Juggling Priorities

We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed. The inbox is flooded with unread messages, the calendar is full, and the to-do list looks unmanageable. It is important to gain the ability to manage your time between short-, medium-, and long-term tasks and projects. By exploring how to spend time on the right things we begin to see the importance of setting a personal agenda to get your focus back on track.

This post will introduce two tools for developing time and project management skills that have proved very effective in my work with clients. The first is the Third Habit outlined in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which details the importance of prioritising tasks.

Managing priorities

In Habit 3, Covey encourages leaders to ‘Put First Things First’. Here he refers to the Four Quadrants of Time Management, by which all tasks are classified in terms of both urgency and importance. Tasks in Quadrant I might entail important deadlines and crises, those in Quadrant II tasks contributing to long-term development. Quadrant III refers to small and potentially distracting deadlines, whilst Quadrant IV’s distractions are frivolous and often pertain to procrastination.

The process of working with these quadrants entails first identifying the levels of urgency and importance in certain tasks, and in this way becoming more reflective on your working patterns. Covey advises us to spend more time in Quadrant II, with tasks and projects that are important but not urgent. These tasks are about planning, prevention, and improvement. By focusing attention on them we begin to prevent crisis situations from unfolding and maintain a healthy balance between productive work and understanding our limits.

To do this, Covey argues, we must reassess the time we spend on Quadrants III and IV, which should respectively be delegated to others and eliminated entirely.

Visualising the plan

To assess how much time, we spend in each Quadrant, however, we must first identify the levels of importance and urgency in our routine tasks/medium term projects/long-term goals. Here I introduce a second tool which comes from the fifth chapter of my book, The Evergreen Executive.

As an idea generating tool for you to design and generate your own Plan On A Page take a look at this downloadable template https://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com/downloads/Strategic_Plan_On_A_Page.pdf

By creating a plan on the page, it becomes easier to see what your priorities are and where your time should be spent. It can also be used to communicate and assign ownership to other members of your team

Taking charge

We all work collaboratively in many ways, and it is important to recognise the impact that relational work has on our time management. Leaders often feel themselves getting pulled in different directions by many people. They are often juggling multiple projects and are relied on heavily by different teams. By refocusing attention towards your individual agenda, it becomes easier to identify important tasks and prioritise these. Time management works hand in hand with personal management, and by regaining agency you can achieve efficiency in your work practice.

Reflection and Refine

goabeachsunset

So it has been a while since the last blog post and for a few reasons.

As many people do at the turn of the year I use it as a chance to take stock and review how the last year went and what the plans for the new year are. This year I decided to extend this period of reflection a bit longer so that I could take advantage of a planned trip to Northern Goa in India that I had had scheduled for a while. For me to take two whole weeks out of my schedule is unusual as I normally have a lot of shorter breaks throughout the year.

There was a specific reason for this trip and if you are interested in learning more take a listen to the podcast episode at Itunes link to podcast  

So against my default programming I didn’t set any new year resolutions with the intention of using the space and downtime while away to decide what the focus of 2019 was going to be both professionally and personally.  I think the trip to India was quite a landmark event as it had been a personal goal for nearly 5 years and the fact that it was actually going to happen was meaningful in itself. My normal  reaction is “so what next” and I know I made the mistake once before in 2006 after completing the Ironman in that I immediately entered another one which in the end I had to pull out of due to injury – the real truth is it wasn’t meant to be I was just meant to do one event like that and originally that had been my intention I just got carried away with post race euphoria and the rest of my team mates rushing to fill in entry forms for the next event.

The two weeks away were soon over and still no obvious new goals were emerging just a few subtle tweaks to what I am already doing and the slow realisation that maybe that was all I needed to do just a bit of refining and refocusing. I fundamentally have the right things in place so there isn’t a need for major changes. There isn’t a obvious new big scary goal or shift I want to make at this time and that is ok what I have is a few areas of focus professionally and personally for the rest of the year , things that I am already doing but just take them to the next level starting with a slight tweak to the podcast in renaming it The Career Tree to expand the exploration of industries/jobs/ways of working to show what choices we all do have in the world of work. So watch this space as we refine what we do as we approach our twentieth year in business as Kudos. Now that is scary where has all that time has gone?