“Hey Mary, can you come facilitate our board retreat… today?”
I received this call recently and could hardly stifle my laughter.
You see, I often speak to groups of entrepreneurs about priorities and productivity, and this is the example I give:
“What if someone calls you at 10:30am and says their luncheon speaker just cancelled and they want to know if you’re available? If you have client work due at noon, and you already put it off until the moment you received the call, you’re going to have to decline what could potentially be a very lucrative speaking engagement. Get your top priorities done first so you can jump on opportunities when they arrive.”
So when I received this very last minute request for a paid, same-day opportunity, you can understand my amusement!
Then I did exactly what I teach:
- Check your priorities. I looked at the priorities on my action list and evaluated whether or not this new opportunity superseded what I’d already planned.
- Confirm whether the opportunity is in alignment with your goals. I thought about the opportunity again and evaluated it against my bigger goals to make sure it was a fit.
- Make sure you have enough time to deliver quality. I checked the clock to make sure I could actually make it there, not just on time but also prepared to speak.
This opportunity passed all three criteria, so I accepted.
It’s also important to note that I was able to make this decision in a matter of seconds because I had a few things set up in advance: clear business goals, and a set schedule and action plan for the day.
For those times when we get these last-minute calls, it’s great if we can be flexible but we also have to take care of ourselves by first considering our priorities. Just because someone says, “Jump!” we don’t have to react, “How high?”. By getting in the practice of going over the next days tasks the night before, we are much more prepared to start the day with clear intentions. And, knowing exactly what needs to be done creates potential to be flexible for opportunities.