Organising your tasks is one of the most impactful ways to improve your personal effectiveness. Doing this can be a straight-forward process, but not so much when the pressure is on or the task list is more than you can handle! The ‘new normal’ has added even more stress to the situation! Fortunately, there are some simple techniques to help you overcome the inevitable paralysis.
Step 1: Start with Strategy
All your tasks should have some alignment to the strategy of the company, division or team. Create a list of all your tasks so you can understand the full picture and, against each task, identify the primary driver for the task (e.g. legislative, cost saving, etc.).
Next, quantify the strategic value for each task. This sounds more difficult than it is; start by looking at the short and long-term impact of what’s being asked for. To complete this step note down the desired outcome for each task and the major risks to successful delivery.
Step 2: Important vs Urgent
When everything is ‘top priority’ you need identify what to really do, what to plan, what to delegate and what to leave! The Eisenhower Matrix (‘importance’ on one axis and ‘urgency’ on the other) is an efficient method for completing this step. For each task on your list, identify the ‘urgency’ and ‘importance’. Now act on the ‘DO FIRST’ (important and urgent) category.
Step 3: Review and Re-evaluate
Nothing ever stays the same in business, nor should your priorities! You should regularly review your task list, because even if your circumstances haven’t changed, someone else’s might have. Finally, consider that the relative priority of your tasks could change over time. Never assume that everything stays the same, week-in, week-out.
You can find more detail for each step and an illustration of the Eisenhower Matrix in the Parker Veese Library.
Or if you’d like to talk to one of our consultants about improving your effectiveness at work, we’d be happy to spare 30-minutes to help.