” I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything…at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.” Dan Millman
If you have constructed a goals list and have broken it down into several sub goals it can be intimidating at first. We need to prioritize the list we create to manage time more effectively. Without prioritizing we will remain stuck in an over burdened state where we will not find the time to finish anything efficiently. Prioritizing goals is a critical step and needs to be done carefully to ensure that you concentrate on the activities which have the greatest return for your efforts. By focusing on the “right” things you will move towards your goals at a more effective and faster pace.
The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule is an apt principle to describe the prioritizing process. You need to identify the tasks which you do daily and which result in the greatest output. Concentrating on those top 20% of activities will result in you working at your optimal. In essence the principle is very straightforward and logical one, yet we find ourselves bogged down everyday doing tasks which are not in the top 20%. For example if you are a salesperson with 100 clients on your roster, you should be focusing your efforts on the top 20 clients who are generating 80% of your revenue. This principle forces you to make choices between what is important and critical and what is not. When I look at a task sheet I usually mark it using the 4D formula which is;
- Dump it: Tasks which are not relevant to reaching stipulated goals. For example if I am swamped with work, going to buy myself a new TV isn’t essential at this time and I will cross it out.
- Defer it: Tasks which are important but not urgent are put into this category. For example if I am told that I need to select a new vendor for our air conditioning servicing contract for the next quarter I will file it away for a later date.
- Delegate it: Tasks which are important but for which I may not be the best person need to be delegated. For example, if my company is looking to invest into a new web conferencing solution, I will delegate the research to an assistant so that I can have all the relevant information to make an informed and faster decision.
- Do it now!: Essential tasks which I am the most efficient at doing should be done with the highest priority. For example if I am head of marketing and need to deliver our marketing plan for the next year to the Board I should be focusing my energy to make it the best I can.
By focusing on the important tasks and at which we are the most efficient, we will find ourselves completing and accomplishing more during the course of the day, week, month and year. So if you haven’t prioritized your task and goal list make sure you do it as soon as possible to ensure that your time is allocated to those activities which produce the greatest amount of value.