Priorities Help You Do Something When You Can’t Do Everything

You can’t do everything.

If you don’t understand that now, you’ll learn soon enough when you try and tackle more than you’re able to handle. For student leaders, it is especially true. When you start to feel the effects of the Determination Season, you are getting close to reaching the end of your student leader year. It’s at this point you realize you won’t be able to accomplish everything you had hoped to. With time running out, you must now choose what your focus will be in the remaining weeks you have left.

Let’s be honest, your highest priority may not be your student leadership position. It could be your studies, your job, your family, your relationships, etc. If your leadership responsibilities don’t even make it into your top three overall priorities, it is even more important to identify what is most important for you to work on within your student leadership role.

You can only have one set of priorities. The priorities for your student leadership position must be viewed in light of all of your other priorities. How much time can you honestly allocate to each priority? The answer to that question will determine whether you will be able to tackle your top two or three student leadership priorities or not. In fact, at this point in the student leader year, you may only have enough time and energy left to pursue one main goal.

Prioritizing will help you to be more successful. Working through the process of deciding what’s more important will also show you what you are honestly capable of accomplishing in the remainder of your student leader year. But working through the exercise of creating your priorities isn’t enough. Once you’ve established them, it’s even more important to stick with them. You need to think about the why’s and how’s when creating a prioritization plan.

Priorities help you to know what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.

Since you can’t do everything, you need to know what you can and cannot do. Prioritizing your roles and responsibilities shows what needs to be done right now. It’s difficult to say no to something when you’re unsure what needs to be done at that moment. If you aren’t aware of your priorities, you’ll be tempted to jump on board with projects that sound like fun, but keep you from doing the things that are most important.

Prioritization involves sacrifice.

Whenever you make something a priority, it means you are choosing not to do something else, or at least moving something else farther down on your to-do list. Prioritization is difficult because you must often sacrifice the good for the better, the many for the few, and the short term gain for the long term gain. Consider this when deciding on what’s most important. Simply choosing the easiest tasks as your top priorities may not be the wisest course of action.

All priorities are not ‘number-one’ priorities; learn to discriminate.

In prioritizing your responsibilities and tasks, you must learn the difference between the urgent and the important. There is a chart that was made famous by Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It showed the relationship between those things that were important or not, and those things that were urgent or not. Based on those descriptors, the chart was broken into four quadrants. Covey explains how a person’s best work will be done when the work is important but not urgent. When you prioritize your tasks, schedule time to work on those priorities when you don’t feel rushed, when you’re at your best, and when you have the appropriate amount of time to produce excellent results.

When it comes to prioritizing your tasks and responsibilities it’s not going to be a fair fight. Everything is not equal. You can’t split things into equal parts of time and responsibility. Invest more in what’s important.

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