Friday, October 17, 2008

Time Management and Priorities

Priorities - the Quest for Effectiveness

The key to effectiveness is working on the right priority items.

Every time management book I have read (including my own) suggests that you have a To Do List and one of the reasons is so you can prioritize what is most important to do.

The key with priorities is:

1. They change, what might be a top priority today might be a low priority tomorrow and visa versa. I know the current state of the financial markets certainly caused me to shift a lot of my priorities fast.

2. Most people tend to spend their time on the urgent and not necessarily the important. The key with priorities is to think about what are the important things. It seems like shorter deadline things tend to take priority but when you look at truly successful people, they tend to focus on long term, keeping priorities straight, and working on long term priorities and that tends to be where success is had.

3. Perfection kills: one thing that stops people from working on priority tasks is perfectionism. I am not saying that it is never right to do something perfectly; however, often good enough is fine.

4. The 15 minute rule: one trick I use is to work on a priority task for 15 minutes. Even spending just 15 minutes on it tends to move me forward.

5. One trick on To Do Lists is to add the first task to do to get the to do list moved forward on the list. Often simply putting it on the list makes me start doing it. And it makes me think about what needs to be done.

6. Life is about making choices but life has fewer limits than you might think. Often I have many priorities to deal with at the same time. Although sometimes it makes me feel stressed, I realize it is who I am.

7. A change is as good as a rest. Often switching from one priority task to another priority task can help you be more effective.

8. Ask for input. One of the tricks that I use is to list my priorities and then circulate them to a few people and ask if they seem like appropriate priorities. From that I get feedback and I am able to change the list so I work on the appropriate items.

9. Share priorities and you will get help. By letting people know what my priorities are, I am often able to get other people to help me.

10. Important priorities are often not the easy path, but successful people do tough things and that is one of the things that I say to motivate myself to do some of those difficult things.

Now I have to think of my priorities. I am sitting in the airport lounge in Hong Kong (spent a week at the Electronics show). About to board a 15 hour flight. I need to switch my time zone by 12 hours. When I get back, I need to be "on" because we have a sales conference this weekend.

I am mindful of the need for rest as well as the need for productivity. It is a balance.


At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wee little line in your post that is the gateway to much productivity is

"A change is as good as a rest."

My mother used to say that the only difference between work and play is attitude. It's true and that's why changing to another task/challenge is as much a break as taking a break.


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