If you are to have a productive and fulfilling year, what must you do? You deal with things that are urgent in many areas. Do you consider yourself enough of a priority to make your well-being an urgent matter?

Pick one or two actions that can bring you closer to having 2018 be the year you want it to be. Make them urgent and you will get them done!


photo: geralt, pixabay.com

The Power of Saying No

Sometimes, it is hard to say no. There may be external pressures, you see saying no as failure, you fear the consequences of saying no or you want to please. However, saying no can be a productive and positive thing to do, both for you and your team. Its power lies in setting boundaries, realistically assessing situations, making sure you can deliver and in honoring the need for balance.

Here are some things to consider when you are deciding whether to say no.

• Who is asking and what does their involvement mean to your team?

• How important is the request to your and your team’s performance?

• Are there higher priorities that take precedence over this request?

• Are you and/or your team at your max or close to burnout?

• Is this something that needs to get done and that you and your team want to go all out for?

• Is this something that will bring rewards that you and your team feel are worth the push?

• Is the urgency of this request caused by your actions or actions of others?

• What are the consequences of saying no?

• Are there alternatives that will allow you to deliver, but with some changes to the request (e.g. a later deadline, more resources)?

• Does saying yes, dishonor you, your team, your values or your mission?

Saying no deserves your time and consideration. In times when whether you can deliver is uncertain, saying no can be a positive step for you and your team.

Managing Your Priorities By Doing Nothing

Yes, sometimes you can best manage your priorities by doing nothing. What is a priority anyway? It’s a task at the front of the queue. The doing nothing comes in for tasks not in the front of the queue. Can you ignore these secondary tasks until your priorities are handled? Yes, you can. Because getting distracted, voluntarily or involuntarily, often ensures that nothing at all gets done.

One way to manage your priorities is to limit what you define as a priority. There can’t be too many of them in one day.  Schedule time to complete your priorities realistically, considering things such as “must go to” meetings. Your priorities may be big ones that can’t be completed in a day. If that is the case, “chunk them down” into daily tasks that move you forward to completion.

As I faced this issue of how to manage my priorities, I came up with a system that was very effective for me. At the beginning of each day, I would determine what priorities needed my immediate attention. I would schedule several tasks for that day that would move me forward on my priorities. I would limit the tasks I scheduled to things I could complete in half of my day. I would focus on these tasks until they were completed, not allowing distractions to derail me. Once they were done, I still had time in my day to do other things.  This system created movement and accomplishment and increased my capacity for focus and completion.

What about those distractions? You have to practice discernment and create boundaries to deal with distraction. True emergencies must be dealt with, but you don’t have to let yourself be thrown off course by “the crisis of the day”.  Sometimes distraction can be caused by overwhelm and not knowing what to do next. Doing nothing on non-priorities and non-emergency distractions allows movement. You will get things done. The distractions will minimize, both through sharpening your own focus and as others realize that your focus is on your true priorities.

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“Make It Happen” – Are You Ready to Lead?

As a manager, how often do you hear the phrase “Make it Happen” in your workplace?  Translation: “Get it done, I can’t help you.“ Sometimes you hear it because your boss wants you to be more resourceful and independent. Other times, you hear it because your boss cannot help you, but still wants you to get it done. In the latter case, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have what you need – the pressure to deliver is forcing your boss to force you.

If you can be more independent and resourceful, stretch and get it done. If the reality is that you do not have the resources, support or what you need to get it done, how do you respond? Here are some things to think about.  Look at the priority of this situation-does it warrant your attention at this time? If not, let it go and come back to it later. If it is a compelling priority, assess what is possible with what you have. Can you push a bit harder with your team and get it done? Can you do a quality job with what you have now? If the answer to these questions is yes, do your best and make it happen.  If the answer is no, it is time for you to lead. Use your brains, innovation and manager smarts to figure out a path forward. Will you say “no, I cannot, but this is what I can do”? Will you ask for help? Will you come up with an alternate plan?

Next time you hear “make it happen”, be ready to lead.

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