2023 is starting out like a mad dash. If you are anything like us, then you are flooded with new project ideas, a sea of new emails, and a big question of how this will all be completed.

Two key things however, might be missing for you right now: Priority and Focus

So how do you avoid rushing through the month of January only to find that you are behind on the most important items for this quarter? Here are two quick things you can do each morning to start off your year on a strong note.

STEP ONE: Proactively identify your priorities for the day, week, and month.

This should be a consistent start for you every day. If you jump in and start working without a plan of what is most important, you’ll be on a long and exhausting journey of random tasks, interruptions, and distractions. No one enjoys that, and yet we all easily fall victim to it. The way out is to let yourself be in control of what you are working on first, and determine the steps and timing you need to accomplish those high-priority elements.

DO THIS – Spend the first 20-30 minutes of each day identifying what you accomplished with your top priorities yesterday, what the new priorities are for today, (and rest of the week and month). For any one day, you should not have more than 2-3 top priorities. That doesn’t mean you won’t accomplish other things, but it will make sure that only a few things will take precedent.

STEP TWO: Avoid your email for 30 minutes. Then identify ways to respond efficiently.

The biggest mistake we make is starting our day by reading email and then immediately answering messages and starting to work on those items that just came in now. True, there are some high-priority fires that cannot be ignored (like a customer satisfaction issue), but checking emails and taking actions right away can easily turn into a 1-2 hour exercise of clogging up your time, even when some of the most recent emails may not relate to your biggest priorities.

DO THIS – Instead of solving email questions immediately, respond with a quick note of when you think you can address this issue. So something like “I see this and can find time on Friday to think through it and provide an answer. Stay tuned.” That might give you a few days to respond instead of responding within an hour and setting the expectation that you will consistently respond that quickly. (NOTE: Don’t forget to add responding to the email by Friday to your “to do” list.)

Try this experiment for the next 2 weeks and see if it helps reduce your anxiety and helps you focus on the right priorities. Happy 2023!!

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