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Time Management Lessons from Raising Twin Boys

At the dinner table, my wife and I were talking about the piece she just published in her blog, The Red Sticks. She spoke about how she manages her time while raising our twin boys. You can read her whole post here — Dividing Time.

In summary, she mentions five important things to remember:

1. It is okay not to be able to do everything.
2. Prioritize.
3. Don’t forget me time.
4. Use your kid’s downtime to your advantage.
5. Enjoy your kids.

Although the post was written with parents — particularly Moms — in mind, these lessons can be applied to one’s personal and professional life. No wonder she is doing a great job with the boys and on top of this, she is still able to do her personal stuff (like writing).

We discussed how her tips in managing her time at home can apply in business and this is what we came up with:

  • It’s okay not to be able to do everything. This is true in business as well. You can’t possibly do everything. If you insist on trying, then most likely you will just get frustrated and miss more important tasks and goals.
  • Prioritize. This is about making the best use of your limited time and resources when demands are seemingly limitless. Your day only has a limited number of hours. This is the same for your week, your month, your year, etc. There is a maximum number of things that you can possibly do (with good quality) in a period of time— therefore, you need to prioritize.
  • Don’t forget me time. “Me time” at work is the time you dedicate to developing yourself. Identify areas of improvement in your skills and capabilities. Talk to your boss and your peers to get feedback and continue to improve yourself. Part of accountability is continuous self-improvement.  Not only do you look at what you’re already good at but also what else you can improve on.
  • Use your downtime to your advantage. Obviously, there are times at work when things are toxic — everything needs to be done right away and deadlines overlap. However, there are also down times. There are two ways you can make use of your office down times. First, you can schedule your vacation at this time and make sure you maximize the number of days you go on leave. The other way is is through extracurricular activities in  at work such as organizing a community outreach and writing in the newsletter.  If there are opportunities for you to use or exhibit your talents, then volunteer.
  • Enjoy your work. Look forward to it everyday and think of having fun. Try not to see work as work but as an opportunity to learn something or mentor someone. You will see how it will impact your productivity!

So who says managers can’t learn from Moms? This post is a perfect example.  After all, our Moms are probably our first “managers”.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles.

What Prioritization and Planning Can Do for You

Prioritization and planning are two sides of the same coin. Planning is thinking about the tasks required to achieve the desired goal on some scale . Prioritization is ensuring you are doing the right tasks. Planning and prioritization are two of the best skills a manager can have. They ensure good use of your own efforts and those of your team. 

Prioritization is making the best use of your limited time and resources when demands are seemingly limitless. Every single day a manager is bombarded with demands with “ASAP” written all over it. Unending meeting requests, continuous daily reports, pressing operative issues and urgent project tasks — you name it—the list goes on and on and on! If you get into that vicious cycle of trying to do everything, you’ll end up burned out, frustrated and unhappy.   

Prioritization in principle means doing “first things first;” as a process it means evaluating a group of items and ranking them in order of importance and urgency.    – Business Dictionary

Your day only has a limited number of hours, this is the same for your week, your month, your year etc. There is a maximum number of things that you can possibly do (with good quality) in a period of time— therefore you need to prioritize.

If everything is important then nothing is important. If you qualify the “not-so-important-tasks” as very important it devalues any other “more-important-tasks”. 

Start your day by devoting a fair amount of your creative energy to planing your day. This will jump start your day on the right track. You will know your action items (things that matter) and backburners (tasks that can wait).

Perhaps a year is a much longer period but even though, there is a maximum number of things you can do in a year—therefore, you still need to prioritize. Annual planning sessions are important endeavors for companies wanting to set priorities right for the year and align objectives with strategic goals. Nothing beats starting the year in the right direction; you have a game plan and you understand what needs to be done to accomplish your goals.

By planning ahead you are in the best position to adjust priorities. Proper planning is building enough room into your plans for additional demands. New demands pop-up and they may also be important. Adjusting priorities is commonplace; you should always assume that there will be unexpected requests. Set aside time for them. As long as they are important tasks that bring you closer to you goal, they must be done!

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

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