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When you have a lot of quarterly goals, it can be tricky to keep them prioritized, especially since priorities can shift as you go through the quarter. So it’s good to have a reliable practice to refocus your attention on your top priorities.
One simple practice I’ve been using lately is to create a priority card at the start of each week. It’s just an index card with my top priorities for the week listed on it. I keep it near my desk and normally review it to begin each workday, along with reviewing my other quarterly goals. This helps me see the week’s priorities in the context of bigger goals, which makes me feel more committed to progress.
Here’s what my priority card for this week looks like:
It only takes seconds to fill out one of these cards, so it’s very straightforward. This week my #1 priority is to finish and publish the two remaining bonuses for the Stature course. One bonus is a short text document – basically a character design sheet – which is almost done. I expect to have that one done and published today or tomorrow. The final bonus is a collection of audios (Stature builders) that will likely take me a few days to finish.
My other priorities include making some improvements to the Stature portal and doing a postmortem for the Stature project.
I expect to do these in the order listed. I’ll have the Stature project 100% done when these items are completed, which will be a nice result. It feels good to bring a long project to full completion.
Do I know I can complete these items in a week? I know I can work on them a decent amount this week, but since they involve some creative work that’s tricky to predict time-wise, I may need more than a week to finish. That’s okay. I can continue working on them next week if necessary. But the priority for this week is to move these projects forward towards completion.
These projects have detailed action steps listed in Nozbe, so the priority card items refer to known projects that have already been mapped out. I know what needs to be done, so the main decision is to flow through these particular action steps this week.
There are dozens of other projects that I won’t touch this week – eventually they’ll get their turns as well, but I can only fit so much into a single week. While I could jump around and make progress on lots of different projects in a week, this week I’d like to maintain more of a mono-focus and move this one project forward, especially since it’s so close to the finish line.
I can still maintain habit-based activities such as daily blogging and other pre-scheduled commitments each week. The priority card helps me make good use of my discretionary work time – i.e. those blocks of time that aren’t already spoken for.
Setting priorities also helps to clarify posteriorities. Anything not listed on my priority card for a given week isn’t a priority for that week. I may still be able to work it in, but I’d rather make progress on the priorities first. This doesn’t mean that other items aren’t important, but it does mean that I’ve decided they aren’t as important for me to attend to in the current week.
To make meaningful progress on interesting projects, something else has to wait. If you don’t decide in advance what has to wait, your focus is more likely to become scattered or chaotic throughout the week. You’ll still have to make those prioritization decisions at some point, but your decisions may be ad hoc and inconsistent if you don’t maintain a reliable process for weighing options and deciding.
Filling out a weekly priority card after reviewing my quarterly goals works well for me. I’m basically breaking off a chunk of my quarterly goals to set priorities for the upcoming week.
I encourage you to make your own priority card for this week. Test this idea to see if it helps you focus better and improve your results. Grab and index card and a marker or pen right now, and make it so.
After you fill out your priority card, keep it somewhere convenient, so you’ll review it each day. I recommend that you use one of your devices to set a daily reminder to review it at a certain time, so you’ll have a convenient trigger for the review action.
As I noted earlier, it’s best to set priorities for the week after reviewing your quarterly goals. If you don’t have quarterly goals intelligently defined, you can still apply this idea without them, but it’s best to set weekly priorities based on long-term goals. Also consider joining us in Conscious Growth Club next year, and we’ll walk you through a 5-step process to define and update your goals at the start of every calendar quarter. It does take some practice to get into the rhythm of doing this, but it makes a world of difference in the progress you can make. A delightful benefit of this kind of investment is being able to set and achieve meaningful goals and advancing them week by week and quarter by quarter.
Update (several hours later): As expected I got one of the remaining Stature bonuses completed and published today. So that’s a very nice start to the week!