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1. Why is it so hard to follow through on your priorities?

Good planning means very little if your department isn’t set up to follow through on priorities. Kyle & Jeff explore why that’s so hard to do, and offer a framework for understanding why your day-to-day work likely doesn’t match the work you’ve determined to have the most impact.


(Primarily autogenerated, let us know if you see any errors!)

Kyle: Hello and welcome to unReactive where we look to help marketing leaders reclaim their time and sanity by exploring the topics that keep us stuck in a state of reactivity. I’m Kyle Morck, and I’m joined as always by my co-host Jeff Reynolds. How are you today, Jeff?

Jeff: Never been better, Kyle. Never been better

Kyle: Yeah, I’m, uh, recovering a little bit still from a sinus infection, so if I’m a little bit more nasally and congested than usual, I promise my voice doesn’t usually sound like this.

Jeff: I wish I had that excuse. I just am, I just sound like this.

What are we talking about today, Kyle?

Kyle: So Today I wanted to talk about why it’s so hard to follow through on your priorities. Really to me, when it comes to any sort of long-term planning, I think this is one of the most pernicious topics that stands in the way of marketing departments having the impact that they could have because it’s really that regardless of how good or on- strategy your planning might be, if you don’t follow through on what you’ve decided are your priorities, it means very little

Jeff: Yeah, and I guess I’d just add to that. I think it’s really important that we remember that we’re sort of separating the topic of setting priorities, which is sort of step one. I mean, we, a lot, a lot of what we’re gonna talk about sort of probably will hover around that, but that’s a little different. Or at least it’s like an edge part of the bigger picture, which is how do you actually follow through once you’ve set them.

Kyle: Yeah, because it’s almost like working backwards because it doesn’t matter to spend time setting priorities if you don’t have your department and life set up in a way where you can actually follow through on them.

Jeff: Ding. Ding, ding. Yep.

Kyle: I think it’s also important to draw distinction between like focus and priorities because there’s probably 15 different topics around the difficulties of keeping focus or energy on your daily work. And we’ll be covering all of those at some point in time, I’m sure. But what I’m really interested in is how the decision is made for what to focus on each day because there’s really a big difference between daily focus and your longer term plans. And what usually happens is that really the difference between what you say is important and what you do is what actually proves what is important to you by how you spend your time.

Jeff: Yeah. In fact, I would almost argue that what we’re doing today is we’re talking about prioritization. Assuming the things that you’ve identified as your priorities are actually your priorities. But for most people, in reality, and I’m guilty as anyone -health is a real high priority and I’m supposed to be, you know, exercising X amount of times a week per my own goals, and I don’t do that. So that tells me that those, you know, aren’t really my priorities. What really are my priorities are things that I’m doing almost by definition. But in order to have a conversation, we have to talk, you know, use the more general term of priorities, assuming they sort of align.

Kyle: Yeah. So what’s your history with prioritization? Is this something that you feel like you really struggle with?

Jeff: Well, I used to really feel like I struggled. A few years back I implemented a, like a system, system’s a big word, but I, you know, where I set four or five or so annual big picture goals in my life and they kind of the classic, you know, deal with money and, uh, health and these different topics. And I noticed that when I started having just a bigger picture, Like measuring stick it really became a tool to translating to my daily activities.

And I’m by far not perfect in that, but I guess what I’m trying to say is as cliche as it is until I really have like that bigger why or that motivation or have real clarity of why I’m doing these activities, why I have them on my priorities list, I really felt stuck. So, that was really key to me.

And then the other, like second key was really getting away from the to-do list mentality where I treated everything the same, you know, like this big long list. And I still kind of have that, but then every day I have a must-do list, which is much smaller. Now it’s down to one or two items a day. So the point being that sort of tying those things together has helped me a lot, but, and I really think it in the day-to-day, it just boils down to my discipline and creating those habits.

And that discipline though, starts the way I get the motivation for that discipline to have that discipline is cause I’m clear to sort of the why. So I don’t know if that really answers your question. I struggle just like everybody else, but I do feel like I’m better. Partially just cause I’ve accepted I can take small steps towards things instead of, you know, having everything on my list.

Kyle: Yeah, and I feel like I’m in a very similar place that I have done the work to kind of understand what my priorities are and what’s motivating them, and I also understand when things come on my plate from outside with external requests or anything like that, I kind of know like, oh, this doesn’t really match with my priorities.

But it’s really a knowledge is half the battle thing that I still haven’t gotten fully over those psychological pieces. And you know, I sit here, especially as we were launching upMarketer, like I would be like, okay, the next two weeks, this is all I’m gonna focus on. And then when two weeks is up, I’m sitting there being like well, I only got halfway done with that, and what did I spend my time on? Because I know I was working hard that whole time, and it’s all of those things that weren’t actually priorities that were coming in and I was reacting to.

Jeff: A hundred percent. And it’s not that those things aren’t necessarily needing to be done. Maybe they don’t need to be done when you are doing them or whatever. But the other thing is that there’s some psychological things like we just we always are optimists, right? Like, you, you are as sort of an entrepreneur and a marketer and creator type guy yourself, you know, you’re always making stuff.

I guess, I guess what I’m trying to say is the important thing is that you get up every day and make something. And if you were an optimist, if you’re, you wouldn’t do that work unless you were an optimist, right? You wouldn’t be a marketer unless you were an optimist. And the downside, or the shadow of that is that you always think there’s more time in the day, more things that you can squeeze in, and you know that side of it too.

Kyle: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so jumping into kind of the meat of the topic of today, I think that what it comes down to is that it’s really challenging to lift your head up out of the barrage of new tasks that are added to your plate every day as a marketing leader manager, in order to focus on that deeper, more impactful work.

And at its core, the difficulties in following through with your priorities is when it comes down to doing the work, other things feel more important at that moment, that it’s really about that moment to moment psychology of things. Like that’s when the decision of what work you’re actually doing, the rubber meets the road.

Jeff: Well, and this is why there’s so much advice right around like not checking your email first thing in the morning because you literally reduce that sort of, whether it’s, uh, FOMO, you know, a fear of missing out or just, uh, the sort of psychological effects of wanting to make other people happy. And so if you don’t check your email in the morning, you don’t have that invading your to-do list first thing, right?

Kyle: Exactly. Yeah. And what I’ve been really thinking about recently is that psychology of like what is driving that? Where those things are kind of about trying to avoid it and not let it happen to you. What I’m really curious about is, you know, what’s the psychology that’s actually making us act in that way?

Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I just wanna say that for the record, I don’t keep ice cream in my house because I have no self discipline and I will just strap that thing on me, like a horse with oats or whatever, and eat a half gallon of ice cream. So I guess your distinction here is today we’re gonna talk more about, like, we’re gonna accept that you’ve already brought the ice cream into the house.

Or at least that the, it is sort of inevitable that the ice cream’s in our house because of the nature of our work, and we’re gonna focus more on sort of that moment of truth when you do have to make that decision between those outside forces often and your actual priorities.

Kyle: I’d say even more specifically, it’s about trying to do the work to understand that the ice cream’s dangerous to have in your house and to start making plans around when you go grocery shopping, you know what aisles you’re avoiding in the first place.

Jeff: Gotcha. That’s me.

Kyle: So looking at this, there’s a handful of tools and strategies out there that are supposed to really help you with prioritization and the most famous of which is the Eisenhower Matrix.

I know that you’ve heard of that before. It’s the idea of breaking down your priorities into two quadrants. So on one axis you have the important projects, and on the other you have urgent projects. And I’ve really struggled with this framework, because to me, first of all, it puts a lot of focus on the concept of urgency.

And I don’t think you can really untie urgency from importance. Like the only thing that makes something urgent is that it’s worth doing in the first place. Also, it doesn’t really give you any tools to define what is important. And that is I think, one of the biggest mental struggles that we run across a lot in our consulting work with marketing leaders, the thing we hear the most is that everything is important when we’re trying to do that work to prioritize and figure out what not to do. Everything feels like it is important, and that means that really nothing is important if you can’t decide what you wanna do first.

Jeff: Well, and just I think there’s some context around the Eisenhower Matrix, you know, the important and urgent. I mean, I think they get blended together, but you know, Eisenhower developed that as a military leader, right? And so I think there could be some argument that maybe there are urgent things where there’s, I guess, more contrast between urgent and important.

I think the error comes when we try to apply it to marketing where the truth is we have to put things in sort of their place in the universe and nobody’s gonna die you know, if you don’t get that Facebook ad done or whatever. So, I guess all I’m trying to say there is that like a lot of these tools, and I think as often happens, you know, they’re like these military metaphors, sports metaphors, you apply them to marketing and they really fall apart. I mean, there’s lessons to be learned from them, but we really, as marketing leaders need to develop our own set of tools that fit the job that we’re talking about, and that’s why we’re having this conversation.

Kyle: Exactly, and you and I, when we’ve ran workshops trying to help departments prioritize their marketing efforts, we’ve kind of modified that concept into what we call the impact achievability matrix. And that’s really replacing importance with impact and urgency with achievability. Which I think is an improvement, but it still doesn’t really help you sort through what projects are important enough to do. And what I’ve discovered is that the solution for that really comes down to determining why a task or project was in your consideration set in the first place. Because I think that that’s the thinking that a lot of us aren’t really doing when it comes to this prioritization.

There’s a lot of just kind of accepting, oh, this is the stable of things that we need to do, and now we need to sort through which one of them is the most important. And though you might be able to calculate the impact of a project, oftentimes the projects that we spend our time and energy on are important for reasons other than their potential impact on business goals.

Jeff: Hah. Well, there’s a lot, a lot to dig in there because, I mean, I guess the first thing is you have to overcome this assumption that just because something is on your list or was put on your list by somebody else, therefore now it’s your issue , right? Like, I mean, you gotta overcome that. And it is funny, what comes to my mind is the song lyrics by the talking heads, the once in a lifetime, you know? This is not my beautiful life. This is not my beautiful house. And that, you know, that song is largely about this idea of the, this, you wake up one day and there’s this world that you didn’t mean to have. And I think, frankly, that’s where marketers are most days.

Right. Like they have this to-do list and, and they’re sitting there going, this doesn’t make any sense that I’m so obsessed with this, you know, archaic or very detailed analytics task that is never gonna be actually applied to my work or to the bigger mission of the company. It’s just something to keep a boss or whoever else happy.

Kyle: I would wager that the vast majority of marketing leaders feel like they have very little control of their day. Because when they come into the office or sit down at their desk in the morning, most of the things that are on their to-do list are not coming from their own mind and what they really think needs to happen, it’s coming from outside in.

Jeff: Yep. So I guess just to summarize that, just that thought that you had the bottom line is, We need to focus on the impact on the project or the bigger goals, not just the simple fact that the priority, so-called priority exists, right? But I think we confuse that all the time.

Kyle: And psychologically it’s really important to understand where that’s coming from and why it feels important to you. What I would really recommend is that like as a kind of experiment with it. If you spend the day tracking everything that you do, and then you sit down and honestly answer the question for each of those why was this important to do today?

You’ll usually find that there’s a lot deeper psychological reasons behind the tasks that you prioritize that it’s not just. Oh, I thought this was a good idea. Or, oh, it was, you know, scheduled to get done today or what have you. That there’s a lot deeper kind of relational and sense of self issues that are at play with what you prioritized in the day.

Jeff: Like it could be something as simple as you told somebody you would do it, and now you, your identity is tied to this, right? I’m a person who does what I say I’m going to do. So now all of a sudden you’ve sort of boxed yourself in on that. Or it could be that the certain person with a certain role in your company or a certain role in your life is asking for it.

So, I mean, I can say this as a person who’s owned a firm owned firms, marketing agencies, startups, software companies over the years, and it’s one of the more annoying things, and it’s my own fault, that as quote the boss, when you ask for something, people scurry around to get that thing done, it becomes a top priority, even though I’d never intended it that way, but just because of sort of our different roles in the company, people assume that right.

Kyle: Yeah, exactly. Like there’s a lot that is going behind that. You know, the lizard brain in our bodies is reacting to, that’s not necessarily logical, but that’s trying to protect ourselves and that’s actually a large part of, in the modern workplace, what we’re really trying to tackle and work around is those lizard brain instincts for

Jeff: Right, exactly. So, so what would you think, what do you think those psychological reasons would be or are?

Kyle: So I put it into kind of four buckets. Number one: because I think it’s a good use of my time and resources. Like that’s really the answer that you want when you’re going through your list of tasks in the day.

If you can get to a place where the majority of those tasks you did because you thought it was a good idea, that you thought it would have impact all of those pieces, and that’s really the golden place to be.

Jeff: And not to get like too buzz wordy or whatever, but ideally those are things that you’re working, quote, in your zone of genius, you’re more, you know, it’s, you’re doing what you do best, where you can contribute, bring more to the game than everybody else. You’re the perfectly suited human being to take on that task.

Kyle: But I don’t think that that is where most people’s tasks fit into their days. As you were talking about, I think that the second bucket is one of the biggest mental gaps to jump over, and that’s because my boss asked me to. Requests that are coming from leadership, as you said, they’re really one of the biggest forces for pushing a marketing department off of its established course.

I know when I was a marketing manager, That when I got a request from, you know, the person that is in charge of the entire business, when I would get an email at 2:00 AM at night, it’s very hard not to say, okay, this is my new next important thing. But even as you said, that’s not necessarily always the intention of the boss. Oftentimes, you know, they’re just busy and trying to get something off their plate when they’re thinking about it and not necessarily saying, Hey, redirect your course entirely for this one thing.

Jeff: Yeah. It’s like that the, you know, the get stuff done method kind of deal where people are trying to delegate things that are less than five minute tasks, or, or, you know, they’re, they’re either trying to determine if they can do them or if they should delegate it out. and the, that email gets shot out on a Sunday evening or two in the morning, like you said.

And the person doing the quote delegation is thinking one thing and the person receiving that is receiving different things. So I think this is really important for leaders to hear this because we need to be blunt. We need to be plain spoken. We need to be, we need to express what our intent is when we ask people for something so that we’re not causing this problem.

Kyle: Yeah. Because this works in both directions for marketing leaders, that it’s not only understanding that you know, if the CEO of your company makes a request of you, that’s not necessarily a, Hey, jump on this right away. But also understanding that the request you’re making to your team can be what’s getting your team off strategy, off your priorities, off focus.

Jeff: Yeah, I think, I bet if you ask most marketing, like team members, department team members, they don’t even know what the heck you’re talking about in the first place. Like what they should be focusing on as a sort of priority list in the first point from, from an organizational standpoint, I mean, right.

So it seems like you’d have to figure out how you’re articulating that vision and the, that seems like a real key step in all this.

Kyle: Yep. Yeah. And I, I really think that that’s what this all comes down to is communication. Because that’s something that I see over and over again is that it’s this concept that I call filling the gap that your leadership sees, things that they think are problems, and it might be a problem, it might not be a problem, but it’s just something that’s a gap in the plan.

And what happens is that leader then, they don’t know if you have a plan for addressing that problem or maybe that you’re focusing your resources on something else. That’s such an obviously better use of your team’s time. So what they do is that they start putting an effort into thinking of ways to try to fill that gap.

But that’s not what a CEO wants to be doing. They don’t wanna be sitting down and thinking about, you know, what should we be doing around marketing? They just have, their own fear of “Hey, we’re missing out on this thing and I don’t know what’s happening there.” And they start trying to fill that gap themselves to try to assuage those fears.

I think that one of the main roles of a marketing leader is to have that well-communicated vision of what you’re trying to do and why that is important and whether that matches the request or not. If you can really lay the groundwork for, Hey, this thing that I’m doing right now is the important thing to be doing, that’s what will kind of stop those requests coming in. It can also make it easier to communicate about requests, any of those things.

Jeff: Well, you get to frame the discussion as the leader versus having, the CEO or whoever sort of frame that discussion. So this is like the definition of being unReactive, right? It’s it’s being proactive in figuring out how you are gonna lead the company and the department in your way.

And I guess, it seems like we should say this, in a world of AI and all these other things, you, you may think right now you’re doing yourself a favor by just being a yes person, doing what your boss wants or asks in those two in the morning requests, kind of without thought. As these tools come up, you know, the rise of the robots. Our job is more, more to be leaders and humans. Dissecting these details and less and less doers, we should have more positive conflict in our organizations as we work through these details. I guess it just seems to me like the real key thing is you have to embrace the fact that your job is to speak up.

Your job isn’t just to take orders.

Kyle: You can think of it in the same if you’re leading a team, what you want from your team members that you’re leading. Like you don’t want them to be unthinking and not push back on ideas and be bringing more to the relationship. So you also shouldn’t do the same upwards in your organization.

There’s no value that you bring in just being a paper pusher that checks things off a list.

Jeff: Which is a bigger cultural discussion, which I’m sure we’ll be hitting in later conversations.

Kyle: I think that part of it also is that even with a well communicated vision, you’ll still deal sometimes with occasional one-off request. You know, like your CEO is doing a speech tomorrow and forgot to put something together that. You know, that brings value in being able to turn that around.

But the goal is to try to make it so that your life isn’t 90%, those type of requests and things getting you off course, that you’ve made room to be useful in that way when it’s necessary.

Jeff: and Yeah. And that you’ve actually identified the difference that you, yourself can tell the difference. I mean, I think a lot of times we’ve put ourselves in a situation that we basically are so busy doing the work that we don’t think about the process of doing the work, which is a lot of what we’re discussing here.

And so the, I guess the point being doing things intentionally and be making it aware and not just going through the motions.

Kyle: Yep. So the third bucket that I would say that these fall into is the concept of, it’s important to me because my team or other teams rely on me to do this, and I think that this is actually one of the hardest ones to change your behavior around because it feels much more like a relational need that, you know, if somebody is prioritizing a task themselves and it relies on you to do something, it feels really hard to say, actually, no, I can’t do that today, or I can’t do this until such and such time.

Because it feels like you’re letting somebody else down. And that’s a really hard feeling to deal with. And I think that it’s really important to start to understand and contextualize when that’s happening and also understand that the more you lean into that, the less you’re able to do that kind of forward thinking work that’s actually going to change things.

Jeff: Okay, so another way of thinking about this, right, this effect or this cause is like our herd instinct, right? It’s the human’s desire to be like the rest of the herd and to run with our herd and the protection we feel of being in the herd. But innovation and progress by definition require that you escape the herd to some degree, right?

Like a wildebeest herd is not innovating unless it’s accidental. So a lot of this in my mind is being able to identify that that’s happening, but then understanding, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re gonna even feel a little tension with this in your, in, in your, in yourself, right?

When you’re, when you push back against it. But you have to like retrain your brain to go, oh, no. Am I in the herd instinct or am I sort of in the progress mode?

Kyle: And I think this is one of the cases where it’s the most clear cut you need to make a choice between short-term and long-term goals because let’s take like a sales team request as an example. If they’re coming to you saying, Hey, I need this one sheet, or what have you by 3:00 PM tomorrow that’s really hard to just say no to. But in reality, the opportunity costs of your team, turning their attention to that piece is that you’re not able to, you know, make that progress on your sales enablement platform that would make it to where they don’t need to make those requests to you at all.

And the sales team would much prefer that because then they don’t have the stress of trying to grab things from thin air before each important meeting they have, obviously you’d prefer it, but you end up not being able to do that work at all because you’re focusing on all these short-term gains.

Jeff: The idea is really around how do you say no in practical terms. To that, how do you say no? When you, you, you recognize the trade off and I guess a couple things that come to mind. One is you can sort of make it a binary decision for the person putting it on your list. You can say, would you rather me working on this on A or on B?

And you know, especially if that’s coming from a boss level, a senior level person, you can make them choose. We need. Get better at making sure people understand that there are other things on our lists and we are going through this active sort of prioritization process and more importantly, deciding which priorities I’m gonna get through. And the reality is I can’t do them all. I don’t have enough time or energy in my day. And so I guess I’m looking at, at my sort of comeback to this, or my response to this idea of my team relies on me to do this as an educational opportunity more than sort of a no opportunity.

Kyle: Yeah. And ideally it’s an educational opportunity that you’ve already hit on before, cuz that’s that importance of setting that kind of vision and pieces of those is that it’s hard to come to a request the first time and just say no. But if you are laying that groundwork for what you’re spending your time on, and I think even more importantly, it’s not just what you’re doing, but how long it’s going to take.

Jeff: Yeah. Right. So what you’re saying is the communication, sort of the definition of the, the vision, strategy, goals, whatever those things look like in your organization. So the definition of it, the communication of it. Then what I’m saying is that education is sort of re communicating.

Kyle: So the last bucket that I would put these into is much more focused on kind of your perception of self than your perception of other people and your relationship with your boss. All of those things. And it’s because I’m expected to do this and it comes in a ton of different flavors because a lot of ‘em are usually like cultural aspects of your organization.

If everybody else in your organization responds to emails in five minutes time, then you’re gonna spend a lot of your day in your inbox just answering emails. Even though that is usually not kind of a, uh, set expectation of, oh, every email should be answered in five minutes time, you. Kind of just culturally expect yourself to kind of fit in in that way.

But it also can oftentimes come from just an industry expectation, and I feel like that’s something that marketers particularly fall into a lot. A good marketer should be doing these things like, we call it marketing FOMO - a fear of missing out - that it’s like, you know, you see somebody doing something cool on TikTok and then you start thinking “Oh, if I’m gonna be competent in my job, then I need to be doing cool shit on TikTok too.”

Jeff: Yeah. And the problem with that is it never ends. I mean, it is just like a never ending list, right? There will always be something else to do. And another idea “Why aren’t we doing this?” I was just at a trade show and somebody came back to the client afterwards, we had a very successful trade show.

But one of their sales folks came back and said, oh, this other company was doing these social media awards and a bunch of people showed up at their booth to listen to these social media awards. Why don’t we do that? That was the, you know, that’s a classic example of sort of putting some FOMO in a marketer’s head and, and the answer to that is that doesn’t fit us.

That fits that brand for a whole list of reasons and it doesn’t make sense for us.

Kyle: Or it’s just maybe it would make sense for us, but we’ve made a decision to do these things and if we’ve are going to do those things well, we can’t also do this well.

Jeff: Boy, that’s such a good point. Just because it makes sense for you doesn’t mean it makes sense for you.

Kyle: Yeah.

Jeff: I mean, in other words, it could be, it could be theoretically a tactic that makes sense to you, but if it doesn’t fit into your strategy, your designed plan for victory, then it doesn’t make sense

Kyle: Yeah, and it is very much kind of that organizational marketing ADHD that comes up all the time of like, you see that new shiny object and you start pushing towards that and you never really bring anything to its completion. And that comes a lot from this expectation of yourself and what you want your department to be.

Jeff: Well, and as a leader, are you building a culture where plate spinning is valuable or valued? I.e., you know, the plates are in the air, or are you building a culture of No, we are trying to get as few plates spinning as possible. So as soon as we can get done with that plate, let’s move on to the new plate, or whatever that is.

But the truth is, a lot of companies and organizations value busyness and the, the sort of the appearance of busyness over the actual accomplishment of goals.

Kyle: And I think that’s a lot of what we’re trying to do with upMarketer and unReactive is that just because an organization values that busyness doesn’t mean that that’s fulfilling to you as a marketing leader.

Jeff: That’s the point of this whole discussion. Just to say it like this point, we’re, we’re sort of talking about it, or I am at least and organizationally how it all works, you know, to move a company forward. But the reality is our discussion is about you as a human being, and how do you make your life manageable and hopefully better than manageable, hopefully actually enjoyable.

Kyle: Yeah, like as you were saying, you know, marketers are generally optimistic people that like to create things and one of the biggest pain points in the job is that it’s hard to actually get your things launched, get ‘em through, see your ideas through, and that is because a marketing department really can’t be playing into that organizational culture of plate spinning and busyness.

It really takes deep focused work to create good products. So if you got into marketing to do that, you need to be willing as a leader to, you know, push against that organization in ways to do your best work and get that fulfillment.

Jeff: I can’t add to that. That’s the job. What you just said is that’s, that’s the job really. It’s not, your job is not to create stuff for a living. Your job is to help lead the organization from a marketing perspective. Yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff.

Kyle: Yeah. So just to kind of wrap this up, we talked a little bit about doing this exercise from a daily perspective of going through and thinking through your day, and why was that important to do today? But I think that this mental model can really be applied to, you know, planning on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, quarterly, what have you, and to all of the work of your team, because really what it’s about is taking all of your projects and listing them out. And then first asking yourself what impact would it have upon completion? Understanding what could happen out of this. And then asking yourself, why was it important enough to consider in the first place?

And if you do that work for all of your projects, you’re gonna be in a place to make stronger, more informed decisions about where to focus your time and energy. But then the question comes when you’ve got low impact projects that have high importance for all these reasons we talked about, because your boss wants it to happen because people rely on you, what have you, uh, what should you do? To me, I think that there’s two paths that you can take. Number one is you can give yourself permission to ignore it. Especially the ones in the, because I’m expected to bucket, because the ability to be confident in your decisions and accept the opportunity costs that that will accrue is really one of the best gifts that you can give to yourself and your peace of mind and your ability to get shit done.

Jeff: It’s like personal agency. It’s like admitting or or stating or claiming your stake to your role as an independent human being who can make decisions, who is valuable to the organization and has this knowledge to move the organization forward. And so like we call that confidence. And I would just say the real thing is to get the competence so that you can build the confidence that you can feel that way.

Kyle: The other thing that it does is it really frees up mental energy that if you make the kind of definitive decision of I’m not going to worry about this thing, then all of the room in your brain that was being taken up by worrying about that suddenly gets freed up to focus on the things you actually think are worth doing.

Jeff: That’s hard to do, but you know, the reality is the most harried people, you know, are usually the people that that have not found that sort of peace and, and point of view inside themselves and are totally externally based. Right? So, we can look around the world and, and say that the alternative doesn’t work, so we should try this method instead.

And I think part of that too is just, you know, accepting that it’s not gonna be a perfect process. Like even that you’re gonna sometimes say, I shouldn’t care about things that maybe you should have cared about. But, you know, that’s okay. I mean, in the end of the day we’re all playing the long game here.

And it’s the, those, like I said, the harried people that are, you know, just trying to live for today’s problem that usually end up finding themselves in more trouble than the people who are, you know, sort of captains of their own ship, so to speak.

Kyle: Precisely. Yeah. And, and the other path that you can take on those is if you really don’t think that you can ignore it, you know that if it’s like, I can’t just ignore this problem entirely, then you need to start making those plans to get those tasks off your plate in the future.

In t he case of something coming from your team, usually this can be managed through processes of, you know, how things work today. This person on my team needs me to do this, but we can start planning for how tomorrow that doesn’t need to be a case. And then when it comes to your boss and outside requests, that’s really about communication, having a vision and making sure that it’s understood throughout the organization.

Jeff: Yep. And have you built enough slack into your life to be able to do that? So what I mean by that is, you know, if you’re planning your, your life at 110% capacity, then it’s really hard, to give yourself time to even think through these things that you’re, you’re just talking about, right? So you have to almost plan your schedule at 90% because that 10% is super valuable just to get the ax sharpening right, the prioritization right.

Kyle: And it just proves the importance of saying no to some things because you need to say no to at least a few tasks to even have the room in your brain and schedule to start building that process for the future or else you’re never going to get out of that kind of cycle of suck that you’ve put yourself into.

Jeff: Exactly. I love it.

Kyle: All right. Any last thoughts before we close up on this?

Jeff: I mean my main thought is that priorities, it’s all very personal. You know, priorities are personal and how you attack it are per personal and you outline the four, you know, sort of buckets that people can put it in. But I think if those, if you’ve examined these buckets and gone through this process and you still find yourself struggling, then you might have to look at other things going on in your life, right?

I mean, it could literally be burnout or adult onset ADD or any number of other things if you keep finding struggle with, with these things. But in the, at the end of the day we’re all going through these, using these frameworks to find the system that works for us.

And I don’t believe, you know, we can learn from all these books and maybe even podcasts like this, but the reality is you’re gonna hone it to make it your own because it’s only by making it your own that you can build that sort of confidence and sort of, uh, you know, one of a kind. I don’t know, mentality, the idea that you are one of a kind and that your opinions are valuable and useful and your skills are valuable and useful.

So anyway, all bottom line is, yeah, this is all a very personal process and we’re hitting the big pictures, but it’s really up to us to explore what works, for us on an individual level.

Kyle: Yeah, and it’s all with the goal of trying to make your life more. Meaningful, purposeful, and you know, not as hectic.

Jeff: You know, this work is important. Work is important and most of the work we do is important. You know companies exist to fill, fulfill needs but we can’t do that if we’re all a bunch of zombies burnt out, worn out. Um, so hopefully this helps.

Kyle: Thank you all for listening today. If you wanna get more content like this directly in your inbox, be sure to sign up for the unReactive newsletter at upmarketer.io. And if you have any topics you’d like to hear discussed please reach out to us on our website or social media. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for chatting today, Jeff.

Jeff: Thanks for putting it together, Kyle.

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