The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Career Changers - How To Schedule Your Priorities  

By Gillian Watson, Associate Elect & Legends Report Writer

In this third part of the Guide To Your Dream Career, we explore the importance of prioritising your schedule to become more personally effective in your career - how you can start to put first things first.

Finding The Right Direction For Your Career Plan 

When last did you feel like you had free time to work on yourself? Without guilt or foreboding fear that you have other things that need doing?

Many careers and jobs are run by the clock under the auspices of time management. Most people's frame of mind and discussions are centred around efficiency, scheduling and control. Essentially managing your time and trying to do more things faster, pack more into a workday and pretend you feel more accomplished by a longer list at the end of it.  Have you felt you aren’t able to cope with the demands of fitting more things into your day? That you are always running out of time?

In part 2 we worked on identifying what you want for your career. By imagining what you want to work towards and by doing that, you started to write the programme of your own life. In this part of the series, we look at how you can start putting that programme into action.

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” James Christensen, artist and author 

Shifting Your Focus

Instead of focusing on the ever ticking clock, the alternate option is to rather be guided by doing things on purpose, for a purpose. Imagine a compass, instead of a clock.  To think in terms of being effective and guided by principles first. This key change in mindset puts relationships, not tasks, as the cornerstone for effectiveness. Stephen Covey discusses that:

“The older one becomes and the wider and deeper the perspective of a person's life is, the more relationships become the supreme thing and the essence of all effectiveness basically deals with people with relationships. [...] Get into this frame of reference, this new paradigm, this new map based upon relationships not schedules, based upon principles not values, based upon leadership first then management, based upon a compass and then the clock”. 

See more from Stephen Covey here: Put First Things First - Part A: Your First Things

Put First Things First

Moving from vision to action will require changing behaviours and developing your discipline to prioritise how to spend your time.

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." - Stephen Covey

  1. Reconnect to your mission
    • Creating your vision is not an isolated or one-off action. It is a living and breathing work in progress as you move closer to your ideal career. Keeping it in your mind and close to everything you do, will help you manage your schedule according to your vision, instead of having your vision overshadowed by your schedule.
  2. Review what roles you play in your career
    • Who are you at work? Are you a manager, a colleague, a mentor, a technician, a team member? For all of us, we are a combination of many of these different roles. For every role you perform, there need to be goals in place so the time spent performing it is most effective. Whether it’s as a manager, technician, committee member, project manager or a combination of many others, understanding how important each role is to your vision, will help prioritise the goals that are linked to each.
    • By organising these roles you should also see if there are any gaps for achieving your vision. If you want to study further, but you have not prioritised time as a learner, will you achieve your goal to graduate?  Or if you want to pursue a promotion but haven’t looked into finding a mentor in the areas you feel you need to grow, have you really prioritised personal development?
  3. Organise your goals weekly
    • Traditional time management is about creating efficiency through scheduling daily tasks, often with unnecessary urgency and short term results. Effective personal management is more focused on long term planning. Knowing what you want to achieve during the week, as opposed to each day, allows for flexibility within your schedule.
    • When you start focusing on relationships; meetings or discussions might not be able to neatly fit into a pre-set time frame and with a focused understanding of your priorities, you can adjust accordingly.   Investing in the person, instead of the meeting room schedule.
    • Find out more about What Successful People Do on a Sunday
  4. Focus on relationships
    • Particularly as you are starting out, having people support and guide you on your purposeful journey can help immensely.  There are many ways to develop relationships that will align with your vision
      • Discuss with peers and managers in your current situation about where they feel you can improve on your relational skills
      • Find groups of people in your desired career to build your network and understanding of that career
      • Consult with a mentor in the field you are interested in or in the skills you feel you need the most growth in (they may not be in your industry, but rather exhibit values or behaviours you want to learn from)
      • Look for inspiring leaders in the industry you want to be a part of and research their achievements and what sets them apart

Turning your vision into actions will help you start to take control of where your life is headed.  Just like any habit, it's going to take work and it's going to take time. But the more you work on this, the easier it becomes!

How To Apply This

How can you start scheduling your priorities?

    Start by thinking about how you feel in your current role or career.
    This best describes my workdays:

    Always in crisis management, I never get to anything on my own list!I always have good intentions when I arrive at work, but my task list only gets longer, not shorterI try make time for what my role should be, but I still go home with a sense that I could have done moreI get home so tired from my day, that I hardly ever work on my own interestsEvery year I start with Goals that I want to achieve, but hardly ever focus on themOther...

    Think about how you would want to change these feelings.Next, identify where you might not have control in your daily routine. When do you feel the most disappointed or drained after spending time on this activity? Let us know:

    Watching TV,Playing online games,Scrolling through social mediaIn transit to and from work,During unstructured meetings,Getting pulled into other people's urgent needsOther…

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    By thinking about the above 2 scenarios, what small changes can you already identify in each day that will help you towards more time to focus and better prioritising?

    If you want to make a change but aren't sure how to get moving forward, reach out on live chat to speak with one of our mentors.

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