Rising Star Systems

urgent, important, prioritize

The Top 5 Priority Pitfalls

One of the most important success and leadership skills, in the time management area, is the ability to create clear priorities and align your choices with those priorities.

Making these fundamental decisions are part of our executive function. And with the amount of stress, overwhelm and challenges in our everyday lives, knowing and honoring our priorities becomes more and more complicated and important.

In business, priorities and strategy are inextricably linked.

There are 3 levels of priorities:

  1. Big Picture Life Priorities – What are your dreams for your life? (Or the life of your business)
  2. Medium Term Priorities – What are your big hairy goals for the next 1-5 years?
  3. Short Term Priorities – What’s due in the next week, month, quarter?

The brain is hardwired to focus on short term priorities. What am I doing now? What do I want/need now? How do I get it, now?

This makes defining clear priorities challenging. I see those challenges manifesting in multiple ways in myself and for my clients.

When you look at the three levels of priorities – the most important thing to notice is, are they aligned with each other?

Do your short term priorities feed your medium term and long term priorities and goals?

Here are the Top 5 Priority Pitfalls:

  1. Perfectionism – everything is equally important
  2. Overloading schedule
  3. Lack of clarity on goals
  4. Failure to delegate or ask for help
  5. Ignoring personal well being

5 – Perfectionism

When it comes to perfectionism, it can infest every area of your life and may look different depending on the context.

With regards to prioritization, perfectionism looks like making everything equally important.

Because perfectionism (often a coping mechanism based in an insecure childhood) demands perfection in everything you do. So, it all must have equal importance and urgency.

4 – Overloading Schedule

When you are not clear on your Big Picture Life Priorities, it can be easy to say, “Yes” to everything. Because you don’t have any criteria with which to evaluate the opportunity in front of you. So, other imperatives (being liked, for example) can drive your choices.

Remember, when you say, “yes” to one thing, you are saying “no” to a lot of other things.

Overloading your schedule so that you can’t keep your promises is also a passive-aggressive way to say what you really want to say, which is, “No.”

Knowing your priorities at all three levels and being clear on your goals will enable you to make strong, aligned decisions when taking on a project or request, keep your promises and commitments, and stay focused on what is most important to you.

3 – Lack of clarity on goals

It is extremely hard to look at a huge list of To Do items and prioritize that list if you don’t know what your goals are. Or if your goals are vague and without deadlines. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t able to do this. I’ve personally never met anyone who can clearly prioritize a task list without knowing what the end game is.

When we don’t know what our goals are, everything looks equally important and urgent. And if we have some external driver (work deadlines, family needs, etc.) then we tend to do the urgent (what’s important to someone else) over the important, but non-urgent (what’s important to us).

When everything is equally important because we haven’t organized our tasks by goal or goal area in order to perceive the correct order of actions within that context, we tend to do what’s easiest, most comfortable and gives us the quickest shot of success endorphins.

These actions, while giving instant gratification, often do not tie in with our big hairy goals. And as a result, we actively avoid doing what is most important in the big picture.

2 – Failure to delegate or ask for help

As I quoted in an earlier article, “No man [or woman or child] is an island.” The bigger your goals and dreams, the more you will need to build a team around you to realize them.

Learning how to delegate, not abdicate, and how and whom to ask for help are critical success and time management skills. Very often its also a financial consideration. And there are ways around those challenges.

The most important area to explore around delegation and asking for help is to answer the question, “Am I the RIGHT person for this job?” Just because you can do a job, doesn’t mean that you are the right person for that job.

Is it your core specialty? Is this the part of your business that you love the most? Or could your energy, mind and creativity be better invested in other activities.

1 – Ignoring your personal well-being

“You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” Steven Adler

This is a fundamental truth. Take it from someone who has spent half of her life either seriously ill or seriously injured.

Prioritizing self-care is challenging, especially because our society looks down on it. We should all just be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get on with it, right? If you are healthy, count your blessings. And know that if you don’t take care of yourself, there will come a day when you aren’t.

Don’t wait until your body gives you no other choice. Prioritize taking care of yourself, so that you won’t ever be faced with the choice – your life or your life.

Think of prioritizing self-care like making sure you fill your car with gas. Because without gas, your car won’t go. And without self-care, eventually neither will your body.

To create real success in your professional life, personal life, and spiritual (whatever that means to you) life, get clear on your Big Picture Life priorities, and align them with your values.

Then create long term goals (5 years at most) in order to define your medium term priorities.

Then work backwards to 1 year, 9 months, 6 months and 3 month goals that will keep you on your path to the Medium Term goals you’ve set. Once you have your 3 month goals, then your short term priorities become obvious, real, and concrete.


In the Time Management Mastery Intensive program, I will teach you a simple way to prioritize your task list, get clear on your big picture priorities and build them into your time management system, task management system, and skill mastery. A new program will be starting soon. Register today to gain mastery on the most fundamental success skill that all other skills depend on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts:

The Ugly Truth About Time Management
urgent, important, prioritize
The Top 5 Priority Pitfalls
task management, time management, overwhelm
Top 5 Task Management Essentials


Discover the 5 Steps to “A-List Star” Level Confidence