As wedding pros we never advance to the point where we no longer need to prioritize. It something we must keep doing whether we’re running a large conference, managing a mid-sized catering business, or running a one-person photography business. We always run out of time before we get everything that needs-to-be-done, done. Our time continues to be our most valuable (and limited) resource. So, we need to prioritize what we do with that time.
One of the challenges we have as business owners is the number of things we could do with our time. Most of us get hit with a barrage of demands, requests, offers and ideas every week that fill our schedule. We could be busy doing what others want us to do…forever. That’s why we need to prioritize where we invest our time based upon the value of the activity.
BUSY DOESN’T EQUAL PRODUCTIVE
Just because we’re busy, doesn’t mean we’re getting valuable work done. We often allow ourselves to spend time on things that don’t add the most value to our businesses. (As a public speaker myself, I often catch myself spending way too much time refining the slides I use in my presentations.) If we’re not intentional, or mindful, about how we spend our day, we can lose a huge amount of our most valuable resource…time. When we’re so busy with things that don’t truly add worth to our business, we’re not getting the most value from how we use our time.
BE INTENTIONAL…HAVE A PLAN
So how do we stop wasting so much time on unproductive activities? Have a plan. Set our priorities. And allocate your time accordingly. Of course, we’ll all need to budget some time for ‘stuff’ that just happens and needs our attention. But the real pros are intentionally proactive in prioritizing and scheduling their time, rather than simply reacting to barrage of demands that come at them. They put their priorities into their schedules before they open spots for all the other things that could otherwise fill their calendars.
HOW TO SET PRIORITIES: THE 3 R’S
The obvious final question is, how do we best set priorities? I’ve learned to do it based upon the 3 R’s: responsibility, return, and reward.
There are certain things that ONLY we can do. These are what we must be ‘responsible’ for. The classic ‘Dale’ example is that we can hire someone to mow our lawn, but we can’t hire someone to exercise for us. Within our businesses we are solely responsible for such things as making hiring decisions, setting strategy, and making major purchases.
These are the activities that provide the highest return (to our business) on our time invested. These include things such as sales conversations, identifying our target market, onboarding new clients. As a general statement, time invested in effective marketing and sales activities have much higher returns than more administrative activities.
These are the activities that are most rewarding (to us personally). These are the activities, in our business, that we enjoy the most. They tend to energize us and reduce stress or anxiety.
FINALLY: IMPORTANT vs. URGENT
In setting our priorities, it’s most valuable to prioritize the most important activities first, duh! But we also have to deal with the balance between urgent and important. Urgent activities have a short time dimension to them, therefore, can’t be put off for very long. In a sense, it’s ‘important’ that they be handled soon, or you’ll miss out on the ‘value’ of the activities. Sorta’ like handing in your homework after the due date. No point!
The easiest way to think about this balance is to increase the level of importance of activities as the urgency builds as you near their due date.
So, to make sure we’re not fooling ourselves into thinking that ‘activity equals accomplishment’ or ‘busy is the same as productive’, we should intentionally focus on setting priorities and ensuring our most important and valued work gets done first.