For centuries, explorers and other travelers have used the North Star to help them find their way.
The North Star is easy to identify and provides a clear reference point they can use to correct their course when they’ve gone off track.
This resource helps them arrive safely at the desired destination. The long-term goals and objectives you set as a leader can serve the same purpose.
Many of us set long-term goals.
We put them out there like a destination on a map and they become the shining beacon for what life and the business will be like when we finally get there.
But, in reality most of us are working in a world of constant change with fewer resources at our disposal and more tasks on our plate.
In addition, a variety of barriers may get in our way and we end up falling short of reaching those goals.
The truth is that it’s relatively easy to sit down and determine what goals we want to reach in the long-term.
It’s much more difficult to actually create an action plan, implement it, and achieve what we set out to do.
The key is in the follow through. And the key to follow through is the ability to manage our time wisely.
In today’s often overwhelming and complex business environment, it is important to narrow our focus in order to increase the probability of success.
Identify and stay focused on three to five top priorities at a time and reconnect to those top priorities on a consistent, regular basis.
Your daily and weekly plans should reflect your top priorities.
It’s up to you to make purposeful decisions about your commitments and what to focus on each day.
One of the first things you can do to more effectively manage your time is to create a task list each morning and decide how important each task is regardless of the order in which it was assigned.
Organize your work by rating each task based on a scale of importance. For example, A Tasks – Important & Urgent Today, B Tasks – Important & Not Urgent Today, and C Tasks – Not Important & Not Urgent Today.
Effective time management also calls for some self-awareness. Everyone has different habits, strengths and weaknesses.
Pay attention and analyze your work habits to identify your “Prime Time” or most productive time of day and least productive time of day.
Use this information and schedule your most complex, high-priority projects during your prime time.
Recent research also suggests that most of us can’t focus or work effectively on one thing for more than about 90 minutes at a time.
Keep this in mind and plan some breaks to help you rejuvenate. For example, take a short walk or have a snack and then return to your work with renewed energy and focus.
If you are a frequent procrastinator, pay attention and learn from the habit.
When you find yourself moving a task to another day more than once, stop and evaluate it. Why aren’t you doing it?
Is it really that important – or can you just take if off your list?
If it’s a task that must be done, as soon as you realize that you are procrastinating, just stop and get it done. You’ll feel better immediately knowing that you no longer have to worry about it!
Changing habits is never easy, but by identifying your top goals and keeping an eye on your North Star by reviewing your priorities consistently, you can work your plan and make real progress toward arriving safely, and successfully, at your desired destination.
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