Monday, February 10, 2014

ABCs of Priority Management

So what are your plans today? For many the answer is “to do everything I didn’t get done yesterday.” All of us have more on our plate than we can accomplish. How do you decide which items to tackle and in what order?

Most of us start by preparing a to-do-list. Some people tackle the easy items first. They get immediate gratification and quickly shorten their list. Unfortunately, the most difficult or time-consuming items are relegated to the bottom of the stack—put off day after day. Others go first for the things they enjoy doing and put off the most unpleasant. The most common approach, however, is to rank the to-do items using the ABC method. The most important items are A’s. B’s comes next, and C’s have the lowest priority.

That approach ignores a number of important management and leadership concepts. For one, not all problems (things) need to be solved (done), and of those that do, not all need to be handled by you. Then there is the Management Candy, M&Ms, concept that emphasizes the importance of focusing on the Main Things success depends on. It is the idea that effectiveness, doing the right things, is far more important than how well or efficiently you do things—especially if they are the wrong things.

After years of on-the- job training, here is my time management secret. I have a big drawer that I call my “C” drawer. I start by ranking items as either A, B, or C. Then I go back through the B’s and decide which, if any, were really A’s. I change the rest to C’s. The C’s go in my C drawer never to come out again unless they reappear down the road as A’s. Three or four times during the year, I will go through the C drawer to clean it out. It is amazing how many of the C items are no longer issues.

The desire for immediate gratification leads many to Major in Minors; whereas, the effective individual concentrates on the Main Things success depends. They have learned the importance of the powerful time management tool of saying no to the unimportant and non-essential. Rather than tackle C’s last, they just say no to them.

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