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photo by http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/paukrus/

Yes, I agree, we don’t have enough time to do all of the things we want to do. Here’s a thought exercise that might unblock you from that way of thinking. You need a map to point you where you want to go today.

First, think of all of the things you need to do (if it helps to have a limit, list 20). Now ask yourself: which of these things would really hurt if they didn’t get done? Your definition could include work, home, or life priorities or could blend the three.

Next, pick the top 5 projects from this list and stack rank them to find your most important projects. If you have challenges with the top 5, pick the top 10.

When you stack rank your projects, you force yourself to make decisions about where to spend time. If certain ideas never make it into your list, make an effort to change the priority or remove them from your list.

This list of projects is not very useful without an overall goal. The BHAG – or Big Hairy Audacious Goal (thanks, Tom Peters for this vivid image) helps to see where you are going. A goal that’s so big it is scary also forces you to think in new terms to solve a new problem.

As you solve these new problems, you will need help. Consider building a personal board of directors made up of amazing people with different strengths. Like the baseball manager who can bring in the superstar reliever, you need to find the people in your network who can give you unique insights when you need them.

Stack ranking your list of projects is clearly not the only way to organize your time. But it forces you to state what you are doing, arrange that list into priorities, and orient the priorities so that they point toward a “North Star”: your big goal.

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