Kill the nonessential and start being happier at work

“Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.” Greg McKeown in Essentials

Let those words sink in for a moment. 

Then, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are doing that in your work and professional life.

If you are honest with yourself, as I was when I read them, odds are you will realize that you are not genuinely intentional in all you do.

You aren’t prioritizing. You are chasing instead of owning. Wasting time instead of owning time. 

And this comes at a considerable cost. It impacts our productivity and effectiveness, but it also affects our mental health. 

I’m not kidding. 

But you can fix it.

Here are three ways to start being intentional in how you prioritize:

1: Pause.

Please take a moment (yes, you have them during the day) and reflect on what is essential to your success. Another great takeaway from McKeown’s book is his reference to a Rugby coach’s teaching his team the importance and philosophy of What’s Important Now (WIN). 

NOW matters. Not the past, and not the next meeting or next week. Too many of us lose the future fight because we don’t win the current one.

2: Communicate. 

If everything is a priority, then nothing is. It is your job as a professional to work and make all levels of the organization operate within the same commitment to priorities. 

Communication takes effort and is rarely accomplished within a short time frame. Donald Miller writes that telling your team something typically takes seven times before they understand. I mockingly tell clients I believe that to be more like 77 times…. 

3: Focus.

How much of your day do you waste on the wrong efforts?

It may sound trite, but I want you to think about your ability to focus on the right items correctly. 

Close the apps on your computer that are stealing your attention from the work you should be doing. 

Mute the notifications on your phone and smartwatch.

Set ground rules for people strolling into your workspace. They don’t have to be complex. Mine, as I work from home, is that if I have on my AirPod Max headphones, I am deep in thought or trying to get something done. In other words, I’m focusing. My wife and kids can see it, and they know not to bother me unless it’s important.

Work is hard enough for most of us without adding to it and dealing with delays and stress.

Focusing on what is ESSENTIAL in your professional and personal life will allow you to get things done on time and to standard. It will enable you to breathe and recharge when necessary. 

Cut out the INESSENTIALS, and you will feel immediate improvement across all facets of your life.