People talk about prioritizing a lot. And there is no doubt why. The word offers such promise for a calm and stress-free work day.
However, with all of the talk around prioritizing, one would think that we would see better results. So many of us get caught up in urgent tasks and we find ourselves running from one crisis to the next. Yet these urgent tasks don’t seem to help us to get ahead.
I find that people tend to over-complicate prioritizing. I prefer a simple solution – like the following Prioritization Formula which is both easy to follow and highly effective.
The Prioritizing Formula
Step One: Identify Your Work Categories
What are the top four or five things that you do? Your work categories might include things such as clients, team, sales & marketing, research, special projects, administration, etc.
Step Two: Allocate Your Time
How much time do you want to dedicate to each category of work? Think about a weekly average. And make sure to leave some extra time for lunch and miscellaneous tasks like email.
Step Three: Build a Schedule Structure
Build a routine that allocates time for each of your work categories. If one of your categories perpetually gets pushed to the back burner, consider starting your day with this category. (Business development is a classic example. It often gets bumped in favour of more urgent tasks.) Starting your day with an important (but not urgent) task is a common practice of highly successful people.
Work the Plan
Once you have this plan in place, all you need to do is work the plan. Focus on your top one or two priorities during the time that you have blocked off for that category. The other things are (to be blunt) simply not as important.
Resist the urge to continue giving time to one category at the expense of another. Respecting the boundaries we put in place keeps us focused on our most critical tasks.
Prioritizing is all about doing the right things at the right time.
Keep things simple and you will be refreshingly pleased with your outcomes.