To Do or Not to Do – The Art of Prioritizing

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.”
– Charles Darwin

 

Effective prioritization is an essential part of being able to work and manage efficiently.

When we begin each day, most of us have a clear idea of what we aim to achieve that day—our priorities. We have schedules in our diaries, our PC calendars, our Palm Organizers—our “to do” lists. But, as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.”

Very few managers have the luxury of being able to work without interruption, without problems, without ad hoc meetings. In fact, we should question the credibility of any manager who claims to do so. By its very nature, being a manager means being available to deal with all the issues that arise in a dynamic business. But many of these issues have a gargantuan appetite for eating time and playing havoc with the “to do” list.

A manager’s task is to achieve results. As well as the day-to-day managing function, manager’s skills are frequently in demand for research, development and innovation projects that will enable the organization to progress. These plan can be very stimulating to work on but they require concentration and dedication to the task. How to do all this and still get the day-to-day job done? How to make progress on your goals and objectives and still deal with all the inevitable distractions that make up a manager’s job?

The key is effective prioritization, but this does not simply mean doing everything that is on the list. In all likelihood, it will be impossible to achieve this, so the effective manager has to identify what is critical—what must be done today, this week, this month, this year.

Once the priorities have been identified, two keys skills help to ensure that the prioritized tasks do reach fruition—good time management and the ability to delegate.

Productive meetings are in important tool for clarifying priorities and making progress towards getting results. However, too many meetings are ineffective. The ability to run a good meeting is an essential skill to acquire to maximize efficiency and assist prioritization.

This chart, the Eisenhower Matrix, will be able to help you to decide which task should be done first, which to delegate, which to schedule and which to eliminate. There is a difference between importance and urgency. If a task is urgent and important, you should do it immediately without procrastination. If a task is urgent but not important, you should delegate it and supervise the progress. If a task is important but not urgent then schedule for a time for you to do that in the near future.

Effective prioritization depends on efficient process management systems—good office organization, file management systems, effective time management, appropriate delegation of tasks and so on.

 

An excerpt from What Bosses Want
By Gary V. Nelson and Bonnie L. Nelson
Founders of NBOGroup

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