Rebecca had all the best intentions. She also felt guilty about not getting things done and vowed she would get started—right after she baked cupcakes for her son, walked the dog, and picked up her husband's dry cleaning. Pretty soon, a week had gone by. And the very thing she was so excited about doing still sat, waiting.
After months had gone by, this thing that originally made her so energized had now become a “project.” Something that was hanging over her head. The joy of starting up her business, once so wonderful, had become a burden.
Does this sound like you? It used to sound like me, too. That was until I developed the Two for One Priority System. This system shows you how to take back control of your time by helping you decide what's most important to you each month, and then gives you a simple, easy question to ask yourself to stay on track.
It’s Never about Time
How much time is there in one day? There are 24 hours. That’s 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. We all have the same amount of time, so why is it that some people get a lot done in their day while others do not?
It's because those who get a lot done understand that it's not about time. They know that it's about priorities. Specifically, about making yourself a top priority.
Right now, stop reading and take a self-priority check. How's your commitment to yourself?
Is it pretty balanced or a bit lopsided? Favored in your direction or another's direction?
Rebecca's relationship with herself was lopsided. She made sure she had everything done for everyone else first, before she took any time at all to work on her new business. She put her children’s and husband's needs before her own. She put household tasks before business tasks. She even put taking the family dog to the groomer ahead of taking care of herself.
Rebecca was always putting other people and their needs first. Her priority system was out of whack and heavily weighted in the direction of other people's needs. As a result, she wasn't getting much done for herself.
Rebecca was out of control of her time. Why? Because she had not made herself a top priority in her own life. In fact, Rebecca had made herself the last priority.
“Yeah … but,” I can still hear her saying, "You don’t understand. This thing and that thing happened this week."
Sure, life happens. But here's what Rebecca wasn't taking reasonability for: It wasn't about whatever came along and "took" her time; it was about what she'd been doing with the other 1,440 minutes of her day. “This and that” hadn't stolen her time. She had stolen time from herself because of who and what she had set as her priorities.
Because Rebecca had placed herself last on her own list, she was not in control of her time. Other people's wants and needs were.
This was hard for Rebecca to hear. Fortunately, hear me she did. Soon she was taking the steps that placed her higher up on her priority list. She put the Two for One Priority System into action.
The Two for One Priority System
What makes this so easy to use is that there are only two steps to the Two for One Priority System. There are no complicated lists to be made, rules to follow, or leaning curve to overcome. It's so simple that anyone can use it with maximum results the very first time. Best yet, it's free.
Step one: Identify your top two A-1 priorities each month.
Let’s return to my coaching client, Rebecca, to see the Two for One Priority System at work. The first thing I did was ask Rebecca to decide what her top two A-1 priorities would be for the month. She was quick to respond, “Be a great mom to my kids and get my business plan done.”
“Okay, great! Let’s get more specific. How would you like to be a great mom to your children this month?”
Rebecca thought for a moment and then said, “I’d be present, fresh, and there for them when they came home from school. I’d take them to the park to play on the weekend. I’d take them to swim lessons and stay there watching, without answering my cell phone. I’d be involved with their homework assignments, instead of just asking them if they’d gotten them done. I’d be fully present when I read them their bedtime stories and not skip any pages.”
Rebecca had a great list of things she would do with her children this month, given they were one of her top two priorities. Best yet, when she talked about the things she would do and how she would be, there was an inner strength and confidence in her voice. I could tell she was connected with her Two for One priority system. Nothing on her list felt like a should, ought, or must. Rebecca was energized and motivated from within.
“Rebecca, does it seem realistic that you will complete your business plan?”
“How can you say yes so emphatically?”
“Because I only have two priorities this month!”
Bingo! That’s the key. Two priorities; one-month commitment. That’s all. A one-month commitment to two priorities is achievable. With only three remaining parts of her business plan to go, Rebecca certainly could finish it in a month and still have plenty of time to spend with her other priority—her children.
Step two: Stay on track and know what to do by asking this question.
Once you've decided on your two A-1 priorities for the month, there's only one question you need to ask yourself in order to stay focused and on track: Does or doesn't this activity support my two A-1 priorities?
Let's return to Rebecca to see how she handled this step. She wondered, “What about the laundry?”
“Does getting the laundry done support or get in the way of either one of your priorities?” I asked Rebecca.
”Yes … No. I mean, I want my family to have clean clothes to wear. I can’t go all month without doing laundry!”
I chuckled, imagining a month’s worth of dirty t-shirts and socks waiting to be washed in stacks outside the laundry room. “Yes, of course, do the laundry. After—not before—you’ve attended to your top two priorities.” That's the key. Your two A-1 priorities come first, before anything else.
“Oh. So that would be the same for dishes, going shopping, and committees I’m serving on at school and church?”
“Yes. Being a great mom to your kids and getting your business plan done are your two A-1 priorities for this month. Let nothing and no one get in the way of them.”
At first, this was a difficult task for Rebecca. She was used to putting everyone else's priorities before her own. Therefore, changing to be in alignment with her Two for One Priority System was a challenge. Yet, she persevered.
One week later, she reported that she had been successful at reorienting her day. She worked on her business plan while her children were at school and was present for them when they came home. She completed the one-year objectives section of the plan and reported feeling energized and optimistic.
When I asked her how she managed to stay focused, she said, “I kept asking myself that one question: Does or doesn’t this activity support my priority? The answer was immediately clear. Then all I had to do was take action in that direction.”
At the end of one month, Rebecca completed her business plan. She was ecstatic! She also had done every one of the things she said she wanted to do with and for her children. She felt good about herself, her priorities, and all that she had accomplished.
Moreover, Rebecca learned, not through reading a book but by direct application, that she was in control of her time—time was not in control of her. Best yet, she was able to take back control very simply yet powerfully. By assigning two A-1 priorities each month, she made herself a priority and became more aligned with her Two for One Priority System. Rebecca was no longer out of time.
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About the Author: Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses. She is the author of "Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman's Journey to Business Success." To download a free PDF chapter of her book, go to Alkamae. If you're interested in finding out more about what steps you can take to ensure your lasting business success, get your free PDF: Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion.