Are you clear on your Q2 Priorities? Your success depends on it

Apr 26 / Helen Bryant
A recent conversation with a coaching client reminded me how easy it is to lose focus on our priorities. We are soooo busy with so much to do!

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to do?

Setting clear priorities ensures that you and your team are crystal clear on what is important to do and not do. Despite this, clarifying priorities is often not done well. 

We are already in a critical quarter of the year, often making or breaking your annual plan. If you are not on track by the end of this quarter, it will be harder to get back on track for the year-end.

In this blog, I share some of the reasons why it can be hard to set priorities in the first place and what you can do to ensure you and your team are clear on your own priorities so that you feel in control and confident that you will achieve your goals.

How many priorities do you have right now?

I talked with a coaching client who felt that their work was taking over their life. Boundaries were blurring. She had constant feelings of “Oh no, what next?” when checking emails.

I asked what her priorities were for this quarter. She thought for a moment and started to share her list, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and on. By the time she had finished, 11 “significant priorities” had to be addressed in the coming 12 weeks. No wonder she was feeling overwhelmed.

One of the most crucial tasks you must undertake as a leader is setting priorities. It's a task that can make or break the success of your business and your team. However, many managers struggle to clarify the few truly important activities they and their team must deliver to be successful. Busyness is confused with productivity.

If you as a leader are not clear on what is important, how can your team be?

By the end of Q2, we will be halfway through the year. If you are off track by then, achieving those stretch goals you set yourself becomes harder and harder with less time left.

Why does it happen?

Too Much To Do And No Time To Think

One of the biggest reasons managers don't set priorities is the overwhelming number of tasks and responsibilities they have in the first place.

With so many things to do, it's easy to become bogged down by the day-to-day operations of a business and lose sight of the bigger picture. However, setting priorities allows you to focus on what's important and allocate your team’s time and resources accordingly.

People also deprioritise valuable thinking and planning time in favour of the day-to-day. They don’t have a regular and consistent planning system to keep them and their team on track and become vulnerable to staying in the short term.

Fear of Limiting Results

Another reason managers may avoid setting priorities is the fear that it will limit their flexibility and creativity and that the team will achieve more if they keep it open.

However, this couldn't be further from the truth. By setting priorities, you're actually freeing up mental space and energy to think creatively and strategically about the important tasks ahead.

Priorities provide direction and clarity, allowing you and your team to be more effective and efficient. Clarity also increases accountability, as everyone is crystal clear on what is important and what they need to do.

Everyone aligning behind a few big things will have the greatest impact rather than everyone spreading themselves too thinly.

Fear of Making the Wrong Decision

Many managers fear making the wrong decision, leading them to avoid setting priorities altogether.

But not making a decision can be just as damaging. You show leadership and control the situation by setting priorities and making informed decisions.

It's vital to remember that making mistakes is a natural part of the decision-making process. You can grow and improve as long as you learn from your mistakes.

Tips for Setting Effective Priorities

If you recognise some of these symptoms in your planning and prioritising approach, here are some tips to help you get back on top and set effective priorities:

1.  Make sure you have identified your goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term.
Use the quarters of the year to break down big goals to help maintain focus and momentum.

2.  Prioritise your tasks based on their importance and urgency.
Use tools like the Eisenhower Matrix or ‘Stop, Start, Continue’ to help you categorise your tasks.

3.  Share your priorities with your line manager.
 Ensure you are 100% aligned with them so they don't undermine your efforts.

4.  Communicate your priorities to your team regularly.
This will help them understand what's important and where to focus their efforts. You can keep them visible and front of mind to avoid being distracted.

5. Schedule time each quarter and each week to plan.
Write down your priorities; the act of thinking and writing down often brings clarity and decision-making. It gives you time to review and adjust your priorities regularly. As circumstances change, it's crucial to reassess your priorities and adjust as needed. Scheduling this thinking and planning time in your diary will ensure it gets done.

Setting priorities is essential for any successful leader. Don't let fear or overwhelm hold you back from taking control and making informed decisions. By prioritising effectively, you will achieve your goals, save time, and feel the confidence that comes with knowing you and your team are on top of your work.

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