How do others approach setting the right priorities?
I have a lot on my to do list and I tend to focus on the day to day tasks I have. I am finding it hard to find time to focus on some of my strategic goals because the rest of my to do items take up all of my time. I am thinking I need to do a better job at setting priorities. How do others tackle their strategic goals while getting all of their pressing daily tasks done?
I've been there before, Kate and I find that these three things have helped me a lot:
There may be less important day to day tasks you could delegate to free up time that will let you focus on the bigger picture. This should shorten your to-do list.
2. Time limit
Set a time limit for each task you have left on your list, then challenge yourself to stick to it. I actually set my alarm to go off after each task is due, and becoming aware of this keeps me alert and on track.
3. Get a journal for your ideas
If you're like me, even when you schedule a specific day for planning strategic goals, you'll find it irresistable sometimes to squeeze it in whenever a new great idea comes to mind. This happens to me, and instead of putting it off where I fear I might forget it, I write it down in my journal of ideas which I always consult on my strategy planning days.
All the tips I've read here are really, really useful! I hope mine will help you as well.
There is a good time management technique that will get more focus on priorities.
Divide your to do list in 4 categories:
1-) IMPORTANT AND URGENT: Should be done first
2-) URGENT BUT NOT IMPORTANT: Should be done second
3-)IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT: Should be done third
4-)NOT IMPORTANT AND NOT URGENT: Should be done After complete all the 3 categories above
Then put the time line for each of your taks and sort by the 4 categories then you would have a good and simple task management methodology.
I love to keep things straight and simple.
Divide your priorities Day wise, Week wise and Monthly.
Every morning assign yourself tasks, end of the day mark them done.
Compare your weeks tasks for your monthly or quarterly goals. for ex. A line graph
Now you know very well, if you want to achieve success that line should go up!!
Good luck, lemme know if you wan to define your line chart !!
I am a great believer in lists. When you have strategic goals, you can break them down into "To Do" items to support the goals and follow through with decisions as well. Typically, every day start with a list; cross off finished items; and re-write the list at the end of the day for tomorrow. If you do not just include daily tasks (and you can leave out routine tasks performed the same at the same time every day), you can track your progress by checking on your list (Did it get longer? Have you crossed more off? Is it too short?, etc.).
Easy: place priority on IPAs: income producing activities, and turn off the email for large blocks of time. This is working brilliantly for me.
Set a specific time aside (best in the morning) where you go in a room where you cannot be reached. I usually do this early in the morning before the hectic day starts.
Kate, you're in a long line of business professionals that struggle with this. Here's what I do and what I guide my clients towards.
Setting priority is a function of what is most important, not what is most urgent or what is most familiar. In order to establish importance, the task or goal needs to be connected to a larger strategy or end game. If you recognize that your most important resource is your time, spending your time on your most important tasks is the best way to accomplish what is most important to you. You will be better able to decide what to focus on and what to leave or let go.
Try this. List all of your tasks on paper. If you use a word doc, it's easier to move things around. Ask yourself these questions. 1). What should I not be doing? Cross them off. 2). What can I delegate or hand off? Move them aside.
Now you are left with everything that you should be doing. Begin at the top and as you go down the list, ask yourself if the item you are looking at is more important than the one above it. If so, move it up, if not move it down. When you finish, address the top 5 first.
Tip- if you run your own business, what you spend your time on should be connected in some way to generating revenue first. Also, learn to say 'no' more often. Filling your list with things important to everyone else will drain you of your time, energy and desire to accomplish what is most important to you.
You have run into an issue that is typical to business owners. You answered part of the question. To begin with, all goals short-term and long-term need to be written down. Once they are on paper, they become a reality. There is no looking back. Keep it where you can stare at them. How do you prioritize tasks? Do you do them as they come or are the important ones tackled first? How do you separate the high-value and low-value tasks?
A business coach can help with effective time management. There are a lot of unanswered questions in your question. For instance, do you have the resources to delegate? Your job should be to be an entrepreneur, creating strategic plans/goals for the growth of your firm.
Ummmm, what are you talking about regarding your day to day? I sit down on Sunday or Monday morning and map out for the week - each day what I have to get done - that is the #1 - everything else - it happens after I have finished with the items on the list that have to - like this:
* I list the client name and write - work on website (this is an example) if it is written down - I know that it is a priority
* I also use Sticky notes - on my mac and I keep track of what has to be done - clients come first - I come last - so my next few entries will be "quickbooks doug" "quickbooks visione investments - "quickbooks - visione enterprises" etc.
* I do add my email - to review something later
All the rest of the tasks are lower on the totem pole - I also work from home the majority of the time - so I have a schedule - when I get up in the morning I make the beds, throw a load of laundry in, feed the dog and the cats and pick up - and I walk each morning -
I have a routine and it works for me - all I can say is that not all of your daily tasks have to get done that day -
Broadly speaking , not being aware of your product neither your industry, the problem you have mentioned is not actually a problem with your business , it is actually the state you feel you are in.
The problem of the business can only be identified by the KPI's of the business for eg either there is a decreasing sales trend, high employee turnover or loss of customers etc.
However, having said all that , the state you are in may not be a problem at this time but it can cause a major setback to the business in the short or long term future if not addressed properly. Or may be it is harming some aspect of the business at this point in time but cannot be identified in this state.
My suggestion in this case is that you immediately need to resolve your state by a small brainstorming exercise either alone or with your immediate teammates. It can take few hours or may be few days but your objective should be to come out with a document in your hand which clearly defines where you were or where you started , where you are at the moment and where you want to be after a few years.
The idea behind getting to know where you were and what milestones you have achieved is to make you comfortable and confident that you have achieved something over a period of time and this is how you will feel motivated to move further forward to plan for your future.
In other words we also call it the Strategic Plan .Once you have all these parameters with you and the exact timeline in which these objectives have to be achieved you will feel yourself to be in a much better position to prioritize yourself.
This document should also address the human resource enhancement plan which will give you a relief over a period of time from some important objectives of the business like marketing , advertising or even human resource management,or may be finance or sales management. This will all depend on your resource mobilization strategy over a period of time .
This is a long discussion but i would strongly suggest to sit and do a AS IS and TO BE exercise in detail so that you are focused on the actual priorities.Those priorities which are healthy for the FUTURE of the business .
In majority of the businesses you will be surprised to know that people do not find themselves wrong in working on the priorities but most of them find themselves wrong in identifying the right priorities at the right time.
Businesses exhaust themselves by investing resources into wrong priorities not by overworking or under working on the identified priorities.
Closing here because this will take days and days of discussion.The best would be for you to take action immediately and then we can discuss it in future on some developments or outcomes on Mosaic Hub.
First of all, pat yourself on the back for even making a to do list. What you do is stick to your list. Even if you have to title it duties, and add on to the list on a day to day basis. Go back everyday and check what you have completed, what you have updated etc. Relax, Rome was not built in a day. Be patient. You will get there.
I've found this to be such a common problem that I decided to work on a method to tackle it. The idea is to help solos and small business owners manage their time, so they can get more marketing done. It's stealth right now, but you can be one of the first to know about it: http://www.blockbeta.com/plow-landing.html
Two points I try to live by:
1 - do the most important thing first - this is the thing that will impact you the most if you get it done.
2 - ruthless priorities - don't just say busy, work on what matters. If there is no value in the task, drop it to the bottom of the list. Be ruthless about where you spend your time.
Richard Stern- Using the subject and critical response time are good indicators on prioritizing the response time.
Using this method also helps in reducing stress thus ensuring the construction and implementing better decisions
Firstly you have the issue of time constraints: you need a diary.
Not some soppy piece of software: a hard copy A4 Diary Look at at in the evening before you go home, and in the morning when you first sit down - before you go and get your coffee!
Just because a project does not have to be completed until six months down the line, means that you have to diarise that in stages to make sure that it is indeed completed to diary. Look at due dates and time constraints, particularly if this means engaging third party contractors, as your diary is going to have to meet with their time restrictions too.
In your diary highlight with a yellow highlighter those which are projects and make sure that they are up to date; that way they will not get left behind and you can deal with minore issues the following day.
In my case this is particularly true when dealing with litigation and complex disputes where hearing dates and filing dates have to be complied with. The other items can take second place. Howewver it is true in my game that you need to keep an eye on the smaller (apparently) less important matters as they can soon become major ones ! Many a write off is small to medium value purely because it has been by- passed by what were deemed be more serious matters. Ironically these smaller issues in turn become big as they get old, people move on and in the end the debt becomes a write off.
I often find when I am in my consultancy role that the aged debt forms a U shape with the easy stuff being dealt with meaning you have a low 31 -90 days over due; but then find you have a massive 90+ coloumn, some of which are long term cases, for example projects or matters in litigation; however it needs examing because some of the cases may be low or medium value and could easily cleared up with a small credit note to keep the client happy and the debt (assuming the debtor pays) the matter fall out of the profile.
Keeping graphs, tables and in particular a diary is very important in priortising work. Try it out in various forms; and spreadsheets are good for showing financial profiles as well as the progression of a project.
I hope this gives you some ideas.
Chris R London
In our TIme Management program I have a saying. Your first priority is managing your time. Your second priority is making sure your time is managing your priorities. Ah, but how do you get them. You start with a mission, really what is your purpose? Answer it as fully in life and business as you can but keep to the point. Then, set your priorities to accomplish what is most important first, or make a plan on how to divide them according to fulfilling your purpose, mission, vision...Put the things on your "Must Do" list onto your schedule and divide your To Do list into "Must Do," "Could Do," and "Should Do" and there's a good chance you will take control of your priorities and get done what you must.
I think many of us have the same problem. I often start a day with the best of intentions but find the daily distractions can keep me from accomplishing the things I need to do. Here is the best ways I have found to minimize the problem.
Have a master to do list and a separate to do list for each day. Write out that daily to do list in hand at the start of each day while your mind is fresh. As you complete the items cross them off the list. Seeing the list shrink helps motivate me to complete more items.
Block out a separate day for your strategic goals. Preferably a day when you do not put anything else on your to do list. Everything else can wait but break those strategic goals into segments so you can cross off each item in the segment as you complete it. For me it works best to come into the office on a weekend where the phone doesn't ring, no one is around to disrupt my work and I can just concentrate on one thing.
Find some quiet time. The idea is that you can just think and formulate solutions to your goals. For me I have some long drives. Next week I will be driving 2200 miles from Pittsburgh to Phoenix and back 5 days later. Past history will tell me that I will have some really terrific ideas about improving my business because I will have a lot of time to just think. Your quiet time can be early in the day or late or weekends but having some time with few distractions to let your mind run free can be a great thing.
A number of questions:
1. How do you articulate your strategic goals and turn them into the business process you need to achieve your goals, with priorities identified in the first place?
2. Do you measure your progress/results?
3. Do you review your results on a monthly basis in a consistent and systematic way?
4. If you are not meeting your monthly targets in order to meet your overall strategic goals, how do you identify what action to take?
Strategic goals don't often happen or are rarely set in between a power lunch and a flight to Tokyo, even if it's 12 hours on the plane. They seem to happen on relaxation or R&R timeslots which can be as near to you as a friendly bar or a husband-wife conversation in bed.
There are many reasons and suggestions but before you can use some of them you need to have a clear mind. It is not about how fast you finish your works or how much you have done, it is more on "is it the right time to do".
You may say you have too many things need to do within a short time and all these things are suppose to complete "in the right time" within that short period. Than turn inwardly to check on how you perceive life and what is your intention. You will surprise to note that many things are actually need not to rush and what you want to do are not that much after all (ego is normally reason for trying to take too many thing in one go).
If even after you review your perception you still facing too many things to do. You need to re look at the method(s) you adopted to do those things, normally by improving your method(s), your complains will be gone.
Still facing the problem ...look for way to improve your focus ...e.g. account your works to check how many idle times and unnecessary works for the day; pomodoro technique rewind your focus; GTD hold key functions capture , clarify, organize, reflect, engage; Kanban - good method to help you prioritize and have low WIP (work-in-process)