Zooming Out {On Priorities}

In which we continue our home management binder series with a chat about priorities…

Recently I had the unbelievable opportunity to sit under the teaching of Dr. John Maxwell for the day. It’s not often one gets a chance to hear first hand from a person who is the best in the world at what they do. John Maxwell is world renown for his leadership ability and for how he has led hundreds of thousands to achieve their leadership potential. When he speaks on success, he knows what he’s talking about. When he tells people how to influence people, they listen.

I’ve gleaned a lot of direction for my passions from John’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, but to hear him speak about them live was incredible. He is a very funny speaker, just sitting on a stool on the stage, totally laid back — you can tell he’s found what he loves to do.

He told a story from a few years ago, about going to the doctor for a check up on his heart. John knew he was overweight, so, being the leader that he is, he decided to beat the doctor to the punch. When the doctor came in, he said, “Doc, I know I have some weight management to do.”

The doctor looked at him and said calmly, “Oh, no, John. You don’t need to manage your weight…”

John heaved a sigh of relief…too soon.

The doctor continued,”John, you’re FAT. You need to LOSE weight, not manage it!”

He used this story to illustrate how hard we work to ‘manage’ time. Time can’t be managed. You can’t make it longer or shorter. John knows the key to fulfillment and productivity is managing our priorities.

Law #17 of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is “The Law of  Priorities”. This law says that

“Leaders Understand That Activity Is Not necessarily Accomplishment”.

In my my pursuit of peace and productivity in my days, this truth has made such a difference. Yes, it takes time and discipline to sit down and sort through all we have to do and decide what is most important. But without a clear view of our priorities, we can work all day and still not sleep at night because goals are not being reached.

When I first heard this law, I didn’t really think it would make that much difference in my day. I was a dedicated list maker, often itemizing the list according to priorities. I really didn’t see how prioritizing any more could really help my days to feel less busy AND more productive. Little did I know.

See, when you’re right up close to something (in the middle of your day) it’s hard to see the whole picture. Checking Facebook can seem terribly urgent at 10am, 1pm and just before you make dinner (I know it does for me some days!). But when you back up (viewing, say, what you really want to accomplish this week or in the next year) getting dinner on the table for your family without being rushed, and having time to read a great book for 30 min. each day seems WAY more important than checking facebook, or even email more than once a day.

Do you see? Listing your priorities is an act of stepping back to view the whole picture. You should only zoom in again once you have a guide. Actually sitting down and putting my big picture priorities on paper has had a significant impact on the hours and tasks in my day.

I hope sharing my journey has encouraged you to take just a half hour this week to figure out what your true goals are. Sit down and ask yourself

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What is my ultimate purpose?
  • What do I hope to accomplish in the next year?
  • What do I hope to accomplish in the net five years?

(These questions are from the Goals Worksheet Printable at Life Your Way. I’ve filled out one for each one of my key goals)

Answering  these questions can help you order your home management binder and your life.

Next I’m going to show you how I take the vision gained from ‘zooming out’ to create a guide for my daily activities.

2 responses to “Zooming Out {On Priorities}”

  1. Jess Avatar

    I know I feel much more productive when I make a list and stick to it, not flitting about with a bunch of other nonsense. I know I have a major facebook addiction, the problem is a lot of people don’t email anymore, but message through FB. Bah!

    Sounds like a wonderful conference.

  2. Rachel Avatar

    Great advice. This week I’ve been amazed at how much reading I’m able to get done when I don’t bother with checking facebook more than once :). And the good news is, I’m not really missing anything! Brian Tracy wrote (in Eat That Frog) about how we waste so much time checking the news throughout the day (or in my case, the newsfeed!). He said that if something really important happened, someone else will tell you about it. Let them waste their time instead of you :). That thought has profoundly affected my ability to prioritize!

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