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PRODUCTIVITY

3 Rules to Work By: Elizabeth Grace Saunders

This time-management whiz says the real reason entrepreneurs feel time-strapped is simple: They honor everyone else's priorities. Here's how to change the way you work.

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You hold the exhilarating--and sometimes terrifying--ability to make decisions about how you shape the course of your life and businesses.

For some entrepreneurs, these decisions come easily. But for many others, the constant onslaught of options can leave us wondering, did I make the right choice? Am I really living a life aligned with my priorities?

After coaching and training clients on six continents--and running my own business full time--I've seen first-hand that this struggle can lead to enormous guilt for entrepreneurs. To help people overcome this challenge, I advocate adopting a priorities-based decision-making process. Below is an overview of the three principles I use that can help you make (and feel good about) all of your decisions this year:

1. Set up your priorities filter.

Each individual has a unique set of priorities. So, the first step in the process of feeling good about your choices involves honestly laying out what matters most to you. I order my priorities in this way:

Inner life → Relationships → Business → Wellness → Order → Leisure

Yours may look similar to the above--or very different, such as:

Wellness → Start-up → Enjoyment → Relationships → Community service

The order of your priorities in your filter is not as important as whether you have accurately laid them out from most important to least important to you.

2. Make your priorities action-based.

Once you have a sense of what's most important to you, translate those priorities into actions. For me, an action aligned with the priority of inner life is setting aside time each morning to pray and meditate; an action correlated with the priority of relationships is meeting with friends at least three times a week. One of your action-based priorities for your start-up could be working from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, and an action-based enjoyment priority could be Thursday night salsa dancing.

3. Run all decisions through the filter.

Most of your time-investment should happen automatically, such as salsa dancing as a recurring calendar event on Thursday nights. But when you face a decision about adding or changing something in your schedule, you can run it through your priorities filter in order to decide whether to say, "Yes," "No," or "Not now." For example, if bringing on a new client today would leave you completely sleep-deprived for the next two months, a decision that could benefit your start-up may negatively impact your wellness--even to the point that you ask to delay the start of the new client onboarding process.

Alternatively, if you're asked to volunteer to put on a community service event and it doesn't take away from other areas, go for it. But if that service would have a significant negative impact on your start-up and your relationships, then for you, the priority-based decision would be to politely decline.

With these three simple rules, you can quickly and confidently know that you're making the right decisions for you and your business based on your priorities.

For more on action-based priorities and other secrets to effective time investment, check out The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress by Elizabeth Grace Saunders. @RealLifeE

IMAGE: Courtesy Subject
Last updated: Jan 25, 2013

The YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COUNCIL (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. @YEC
@YEC




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