achieve one’s outcomes is to set key priorities and to schedule them.

Too often our days and weeks are dictated by email, social media and other sometimes meaningless distractions. We are reactionary in our behaviours. The urgency of the immediate takes precedence over the important.

On reflection, I have noticed how often my calendar is filled with meetings – often requested by others. It is difficult to avoid them, let alone prioritise them.

Recently, when I’ve had important work to be done – even if it is to simply stop and think, to strategise to research, to write, to understand, to be – I have started the habit of prioritising this time in my calendar.

I find it best to do this as the very start of my day. I try to get to my office at 7.30am, close the door and work. That first hour is scheduled to ensure I accomplish my priorities. If there are other important matters that need my attention, I schedule these in blocks of time in my calendar from time to time either during the day or at night when I have the least distractions. But scheduling them in, lets me get it done.

Far too often we fill our calendar with meetings and other priorities. Effectiveness requires us to first schedule our own priorities rather than simply prioritise our schedules or tasks.