The other day I was making a choice around how I spend my time. In this particular instance I was choosing how I would spend a spare hour: work or exercise. Whist this specific choice might be a bit unusual for you, it’s quite a familiar choice for me. You see, being a business owner who also has kids, school holidays are a time where I do a bit of everything. What that means is that for a few weeks a year, I fit work in around my family and my family in around my work, hence my choice on that particular day between work and exercise.
The thing is, I realised that the choice I was giving myself wasn’t a fair choice. Both work and exercise are very important to me. I need to do both activities to achieve what I want and yet in that instance, it wasn’t possible to do both. When this has happened in the past, I simply make a choice (and I always pick work!) and move on, but this time, probably because it’s the new year and I’m over-thinking everything, it made me pause.
I realised how easy it is to give ourselves a false choice like this. A choice which is in fact focusing on the wrong options, and is a direct consequence of a choice I made earlier. A choice I didn’t even think about! You see I already made choices in the lead up to this point to spend time with my kids, to go to the shops, to watch Netflix, go out with friends etc and then left two important things until the end which I then had to choose between.
In reality, I should have paid more attention to my earlier choices and my time allocation, so that I wasn’t left with this false choice.
And then I started to think about how this can apply to work. In marketing, work seems to be about constant prioritisation. We frequently make decisions about which channels to try, how to allocate our budget, where to spend our time, how to make sure our team has what they need. But are we making the right choices first, or are we doing the fun things first and then having to prioritise what’s left?
Are we choosing to spend our time focussing on our preferred activities and what we are good at, instead of doing some of the harder, more important, things first? Are we allocating budget to immediate needs and then having to split what’s left amongst some important investments?
The solution as I see it is to be more deliberate about these choices and to recognise when I’m tempted to make easy choices without giving them due attention. Whether it’s at home or work, the big things shouldn’t miss out. Rather, the big things should be allocated my time and budget first. Then I can choose to split my time across what remains. While I already prioritise some bigger decisions this way, I am now making an effort to do this in my daily To Do list as well. Easy to say, hard to do, but it’s something I’ll be working on.