How To Prioritize
We have to sleep, we have to eat and we are not all multi-millionaires. So, when it comes to successfully managing tasks and projects we have to be able to prioritise them. I.e. Deciding what we do and what order to do it.
With simple or repetitive tasks most of us learn from experience how to prioritize in our head.
There can come a point where the number of factors we have to juggle can become difficult to reliably mentally process.
Additionally, our own desires and prejudices are likely to influence our choices and sometimes in a negative way. Doing the things we like to do before those that should be done.
We may need some help or a tool to ensure we decide the best course of action.
One of the simplest tools is the Eisenhower Matrix, which was developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Who, as well as being regarded as one of the most successful of US presidents, was a five-star general and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe in WW II.
With the Eisenhower Matrix you have just 4 options
|Not Important||Delegate It
Waste of Time
Some may say it's "just common sense"
However, in reality, the distinction between urgent and non-urgent, important and not important will depend on the individual person and circumstances.
Steven Covey, an American educator and author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.", came up with the following:
- "Urgent matters are those that require immediate action. These are the visible issues that pop up and demand your attention NOW. Often, urgent matters come with clear consequences for not completing these tasks. Urgent tasks are unavoidable, but spending too much time putting out fires can produce a great deal of stress and could result in burnout."
- "Important matters, on the other hand, are those that contribute to long-term goals and life values. These items require planning and thoughtful action. When you focus on important matters you manage your time, energy, and attention rather than mindlessly expending these resources. What is important is subjective and depends on your own values and personal goals. No one else can
define what is important for you."
Here is a more detailed matrix
Those with clear deadlines and consequences for not taking immediate action.
Activities without an immediate deadline that bring you closer to your goals.
|Not Important||Delegate It
Things that need to be done but don't require your specific skills.
Distractions and avoidable activities that are not relevant to your goals.
You do not need a computer program to use the Eisenhower Matrix, a piece of blank paper is quite sufficient.
The Eisenhower Matrix is good but you might easily end up with several tasks or projects in the same "box". In this situation, you will need to identify the common criteria that, when assessed, will enable you to prioritize.
This is where the PWPrioritizer tool may be able to help you.
PWPrioritizer™ - Performwork's Project Prioritization Tool