[Coaching Tips] First Things First

The are resources to help you manage your day, your week, and even your life are endless. Some are there for you to buy , and some are there for you to engage .  Some of the resources are a combination of both , and appear overwhelming enough to make the eyes of the most motivated glaze over.

None will work unless you have the discipline to make them work.

My preference with coaching clients is to simplify and focus, and that you can significantly increase your effectively if you take in a mantra of “first things first. “

Why first things first?

Because some things – though not all things – are linear, they’re sequential. Unless you take a first step there is no second step.

Secondly, because some things are time bound: the task or action must be done within a certain time frame or whether you do it or not loses most relevance.

Last, because some things are really important and some things not so important, it helps to be mindful of the difference: if you have a choice, choose the stuff that’s important. It’s a simple (and not simplistic approach) of mapping your priorities to the time you have available in your day, your week or your month.

Let me give you some examples from my day today. Sitting on my work to-do list are nine things; 1) write a blog post for Life Back West, 2) follow-up with my webmaster about the site, 3) finish up a year-long set of employee communication programs for a client, 3) set a coffee date with a former colleague who is a Chief Medical Officer at a biotech firm, 4) summarize some survey results for new trustee orientation for a board of trustees on which I sit, 5) start the process of creating a hard copy marketing card for October, 6) process client invoices and pay bills, 7) follow-up on a possible new client, 8 ) catch a work-out, and 9) respond to a note from a client about a possible downstream engagement.

First things first?

Here will be my Wednesday; 1) I’ll write the post for the blog (this blog actually) because if it doesn’t get out before noon San Francisco time it won’t happen today, 2) I’ll take a break from head’s down writing after this post, and as that break I’ll follow-up with the webmaster and the coffee date, 3) I’ll tackle the communication program next because it’s both important, and time bound – I’d like to have it in the client’s hands by Thursday US time / Friday China time and it will take another 60 minutes of heads down work, 4) after that I’ll do a follow-up note from my new client meeting (important and time bound: a late note has less impact), 5) I’ll start the marketing card effort by checking with DeAnna Alcorn of DA Studios who does my stuff so I’m clear on timelines and her bandwidth (likely has to be done now, but it’s first a matter of getting the ball rolling, 6) right after lunch I’ll catch a work-out, and before I head out for an afternoon meeting at 2 PM, 8 ) I’ll invoice and pay bills. Later in the afternoon, when I’m tired and not so inspired I’ll collect the 9) survey information, which is a copy and paste piece of work.

So that in a nutshell is an example of how to set and operationalize priorities based on one simple concept: first things first.

Coaching Tips are a series of occasional “how-to’s” based on research and over 30 years of coaching managers and executives to be more effective and efficient in their work. More about executive and team coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above.