Jan 16 / Jackie Kennedy

How I’m Redefining My Approach to Time This Year

It’s that time of year again when most of us are jotting down what we want to prioritise for the next 12 months. Family, health, more days spent in nature. We can’t do it all, all the time. Which means we actually need to prioritise our priorities (thanks for the advice, Steven Covey!).

For some this may come easy. They just intuitively know what to say yes to and what to say no to. But for some of us, myself included, this is incredibly hard to do. I see an opportunity in most engagements and don’t want to miss out on the possibility of something great happening or a connection that could be made! I know, this is most definitely FOMO (fear of missing out). And while saying yes has worked out for me a number of times, there is always an opportunity cost to every choice made. Despite setting priorities last year, I still found myself saying yes to things that I should have said no to.

While reading Shane Parrish's latest book, Clear Thinking, it got me thinking about my approach to time and prioritisation in 2024. Perhaps some of his reminders will be helpful for you too. This is my five point plan I’m working on…

1. Say no to things that don’t align with current priorities. I can only do this if I am super clear on what my priorities are. What do I need to focus on right now at work and what is the priority for the week? What needs to happen at home today and this week? Sometimes saying no to one thing, allows us to say yes to something even more in tune with our objective.

2. Avoid busy work. Now this is a hard one. We all get caught up in ‘busy work’ from time to time. I’m coming back to the questions, am I actually shifting the needle? Am I pushing things forward? What is the most important thing that I need to work on each year/quarter/week/day to move things forward? Once I know what this is, I carve out the time for it and EAT the BIG FROG first! 

3. Protect my energy. My energy levels impact my outlook, how I react and respond and how I experience life and work. If spending quality time with my daughter is a top priority for me this year (which it is!) then I need to manage my energy levels in order to be present and connected to her. If my energy is depleted, then this is going to be hard. What do I value most and how do I want to ‘be’ and ‘feel’ when I am involved in each of these priorities? This is important because being and feeling provide a framework for practice and experience and can let you know when you are no longer on track.

4. Communicate where I’m at. Emotions and energy are contagious and we all need to take responsibility for how we show up each day. Of course, some days we just are in a funk of feeling ‘off.’ That’s totally allowed. But I want to be aware of how energy like this spreads and I want to be mindful that I communicate clearly if I am feeling this way.

5. Commit to quality standards. It’s not uncommon to do some work (maybe even busy work) and then kick it to the next person to take over before it’s really at a quality standard. While I don’t think everything needs to be perfect before handing it over or putting it out into the world, I do believe in keeping the bar high. Time is a valuable resource and Parrish's narrative serves as a reminder that to produce our best work, we must guard our time fiercely.

What is the one thing you can do differently this year to improve the way you use your time?

Beyond the individual level, Parrish's insights about team dynamics have sparked contemplation about the collective energy within work environments. I'm increasingly aware of how my contributions, as well as those of my colleagues, shape our team culture. The book underscores the importance of clarity and meticulous planning, and setting a high quality standard for the work we put out!

If you are a leader, help others get clear on their priorities so they can stay focused and know what needs to be completed - no one wants to feel like their efforts are going to waste or won't be utilised. Prioritisation creates a sense of achievement, commitment, alignment and purpose in teams.

How can you ensure your team is clear on what the priorities are today, this week and this year?

Prioritising time is an ongoing journey, and I'm excited to see how these practices will transform my daily life and contribute to a more focused and fulfilling year for me personally and for the LeadMe Academy team!

Does any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear!
Let's connect on email at jackie@leadme.academy
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