Are You Really Prioritising or Just Making Lists?

As many companies approach the beginning of a new financial year, we begin to formalise and confirm strategic plans for the coming 12 months and, in my experience, there is an air of productivity or a renewal of motivation to become more efficient….to fulfill all of these strategic objectives by focussing on the most important tasks.

It seems then like a good time to talk about two of the most effective time and activity management tools that will help us all achieve all of these objectives…

When it comes to being effective with our time, the best selling marketing author Perry Marshall talks about $5/hour, $50/hour, $500/hour and $5000/hour activities and trying to do as much as possible in the latter whilst handing off the former to people in our teams or eliminating the activities altogether if possible. This is a really effective analysis to use when quickly checking if the activity we are carrying out is something that is adding value...use it!

Another great thinker in the field of being effective with our time is Dr Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Contained within the aforementioned book is a model that encourages people to look beyond the urgency or deadlines that exist for the tasks that we ‘must’ complete, but to also rank them by importance. This essentially creates 4 categories of task:

  1. Important and Urgent - where many of us work all of the time; things are really important and need to be done now or negative consequences will be incurred. Not great.

  2. Important but Not Urgent - where we should aim to be working, if we work here we have plenty of time to work on the important things without being rushed or feeling too much pressure, working here prevents wasting time on unimportant tasks and also avoids rushing important work.

  3. Urgent but Not Important - If something is urgent but is not particularly important, as a manager this should be screaming delegate at you. There must be a member of your team with a little less to do than you, whose time does not cost the company quite as much as yours, and whose involvement in this kind of task can help you work in that Important but Not Urgent area more often.

  4. Not Urgent and Not Important - stop doing these things, delete them from your workload and stop things like that from creeping back into your life in general

Simple isn’t it? But it does not always occur to us to analyse our tasks like this, instead, we just make lists with more urgent things on top of less urgent things.

If we want to become more effective we have to use our resources more effectively this means more than just making lists, our resources include:

  • Teams or direct reports
  • Colleagues
  • Time
  • Budgets
  • Suppliers

Click Here to take a look at our Time and Activity Management Workshop that uses tools and methods just like these to ensure that your people are prioritising their activity and focussing on adding value.

We have also included a free tool for mapping out your responsibilities and whether you should actually be keeping them.