Before starting my own business, I worked with some really amazing people. One of my favorite co-workers was Matt, and I’ll never forget the day he blew my mind.
Our team was having a regular meeting to go over organizational updates, ground-level tactics, performance goals, and anything else that impacted our day-to-day piece of the larger business. As my boss informed us of everything we should be prioritizing, I could see Matt begin to have a visceral reaction. Then he said it, “If everything is important, then it feels like nothing is important.”
Queue brain explosions, clarity, and the next level of my existential crisis.
If everything is important, nothing is important. Of course! So simple, yet so true.
That powerful realization stayed with me. It still has an impact on my life and has become a pillar in teaching others how to sift through the many demands on our time. What Matt did next was equally powerful. He asked my boss to help him prioritize all that was being asked of him.
How often do we let the overwhelming items pile on top of us (because “they are all important”) instead of asking for help to identify what we really should be focused on?
I eventually learned that Matt was quoting author Patrick Lencioni and that he was on to something in asking for help. Before leaving that job, I began having regular meetings with our boss to seek her guidance in prioritizing the many demands on my time. It made such a significant impact on my productivity and my mental health.
So, I encourage you today to sit in the truth that if everything is important than nothing is. If you are not sure what is more important than the other items in your career, consider the following questions.
What you are working for? Money, impact, advancement, legacy. We all work for different reasons. Let your why drive your prioritization.
What do you use to measures your success? There are many things that go into our days at work, but not every item on our to-do list has a direct correlation to ‘succeeding’ in our work. Consider how you know that you are doing your job well and spend time on those items that reach your goal, add to your bottom line, impact your customer, etc.
What expectations did you agree to? When all else fails, look at your job description, mission statement, or similar guiding documentation. What is expected of you in your role is usually a good indication of what you should prioritize.