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During a recent trip to Zion National Park with my wife, we came across a cairn on the trail. In many parts of the world, cairns help in marking the trails to assure people that they are still on the true path. By utilizing the cairn of prioritization in my life, it has led to become a leader, especially in the key areas of my life.

By living a life without any ‘cairns’ guiding us, it is easy to forget to prioritize and be effective. From this article, you will learn why I believe leaders prioritize and how they go about it. You will see the five guiding principles by which I prioritize and the secret to prioritization.

Why Prioritizing is So Important to Leaders

I have realized that by increasing my productivity, it has led to additional opportunities opening up for me. Why do I prioritize? It is because I can be involved in too many activities because leaders naturally are drawn to numerous new activities, but only a handful of those activities are useful or necessary.  I really like the Leadership Girl article titled, The Secret Morning Routine Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs, because it highlights how prioritizing a routine leads to success. There are so many activities that you can do when you wake up in the morning, but prioritizing thee most important leads to a leader’s success.

I learned that prioritization was important through my own mistakes. When I started Ascend, I realized that there were hundreds of low hanging fruit, so I thought that each task would only take 30 minutes and provide a huge benefit. What I tried to do is complete all of those tasks in one day. I found that any attempt to take care of too many things can lead to burnout, which is something a leader wants to avoid at all costs. I appreciate Muse’s 1-3-5 rule that helps you attempt to accomplish 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things. Rules like this can help your prioritization and prevent burn out.

 Areas That Need Prioritization: My Own 5 F’s of Prioritization

I remember Google’s motto at the time that I worked there; Eliminate, Automate, or Outsource. What this means is that our time should be spent on things that are necessary. If it is not a must that you do something, eliminate it. And if it is not possible to automate it, then the logical move would be to try to find another outlet to perform the task.

Simply, by uncompromising prioritization, it means that every worker is handling the tasks with the highest priority.There are various areas in my life that I prioritize by utilizing the overarching 5 F’s strategy.

  • Faith (belief system)
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Function (work, job)
  • Free Time

Let’s spend a few minutes going through each one, and I can provide a bit more context what I mean here:

  • Faith – This is an overarching belief system that drives and motivates you. We each have our own overarching belief system that provides an understanding of our motivations. I prioritize this highly in my life.
  • Family – Prioritizing family is a no brainer, but I find as a leader that I need to prioritize them very highly. I prioritize for plenty of my brain energy to be left at the end of the day, so that I can spend meaningful time with my family.
  • Friends – Friends help in the enjoyment of life and the accountability to keep moving forward. I find that prioritizing friendships is vital for a leader, as I often need to bounce ideas off of my friends and vice versa.
  • Function – Work is a fun and exciting area of my life. It’s also the means by which I take care of my family, so I tend to prioritize a healthy portion of my day trying to figure out ways to continue to benefit our customers.
  • Free Time – I don’t have much of this any more with soon to be three young daughters running around the house, but I do realize that this is an important aspect  to prioritize to maintain my well being. Life can be hard, so prioritizing some fun events is essential to be well being as a leader.

I have noticed that some people have intertwined these aspects. For instance, I can incorporate my friends in my free time or work in my function with my friends. From personal experience, I have realized that intertwining the F’s makes the activities to become more meaningful.

What is the best way of controlling these? Well, this is by proactively considering if my time is well utilized compared to the F’s. In addition, I have to stop and reevaluate if I am out of line in any way, for instance if my free time is swallowing up time for my function. I need to constantly reassess based on my 5 F’s to make sure that my energy and time are properly aligned. While this article is primarily addressing prioritization of time, talents and energy are also included.

The Secret to Prioritizing

The secret in my life is creating lists and executing against those lists. Create a list of the various areas outlined above by function. Feel free to use rules such as the 1-3-5 rule provided above. Then, run a time audit for the previous week.  Make a note of the function(s) that takes up most of your waking time. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with that function being your priority.

It is important to keep in mind that from my experience, when I correctly prioritize vital areas of my life, it has helped make me grow as a leader. I can credit prioritizing for that achievement and for my continuous growth.

Prioritization: The Secret Leaders Use to Get Things Done 1

Ben Tejes writes for the Ascend and SBTC blog with the goal to help lead people to achieve financial freedom. He covered such financial topics such as Midland, CACH LLC and Chapter 13 calculator. When he’s not working, Ben enjoys going on adventures with his wife and two young daughters all over the bay area.