Tuesday 29 October, 2013
Everybody’s busy and it’s important to set priorities if you’re going to get anything done. This is especially true if you’re a solo entrepreneur or small business owner. But it’s just as important if you’re an office worker juggling multiple tasks or a stay-at-home parent with kids to watch and laundry to do.
There are three ways to set priorities effectively – categorizing, ranking and rating.
Categorizing Your Priorities
Categorizing is the simplest method. Create just a handful of categories depending on the urgency of the task. These categories could be:
* Must do today or there are negative consequences
* Should get done today (no negative consequences)
* Do if you have time
* Doesn’t particularly need to be done today
Create whatever categories make sense to you and then plug each item from your to-do list into them. You can then take the handful of tasks within each category and prioritize them individually. Start with the first and work your way down.
Ranking means making a list of things to do from the most important to the least important. This is probably the priority setting method most of us are familiar with.
Take your list and ask yourself, ‘If I only get one thing done today, what should it be?’ Of course you’re going to do more than one thing (I hope!), but this helps you clarify which is the most important.
Put this list item at the top of a new list. Go back to the old list (where you’ve crossed off this item) and ask yourself again. Repeat the process over and over until all of your list items have been moved from the old to the new.
Rating is similar to making categories but a bit more complicated. Instead of a small handful of categories, you’re making a scale. It can be a scale from 1-10 or whatever number is manageable for you. You then place your to-do items on this scale.
For each position on the scale, define clearly what it represents. For example, the 10 position might be for things that absolutely must get done today or you shouldn’t go to sleep. 7 might be something like things that should be done today but there are no negative consequences. The lower numbers are things that aren’t such a big deal.
Eliminate, Automate and Designate
Whenever setting priorities always look at the items that end up at the bottom of your list and try to think of ways to get rid of them by eliminating, automating or delegating. Some items can be removed without any problems. Some tasks can be automated by using online tools. You may find that some items can be outsourced to someone else. Getting rid of these extras makes setting priorities much more manageable.