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Stop Prioritizing Other People’s Problems

It’s easy to get hooked on urgency. You pride yourself on being super-responsive. When someone calls, you answer. When the email pours in, you are on it, responding to everything and everyone in real time. You move from helping one person with their problem to tackling the next person’s priorities.

Bad idea.

To produce the best results you are capable of, you have to stop putting other people’s problems and priorities first.

Your Sacred Time

The problem with being addicted to urgency and being super-responsive is that you crowd out your own priorities. You allow everyone else’s needs to dominate your time, and by doing so, you never make time for your most important priorities. Isn’t this true for you? Isn’t it true sometimes?

Your email is the greatest vehicle ever invented for ensuring that other people’s problems and priorities dominate your day. The problem with email is that you have made no agreement to help tackle someone else’s problems or help them with their priorities, but you feel all of these unmade obligations staring you in the face when you look at your inbox.

Whether it’s email, voice mail, or face-to-face interruptions that darken your doorway, you have to make your biggest priorities your own. You have to make sure that you protect your sacred time to work on your biggest initiatives and your biggest priorities.

Process and Plan Commitments

Even though you may not have obligated yourself to help tackle someone else’s problems or priorities, there are some problems and priorities that are going to need your time and attention. To wean yourself from your addiction to urgency, reactiveness, and SEP’s (someone else’s problems or priorities), you process those requests at one time.

After you have kept your sacred time, you can then review the requests others have made of you, taking on the obligation to help the people that need your help, and renegotiating some of the commitments that have been made without your consent in the form of emails, voice mails, and interruptions.

Prioritizing your work first doesn’t mean that you ignore other people’s needs. And it doesn’t mean that you treat other people’s requests as unimportant or irrelevant. What it means is that you honor the commitments that you have made to yourself the same way you honor the commitments that you make to other people: you keep them!

Without making sure you have taken care of your priorities first, the world will make demands of you that will crowd out your biggest priorities. Stop putting other people priorities and problems first, and make time to do the work you were made to do.

Questions

Do you block sacred time each day to the work that really matters?

Why do we feel so much pressure to keep commitments we have made to others but not the commitments we have made to ourselves?

Do you ever feel like someone else’s request obligates you to respond? Do you ever feel that that obligation takes precedence over your own priorities, even though you haven’t yet consented to help?

Can you take care of you first? Would that make you a better you when you show up to help other people with their priorities and problems?

When will you start making time for your priorities and your dreams? Right now, maybe?


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