Stop Chasing Too Many Priorities

Feeling overloaded and overwhelmed is the norm these days. Most corporate leaders and managers feel they have too many conflicting priorities and demands and must somehow satisfy everyone, and do everything to succeed. Research has revealed that the more executives have to do, the less their company or department actually earns. In fact, the best performing companies have leaders and managers that focus on high-priority initiatives, not everything on their task list. Stop asking: How can I find more opportunities? Instead try: How can I focus on opportunities that will help me and my company excel? Find out what you are best at; the strengths and capabilities you have that others don’t, and focus on them. Learn to say no even when things seem appealing or lucrative in the short-term but do not offer you a real chance to win or succeed long-term.

3 Tips for Dealing with an Urgent Request

We live in an instant-response world where a simple push of a button can make something feel urgent. Next time you get that email with the little red exclamation point or the voicemail at 11 p.m., consider these three tips for determining how you will respond:

  1. Don’t assume urgent means right now. Find out what the person wants to accomplish and when it’s really needed. Their interpretation of “immediately” may be very different than yours and quite frankly, unrealistic. I have found that many people do not know how to discern between urgent and important. Some give-in to any important sounding request from a manager, client or supplier for action or a response without evaluating the request and assessing what is required, and what can realistically be done. Furthermore, many individuals do not know the value of their own time or how to maximize it for results leading to profitable outcomes.
  2. Respond, but don’t necessarily act. Sometimes a client or colleague wants you to commit to a plan of action immediately. Before you react, take a breath and ask some open ended questions to draw out what the key issues really are. You may find what is actually required is an acknowledgement of their situation or request and a promise to get back to them with a plan to address the issue within 24 hours. Explain what you will do and your intended timeline to be sure that it meets the person’s requirements.
  3. Be prepared to say NO! This is very difficult for many people, yet sometimes this is the only correct answer. Discerning a true crisis versus the “cry wolf” syndrome is essential. A strategic, and strong “no” response to an unrealistic or ill timed opportunity can be powerful and actually make you appear more capable and credible in the eyes of those seeking your assistance. Conversely saying yes can take valuable resources that should be allocated to existing projects that are on track and create problems by stressing people out and spreading valuable resources too thin. Don’t let the tail wag the dog!

“Only through focus can you do world-class things, no matter how capable you are.” Bill Gates

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