One powerful tool for a purposeful 2023

It was July, and I was exhausted. About five years after I started my leadership business, I was busy with clients and traveling locally and nationally for speaking events. By that summer, I was feeling overworked, and craved rest and rejuvenation. I looked at my calendar to book a week-long vacation for that fall and realized that there was not one week I didn’t have something on my schedule. A week-long vacation was not possible, and I ended that year feeling more exhausted and burnt out than I ever had before. I made a promise to myself that I would never let that happen again. Not only would I book my vacations before the next year started, I would choose a location and pay for it so that it was locked on my calendar. That year was a huge lesson for me in ensuring that I schedule important things on my calendar before the year begins rather than trying to fit them in a packed schedule later.

That year, I started a practice I call Priority Planning. Before the start of each year, I input important events, appointments, and meetings into my calendar before it gets filled with everything else. This has had a huge impact on my energy, my business, and my life. In the past nine years of implementing this practice, I have been more productive, more purposeful, and my business has been more profitable.

As leaders, we can often busy ourselves with low-value activities rather than focus on high-impact results. Priority Planning helps you to be purposeful about your time and energy and ensures the most valuable elements of your life are prioritized.

Before you begin the process of Priority Planning, it’s helpful to ask yourself these two clarifying questions:

  1. What do I value most in my personal life that I want to make a priority in the coming year? Some examples may include:
    • Having dinner with my family every night
    • Taking at least two, week-long vacations with my family
    • Volunteering at my son’s school once a month
    • Booking a weekend away with friends
  1. What do I value in my professional life that I want to make a priority in the coming year? Some examples may include:
    • Developing my high potential employees
    • Attending a conference to expand my skills
    • Attending a roundtable of industry experts to develop relationships and gain ideas
    • Reading business magazines and blogs to keep abreast of industry trends
    • More planning time to focus on strategic projects

Your answers will be personal to you. One leader may want to prioritize volunteering for an industry committee, while another leader may want to focus on business development.

Here are examples of things to Priority Plan into your calendar:

  • Vacations
  • Strategic planning meetings (if you are a department manager, a half day each quarter focusing on strategic topics can lead your team to faster results)
  • Strategy and planning time (for you)
  • Kids’ activities, including concerts, Halloween parties, the last day of school picnic, or anything you want to attend
  • Conferences and professional events
  • Doctor appointments (ever call the doctor and have to wait six months for your checkup? Schedule everything the year before)
  • Recurring coaching sessions and meetings with each of your employees
  • Department team-building (lunches, end of year events, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Studying or reading industry trends
  • A yearly meeting with your financial planner

I just completed this practice last week, and here is what I personally Priority Planned into my calendar for 2023:

  • Team meetings
  • Two personal retreats (three days each) to work on strategic projects for the company.
  • My annual doctor appointments (I made the mistake last year of waiting to schedule my annual physical until when it was due, and had to wait six months for an appointment. Now I will schedule all my appointments the year before and try to keep them for the same time of year to making tracking easier)
  • A month-long vacation to Italy with my family (this has been a dream for many years, and will finally become a reality in 2023)
  • Three hours on most Fridays to work on editing my book
  • My children’s school concerts and major events
  • Each of my children’s birthdays so I don’t schedule travel on those days
  • My birthday (I take this day off every year!)
  • Dinner with a close friend six times during the year
  • Dates with my husband
  • A weekend away with college friends (Go Syracuse!)

The highest performing leaders are purposeful with their focus and energy. Although simple leadership practices may not seem very impactful, it’s the consistent, fundamental practices we implement that can make a huge difference in how we spend (and preserve) our energy and time. Exceptional leaders know that fundamentals practices like prioritizing and planning are essential for performing at their best. Taking time to Priority Plan your year will ensure you spend time on the most important areas that enhance your leadership and your life.

Laurie Maddalena

Laurie Maddalena

Laurie Maddalena is a dynamic and engaging keynote speaker and leadership consultant. She writes a monthly online column for next generation leaders for CUES and has published articles in Credit ... Web: Details