Here are some things to avoid when you are setting up your personal priorities dashboard:
- Avoid priorities that are vague. Anyone on your team or in your company should be able to read your priority and understand exactly what you mean. Frequently, I see priorities like "Trade Show" that don't really mean anything to anyone but the person who wrote the priority. What are you doing at the trade show? Are you marketing the event? Are you attending? Are you organizing a booth? Be as specific and concise as possible and always include a verb in the description of your priority to indicate what it is that you are actually doing this quarter. Also, be sure to include an end date on each priority even if the due date is the end of the quarter. This will help you stay on track and will clarify to your team what your timeline is for each priority.
- Avoid priorities that are do not clearly define success and failure. Always begin with the end in mind. Chances are you will not be successful if success is a moving target that changes every week. Be sure that you set very clear, measurable, and specific Red-Yellow-Green criteria for all of your priorities so that you will know what success and what failure or unacceptable performance looks like for each of your goals. We also recommend setting a SuperGreen or stretch goal for each of your priorities so that you'll know what to work on if you achieve your goal and have additional time, resources, or energy to expend on your priorities before the quarter ends. You will be far more motivated if you know what you're shooting for and if you know what you need to do to avoid failure.
- Avoid having more than 3-5 priorities. Often, when I talk with Rhythm users in Cascade teams, they are tempted to add a priority for each of the KPIs they are measuring and/or for each of the priorities that their group is working on for the quarter, and maybe some for their day job as well. The result is that some of them have 15 priorities! While having so many priorities may make you appear busy and productive, the truth is that you'll probably end up feeling stretched and overwhelmed and only execute effectively on one or two of those 15 things. We can't be as productive and effective as possible without focusing our attention on doing a few things and doing them well.
- Avoid having priorities that are misaligned with your team. We all have a day job and it is perfectly acceptable to include priorities in your 3-5 that don't directly tie to one of the initiatives your team is working on for the quarter. But, at least two or three of your Top 5 should be aligned with your team. Otherwise, at the end of your quarter, you run the risk of being Green on all of your personal priorities but Red on all of your team priorities. Those team priorities won't get completed if no one on your team is devoting energy to them throughout the quarter.
I hope these tips help you avoid some of the common pitfalls I see when helping Rhythm users define priorities for themselves. For more about implementing the Rockefeller Habits, view the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Checklist.
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