How we spend our days is critical to where we end up in the future. That’s because time is linear, and once it’s gone there is no back button. So once we spend it, we’ve spent it and have to move forward. Of course, this applies to our workdays as well and we’ve all seen how mismanagement plays out.
Missed deadlines, unhappy clients, lost partnership deals, and many more fallouts occur from not getting things done in a timely manner. With that, we have an easy understanding of why staying on schedule is important. But what about when we need to work on more than one thing? That’s when prioritization comes in! Today, we’ll go over how to do that better and more effectively.
Understand What’s On Your Plate
Most of the time in life we live off our assumption of things, as opposed to getting defining clarity. To be fair, sometimes assuming is the only option because there isn’t enough information to reach clarity. However, those instances are few and far in between for most things in your work life. Here unknowns and false assumptions on difficulty and importance will always lead to larger problems.
So for my first tip, I’m going to give is to make sure you understand fully every project/initiative assigned to you. There is no prioritization possible when you don’t have the full grasp of everything in front of you.
Determine Accurate Degree Of Impact
Moving beyond direct product outcomes alone, there is more to consider when figuring out the lasting impact of doing something. Think of a situation where you have three tasks: A, B, and C. B is independent of the other two, while A is an important prerequisite into working on and completing C. Adding in another wrinkle, let’s say that there is a monetary gain associated with C that is larger than B. What do you do?
Well, the obvious instinct would probably be to try to get A done before B. This however is only possible depending on the timelines and capabilities of the team. So to make it easier, let’s say B has a deadline that can be pushed out a bit. The best solution here would be to work on A first, transition to B, then continue onto C. In a different case where B is a smaller task, and/or you have a different team capability, B would come first.
We lightly touched on this with our last point, but this is critical in anything you do. Most initiatives worked on that end up in a state that needs to be redone, or creates foundational problems, later on, are from the overestimation of abilities. This is a mix of things: pride, over-inflated self-esteem, and lack of awareness of what you don’t know. In truth, admitting where you’re confused or not as strong is the biggest indicator of a person’s ability to be an effective leader and become a cornerstone of the team.
Prioritizing isn’t hard, and takes little time. The biggest blockers for most people and teams come from the group, not the tasks. Taking a step back to understand, evaluate yourself and your teammates, and look into the possible futures is what determines if your prioritization plan is a success. So keep that in mind, and don’t forget, leave your pride and ego outside the door.