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"Strategic Prioritization: How to Effectively Manage and Prioritize What Matters Most"

Is productivity truly strategic for you? And as you lead your team, your business, your family and your life, how do you demonstrate that strategy?  I like to think about productivity when playing a long game.

First, let’s define a long game.  For an environmentalist, the long game might be making the environment better for someone two generations from now.  For a twelve-year-old, the long game might be getting all chores done for the next month to get the new bike.  For a parent it might be raising a child to be a loving, caring, discerning person who gets through college or trade school and becomes successfully self-sufficient.  So, the long game – your long game- is the long-term vision you have for a particular area of focus.




Now let’s define strategic.  My definition of strategic is being able to see the long game, to identify the possible paths, and to make choices to support the play of the long game. 

Most people, including me, boil down productivity to how much they got done today, this week, this month.  So, what might it look like to play the long game productively?   I’ll create a fictional Director of Operations role to help answer this question.     

Our director has a team of 37 people.  Of the 37, two are managers, one is a project lead that works across teams, and another has specialty skills and trains team members.  The remainder deliver operational functions and report to one of the two managers.  The director spends much of their day focused on leading their team to accomplish the business at hand. They spend the rest of the time focused on family and their passion pursuits.

The facets of the long game for the director are as follows.

  1. To grow career in their industry, to run a portion of the business with a team of seasoned executives.  Specific industry accomplishments and accolades are included, as well as specific financial objectives.

  2. The director has a growing family and that long game includes raising well rounded, loved children who know they can do and be whatever they please. Dreams include living in a certain area, with specific amenities as well as a second home near the mountains.

  3. Finally, as a board member for a well known philanthropic organization, the director would like to make an impact through this organization directly on his community, and for the future as his children become adults, and they and their children have opportunities with this organization. 

So how do you plan your day without losing sight of the big picture?  And furthermore, how do you give yourself permission to work on the things that contribute to the long game when there are urgent daily things that require attention?

A great tool to use in planning time is the Eisenhower Matrix.  But before you get there you need to decide will the action or decision may affect my long game in some way.  If no, you can prioritize accordingly using the Eisenhower Matrix.  If yes, you may want to prioritize focus before those normal tasks are scheduled.  




For example, my long game is to help others see how much their gifts and abilities impact this world and then to find the path that supports their purpose.  My coaching practice is focused on leaders at the intersect of their organization, doing and being all the things to run their business and team.  As I take the time to prioritize writing this blog I must ask if it supports my long game?  I could see it as merely a marketing tool.  Or I could see it as a means to communicate to you that what you want to work on matters. 

Our director has a few planning sessions.  Monthly they put all of the known things on the calendar.  If there’s a conflict, they use their long game analysis to choose.  Then weekly they plan for a half an hour to prioritize the coming two weeks in terms of adjusting, and planning tasks and activities.  The Eisenhower matrix is useful here for decision making as is evaluating against the long game.

There are times when our director can balance all the long game needs with the daily needs that come up, and there are times when that's not as possible. Sometimes our daily priorities are full of should’s. Yet, our long game is based upon our values. 

If we tie our day, week, month to prioritizing the things that matter to us, then we have the greatest chance of creating the ripple in this pond with the impact that we long for, as we play this game of life.  It's a balance, and sometimes things sway greater in one direction of the other. That's okay because those around us see what’s important to us based on how we spend our time. We can’t be everywhere at once, but we can make choices that honor our relationships and us.


 

If you want to include more long game strategy in what you’re doing, here are some questions to help you get started.  I’m going to challenge you, don’t worry about whether it’s possible.  Assume it’s all possible and if so, answer with your whole heart and mind.

  1. If you could change the world, what would you hope for? 

  2. What are your gifts?  If you don’t know, ask those closest to you (and believe them)

  3. How could you use your gifts to change the world?

  4. What are some ways you’ve seen others contribute to the change you long for?  If you haven’t, I encourage you to search and see what others are doing.

  5. Who would you want along side you in any endeavor?

  6. As the first man on the moon said… one small step…..  What are the small steps that you could prioritize in your day to play the long game? 

Consider incorporating a planning process like the one described here to incorporate those steps into your day, week, month and year.   

As you see with my director example, this person creates a long game that supports what they hope for in their lifetime (career, family) and beyond (family philanthropy).  You don’t have to conquer the world.  You just need to be you, focused and full of heart and I promise that you will make an impact.  It just takes one small step. 

If you’d like some help navigating this topic, feel free to reach out, I’d love to support you!  

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