Time Management Rule One – Prioritisation

Time Management Rule one - PrioritisationPrioritising Tasks can be best described as the ability to decide which tasks are the most important and in which order those tasks should be completed.

In order to do this you must have a task list. A Task list is a list of all the things you have to do; as soon as you promise to do something for someone it goes in your task book, break all projects down in to smaller tasks. Only then can you start planning what you will do you and when you will do it.

Review all your tasks and rate them, then re-list in order of rating. You are now in a position to prioritise and schedule them.

Additional filters to help you to prioritise:

  • What will happen if you eliminate the task? – This exercise will remove some unneeded tasks altogether.
  • Should you complete a task in your prime time or secondary time.
  • Who will be affected by completion or non-completion of a task.

Shrink Your List

Unless you have the ability to be in more than one place at a time, you will no doubt need to reduce your workload. Consider these task reduction criteria, before you start prioritising:

Does doing this task or project at this time make sense? Every task or project you get involved with needs to pass this test. Will this task contribute to the achievement of your goals and objectives?  Consider long each task will take, and then imagine how you would use the time if the task were cancelled. I appreciate this is not always possible, but wherever possible everything you do should lead to the achievement of your goals and objectives.

Why is the Task Urgent?

While the urgency of a task should always be kept in mind it should also be vigorously questioned.

  • Is the task urgent only in the eyes of someone else?
  • Why is it urgent?

Many urgent situations did not start off being urgent. Many urgent tasks are caused by others procrastination and mistakes. Identifying why a task has become urgent can lead to the elimination or postponement a task and lead to preventative measures being put in place to avoid a repeat in the future.

Remember a lack of planning by someone else, does not constitute a crisis for you.

The Delegation Qualifier

Are you the best person to handle a task? You may be, but some times the best person is someone else. Delegate whenever possible, it frees up your time and develops others.

How Else Could the Task Be Done?

Are you utilizing technology to help you achieve your tasks, can you call someone instead of visiting them? Conference call technology is improving all the time and can drastically reduce travel time for both you and others.

Could you send an email instead of making a phone call? You can do Email on your terms when you want. You will have time to better articulate your message than having to think on your feet during a live telephone call. You will also save time by eliminating phone tag.

Can the Task Be down in to component parts which could then be delegated, postponed  or eliminated altogether.

What is the Cost of not doing a Task?

There are many tasks that we do not worth the time we take to do them.  Applying a monetary figure to a task when considering not doing it helps to measure the value of a task.

Other way to measures the value of a task:

  • Money – What is the task worth in Pounds and Pence? (Dollars and Cents)
  • Time – How long will it take?
  • Effect – What are the effects of completion or cancellation?
  • Effectiveness – What is the most effective way to complete the task?
  • Contribution – How does it contribute to your goals and objectives?
  • Replacement – What could be done instead?
  • Division – Is there any benefit in splitting the task into parts?
  • When – Do I need to complete the task in my prime time or could it be performed in secondary time?

Give tasks a deadline.

While many people define a start time for projects and tasks, many do not establish a deadline.  A clear deadline makes tasks easier to prioritise. Never accept a task without a deadline. If you cannot get a deadline for the completion of a task, give it one that fits in to your schedule.

In order to manage your time efficiently you must be able to prioritise effectively.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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