Saturday, July 21, 2007

Juggling and Prioritization

Back from travel to the SYNNEX National Sales conference in Greenville SC. Great event. Good attendance and satisfied customers and vendors. Lots of opportunities also.

One of my friends wrote me an email that I thought I would respond to in my blog:

P. S. Thanks a lot for the Nine Ways to Beat Procrastination posting on your blog. Procrastination is the problem I am fighting right now myself, so I will take a look at your suggestions ;) I was also wondering if I can apply these Nine Ways when I work on several completely different projects at once, and do not know how to prioritize them, what to start first, what second, should I accomplish one project first, and then move to another, or do them in parallel etc.

Clearly my job involves many different priorities. I routinely juggle many different tasks. Every successful person does. The following article explains

1 - I am a big beleiver in TO DO lists. Without a list of everything I have to do, I would not be able to prioritize it. And of course, prioritization is key. I like to work on only my top 3 or 4. And of course, priorities change so sometimes I review and change them.

2 - One way to break through tasks is to set rules. If I can complete the task in 15 minutes or less - I just do it. If I am swamped and behind, I modify this to 10 or even 5 minutes and if I am on top of things, I lengthen it to 20 or 30 minutes. By doing this, I do not need to switch as often and I have less things to do.

3 - The power of focus. There is great power in focusing on just one task at once. Switching and flitting tends to not produce results. Every time you stop and start something, there is a short re-learning time. Avoid this by developing the discipline to do one thing at once.

4 - I read once that a change is as good as a rest. I use this. I can switch off an intense task and do another lower priority one for a while. Especially if it is quite different than the priority task. For example, perhaps my top priority task is finishing a proposal. This is solitary desk work. Switching to meeting with someone or even talking on the phone can be a good break from it. Of course, I do keep my true priorities in mind or this would be a great procrastination tool.

5 - Sometimes leaving a project produces better results. this is particularly true of creative work like writing. Of course this can also be an excuse to procrastinate. i am not suggesting not getting back to it. I am suggesting work intensely, then go away and while you are not working on it, ideas about it tend to flow. My rule is to leave a project when I feel I am being less than productive on it.

So to try to answer the question - best to finish or best to work on more than one at once?

My view - if it is short enough - just do it. If it will not get better if you leave it - just do it. If you do not need a break - just do it.


At 5:32 AM, Blogger Tomi Astikainen said...


Just my two cents: Sometimes writing "stop doing lists" can be more powerful than "to do" lists. It helps you avoid unwanted behaviors at work.

My friend had a habit of planning her next day based on the long-term plan and modify it according to the emails she opened 3 pm. She wouldn't touch the email the next morning but was disciplined to open it only at 3 pm. She achieved twice as much as the rest of us in the team and she was out of the office by 4:30 every day leaving personal time for the evenings!


PS: Hey, if you want check out our company's leadership blog in


Post a Comment

<< Home