And why am I always putting out fires?
Priorities… Everybody has them but everyone’s priorities are personal. While I cannot tell you what your priorities are, I can help you find them. And I can help you work on them more intentionally.
If I were to have you list out your top 5 priorities and then your top 5 time-consuming activities, they probably wouldn’t match up very well. Because the truth is that while we usually know what our priorities are, we struggle to find time for them.
Why? Because we are putting out fires, that’s why!
Let me demonstrate this to you using Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Priority Matrix. This is not new to you, but how we are going to approach it probably is.
The Priority Matrix
You have four quadrants with two dividing lines. The line running north and south is the hierarchy of importance. The line running east and west is our measurement of urgency.
Into these four quadrants go the goals and activities of our lives. This means that we have some goals and activities that are urgent and important. Some that are urgent, but not important. Others that are important, but not urgent. And finally, we have the non-urgent and non-important activities.
Most people will tell you to focus on the first quadrant – the important and urgent activities. But I’m going to tell you something different. Quadrant #1 is where the fires are happening. Important and urgent activities include towing your car to the shop after it has broken down on the side of the road, taking a sick child to the doctor, or packing at the last minute for your family’s vacation. Some of us live primarily in quadrant #1, always putting out fires. 😉
A Different Approach
I believe that we should be focusing our time and attention on quadrant #2. These are the important, but not urgent activities. These are the quiet priorities that can be easily ignored but then burst into flames if not tended to. Into this quadrant go things such as regular car maintenance, exercise, food preparation, staying on top of laundry, and other household tasks.
Here are some common goals and activities placed into the Priority Matrix. Notice how tending to the quiet priorities of quadrant #2 can prevent the fires of quadrant #1. Also, notice that the items in quadrant #3 are really hard to say “no” to but do little to helping us maintain our personal priorities. And finally, there is quadrant #4 – the non-urgent and unimportant activities of our day that often eat up hours of our time. These also can be hard to say “no” to, but it get’s easier when we focus on quadrant #2 goals and activities.
It’s Your Turn
The activities listed in the chart are common examples. But they are not necessarily your activities and priorities. On a sheet of paper, draw the priority matrix and list YOUR goals, priorities, and activities. List out your personal and business activities on the same sheet or two different sheets. Then, give it a try. Focus on the non-urgent, but important tasks foremost each day and see if you don’t have fewer fires to put out as the week goes on.
This works the same way for your personal life as it does for your business life because let’s face it, we only have one self and one life. Let’s make the most of it. If you would like more help with balancing the demands, tasks, and goals of your life as you run your business while homeschooling your kids, sign up for my waitlist here for Mompreneur 101. Signing up does not indicate any commitment from you other than the fact that you would like to hear more about it when we re-open for registration next month.
Sign up for the waitlist here and God bless!