How to Negotiate Your Priorities

On any given day there’s an infinite number of things you could be doing. The trick is learning to prioritize them. Otherwise, minutes turn to hours which turn to days which turn to months and before you know it years are passing by, and your priority items still sit on the back burner.

We each have the same 1440 minutes in a day. The question is … how are you going to use those minutes?

Most people get caught up in our conditioned ‘to do’ lifestyle where we focus on tasks that do not move us closer to our big vision in life. Even the trendy Agendas and Planners perpetuate this problem. We feel pulled in a million different directions, juggling our ‘to do’ lists, and in the process missing out on the stuff that really matters.

It’s one of the reasons my daughter and I felt compelled to create a new kind of Planner. Our Purpose Planner was designed to help us live more purposeful lives, where our focus was directed to spending time on things that most move us toward our dreams and best life.

I love the ‘Rocks in a Vase’ demonstration as a great visual representation of the problem of the typical task-driven approach to life. If who haven’t seen it, it works like this. Take a vase and place big rocks in it to the top of the vase. You’ll think it’s full. But then, you can fit a surprising number of small pebbles into the ‘full’ vase. And you can still pour in sand, which will sift over the rocks and pebbles. You can even add water, which will absorb to fit.

If you attempt to fill the vase in the opposite order, it won’t work. After you’ve poured water, sand, and small pebbles, you won’t be able to fit the big rocks in.

This is representative of your life and the choices you make. Assume the big rocks are your most important priorities – those things that matter most to you. The pebbles, sand and water are things in your life in descending order of importance. If you spend all your time and attention on the water, sand, and pebbles, you won’t have room left for your actual priorities.

Learning the art of prioritization is key … and it’s easier than you’d think.

Here’s a simple system to kickstart your new prioritized life.

I Determine where your time is going

The starting point is to determine where your time is currently being spent. Track your time and make a list of all the things that are consuming it. Be sure to include the ‘little’ things as they add up to take big chunks out of your 1440 minutes each day.

II Determine your ‘big rock’ priorities

Decide what your priorities are in life. What are the things that are most important to you. Be sure to consider all areas of your life. Our Purpose Planner recommends you get intentional about recognizing your priorities in each of these categories:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Wealth & Finance
  • Mission & Vision
  • Emotional & Mental
  • Growth & Learning
  • Intimate/Romantic Relationship
  • Family & Friends
  • Experiences & Quality of Life
  • Spiritual (whatever that means for you)
  • Career (if this is not yet covered under mission or vision)


III Recognize that you’re in charge of your calendar

How you spend your time is a choice. And it’s a choice you get to make. Take those items on your list from step I above (i.e. where your time is going) and make a decision to eliminate, delegate or automate (to the fullest extent possible) those items on the list that you do not enjoy, that are not on your priority list from step II, and/or that do not move you closer to your vision.

IV Time block your priorities

Now that you’ve gotten rid of items that do not serve your higher purpose, schedule time blocks for those items that are your priorities. Don’t wait to find time. Instead, make the time. Schedule it as the priority item that it is and deserves to be recognized as.

Ensure you do daily, weekly, monthly and annual check-ins on your priorities and update as needed.

V Learn to say ‘NO’

Now that you’ve identified the priorities in your life and scheduled them, and you’ve identified those things you want to keep off your plate, it’s easy to maintain by learning the art of a positive ‘No’. Graciously turn down requests of your time that will undermine your priorities and/or not move you toward your chosen best life.

You deserve an exceptional life. To live into that best life requires that you make choices. Getting intentional about your priorities is the foundational first step on that path. The system I’ve shared is simple … like most good ideas.

cindy watson signoff blue mid bl arz lg

Are you looking to up-level your negotiation skills?

Please enjoy my TedX Ocala talk 

- Rise of the Feminine Voice


Know Your Priorities, negotiate

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