Identifying the relative importance of each item in a list of things to get done and planning to do the most important things first.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:33
Spends one’s own time and the time of others on what is most important
Quickly identifies and schedules in the most important tasks and puts the less important tasks aside for later
Can quickly sense what will help or hinder accomplishing a goal
Eliminates roadblocks and barriers in the way to accomplishing tasks
Compares the relative importance of tasks and focuses one’s time and attention on the most important ones
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
– David Allen
Has little sense of what’s mission-critical and what’s just nice to do
May believe that everything’s equally important; may overwhelm others with unfocused activities
May be addicted to action; does a little bit of everything, and quickly
May be a poor time manager – has difficult keeping track of time, how long something might take to finish, and how much more time is available to complete it
May not say ‘no’ to work or requests from others; wants to do everything
Not good at figuring out how to eliminate roadblocks or what is more important or critical than other things
“It’s not that you don’t have enough time. It’s that you don’t have priorities.”
“People don’t change. Their priorities do.”
Causes of Weakness
Action junkie; loves being busy and working on a wide variety of things all at the same time
Difficulty saying ‘no’ to people or new tasks
Overestimates one’s own skills, intelligence and capacity to get things done
Has a high need to do everything correctly, without any mistakes
Short attention span; wants to do a little bit of everything and jumps from task to task without completing them
Poor time management; too busy or too unorganized to set priorities
Fear or doubt of being able to correctly prioritize and choose the right tasks to focus on
“Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.”
– Peter Turla
Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.
BE CLEAR: Be clear about your goals and objectives. What exactly is it you need to accomplish? Use your annual plan and/or strategic plan to understand the mission-critical things that must happen.
SEPARATE: Separate what you need to do into the categories of mission-critical, important to get done, nice if there is time left over, and not central to what we are trying to achieve. When faced with choices or multiple things to do, apply the scale and always choose the most important things.
FOCUS: Effective leaders spend about half their time working on one or two key priorities. Rather than consuming yourself and others on many, many seemingly urgent and related smaller activities, focus on the few issues that will give you the most long-term results.
GET INPUT: When faced with multiple good things to do, pass them by a few trusted others around you for their opinion. You don’t have to do what they say, but having other perspectives is always better than having only your opinion.
NO LIKE: Be careful not to be guided by just what you like and what you don’t like. That way of selecting priorities will probably not be successful over time. Use data, other’s input, intuition and even feelings, but not feelings alone.
STUCK? Write down the pros and cons for each task or challenge you are faced with. Consider what effect each would have both on the short and long term if you don’t resolve it. Are there cost differences? Is one task likely to be more successful or significant than the other? Think about the interaction of both short- and long-term goals. Sometimes what you decide to do today will hurt you or the organization later.
TAKE TIME: Taking time to plan and set priorities actually frees up more time later than just diving into things hoping that you can get it done on time. Many people claim to not have enough time to plan their time. That is generally untrue. Usually planning your work in advance helps you to complete things more quickly and with less stress.