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KEY POINTS:

1. In today's society, we think we need to work harder, put in more hours, and get less sleep to be successful. However, this is leading to us to become sick, die from lifestyle-related diseases, and be unhappy. 

2. The key is to switch from doing time management to priority management. Instead of focusing on urgent activities that are usually associated with achieving someone else's goals (such as responding to emails), we need to focus on activities that are important to us and lead us to achieving our goals (such as setting aside time every day to be creative). 

A young man is woken by his alarm at 7:00 a.m. Dazed, he crawls out of bed and stumbles to the bathroom. A shower and shave later, he goes downstairs to the kitchen and preps his breakfast of cereal, juice and coffee. Fired up on simple carbs and caffeine, he heads off to work.

Before arriving at the office, he stops to pick up another coffee and a muffin to eat at his desk. Once there, he checks his email and sees a barrage of requests. It’s 9 a.m. and he has a critical presentation to deliver at 11 a.m. His heart rate is up and his cortisol is flowing as he attacks his emails to clear the backlog. At 10:30 a.m., he finally gets to preparing his presentation for a few minutes before racing out to deliver it.

Afterwards, he heads out to lunch and has some bread before the main course of pasta with chicken in a cream sauce, then finishes with a cappuccino. The whole time, he checks his mobile device every five minutes for messages.

Fuelled by caffeine, he manages to hammer through the next three hours. Because his brain can’t focus deeply, he works through a torrent of minor issues. He’s busy but isn’t able to work creatively on the important new initiative his boss asked him to prep.

Once home, his kids are super excited to see him but all he wants is to sit on the couch and watch some TV, which he does while eating dinner in silence next to his wife. Hours later, he collapses in bed, exhausted and spent, but can’t fall asleep. He’s already thinking about how much work he has to do tomorrow.

Does that sound completely screwed up? Or like a typical day? The stats say that this is how most people live. As Tony Schwartz from The Energy Project puts it, “The way we’re working isn’t working.”

We think we need to work harder and put in more hours. We think that the answer to the insanely competitive marketplace is to go longer. We take pride in how little we’re sleeping. And we’re all getting sick. We’re unhappy. We’re dying. It does not have to be this way. We can perform better.

The key is to stop doing time management.

Tomorrow, let’s try another approach to this day. Welcome to Priority Management.

Today's POWER-UP: Remember that more isn’t better – better is better.

Achieving your dreams means knowing the difference between “important” and “urgent,” because that allows you to set the right priorities and allocate your time and resources well.

Here’s the difference:

•    Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.

•    Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else's goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

Right now, our focus is on priority management, so you can be clear about what really matters to you and what to do about it. Here’s today’s task:

1) You have a workbook attached to this note. You can download and print it. 

2) Complete Step #1 in the workbook. You’ll see the instructions on it.

The idea for today is to see your life laid out and reflect on what you see.

In the next post, we’ll keep building the momentum to understand and plan for your priorities.