Be Wise…..Prioritize!

Now we know Santa manages a large staff and produces a huge volume of products.  He is obviously very skilled at producing the right culture and motivating a very large workforce with a variety of talents.  I’m sure he deals with the budgetary constraints that come from running a worldwide enterprise.

Yet there is also a great tip, not just for managers and leaders, but for each one of us individually.  Just like Santa, each one of us must prioritize if we are to navigate successfully.  And what would that be?  How about make a list and check it twice?

Here are 4 things we can learn from Santa.

1. Make A “To Do” List. Santa is very good at making the most of time.  Like Santa, our “to do” list helps us organize our daily activities.  When I say lists, I’m not just talking about “don’t forget to pick up the milk”.  I’m talking about seeing your list as a part of your personal goals and strategies for living.

2. Put Them In The Right Order. This brings perspective to your list.  You are now in a position to see the priorities in your list.  Rather than see it as a “things to do” list, see it more as “things that have to get done” list.  Make sure you are doing the right things—the things that are important to you.

This is where the Pareto Principle comes into play.  The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto brought to light a principle that helps everyone achieve more with less effort.  It’s been called the 80/20 Principle.  80% of your productivity is brought about by 20% of your effort.  The percentages may change depending on what you are doing, but the formula shows the imbalance between what you do and what you get out of it.  Well-place effort will result in what you really want.  To look at it another way, most of your efforts in achieving what you want are irrelevant to what you really want or value.  Only you can determine what those very few things are, that if done well, can make the difference in your life.

As you make your list of things that have to get done, take the time to prioritize them.  It’s time well spent.  Remember these are goals and strategies for what’s important to you.  So if you have 10 things on your list and you only accomplish the top 2, chances are you will have accomplished 80% of what’s important to you.  Not having them in the right order could result in you accomplishing 8 of the “to do’s”, yet only doing 20% of what’s really important to you.

It’s not just how hard you work.  It’s how hard you prioritize.  Getting the order right puts your priorities where they need to be.  The Pareto Principle is not a law of nature.  It is simply an observation.  The point is that effort and reward are not distributed evenly.

Most of the work in productivity is done up front with putting things in the right order of priority.  This has everything to do with your perspective and the corresponding personal strategy.

This goes along with “The Law of Diminishing Returns”. In other words, each additional hour spent usually results in accomplishing less.  I personally discover that at the end I am spending lots of time on minor details.

Knowing how to prioritize and WHAT to prioritize is the key.  Ordering priorities gives order to my life.  This in turn allows us space and energy to help bring order to those around us.

Knowing that we need a horse and getting one is great.  Knowing that we need a wagon and getting one is terrific.  Yet if we place the cart before the horse we will not be nearly as productive as if we placed the horse before the cart.

Having things out of order or sequence results in wasted effort.  Not understanding the order of priorities in our lives results in less power to succeed.

3. Make a “To Don’t” List. It’s easy for me to get distracted and chase things—good things—but not the best things.  I have actually made a “To Don’t” list.  I look at those “wonderful” opportunities and then give myself permission not to do them. We live in a target-rich environment.  So many things are distractions—and I’m not talking about bad things.  Make sure your list matches what’s important to you.  If they don’t, put them on the other list!

4. Stay The Course. Your prioritized Things To Get Done list is both focused and concise.  It’s your action plan for the day.

Just like Santa, forget about managing time and focus on managing priorities.  Time takes care of itself when the right things get done.  As Roy Disney once said, “When priorities are clear, decision-making is easy.

Set the right priorities, and on behalf of LeadershipTraq, have a Merry Christmas! 🙂


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