How to manage Priorities and own your Progress

I had my apprehensions before publishing a post on something so simple and banal like “Priority Management”. But often the simplest of things are overlooked and considered insignificant. People often miss appointments, often miss deadline, sometimes end up doing other people’s work and often forget things. Even though bad memory is one of the keys to happiness, the blast from the past of recollecting forgotten things is often unpleasant. The more time you take to remember things, the harder you snap back on recollect. The elasticity of memory can be quite cruel at times.

Anyhow, I am not an expert, but having reached the middle of that phrase “I came. I saw. I conquered”; I thought I should share my views on priorities to help out those who have just arrived. So I decided to put down my thoughts, whatever I have learned in my professional capacity, in a structured manner so that it is easy to follow.

“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”― William Penn

Time management is a fad. I personally love the concept. But in reality, Time management in work is often like India playing in the Football world cup. We all dream about it, like the idea but we all know that is not going to happen in the near future. Especially in today’s uncertain & unpredictable environment.

So I had moved over to Priority management a long time ago. Subconsciously we all do priority management, most of the times it is inefficient and ineffective. This framework is to make it necessary and possible.

MANAGING YOUR PRIORITIES

  1. Acknowledge- Priority Management starts with acknowledging that your work is important. If you don’t think your work adds value to your firm, you don’t need to worry about priority Management. You may have to worry about a better job though, unless your drive for purpose comes from somewhere else.
  2. Accept- Accepting that you are not a Superhuman is the 2nd step. Superhumans are rare. The only superpower that your brain have is to wander around from one topic to another in a flash. It will slip that one little innocent thing you thought you’ll never forget. Accept this limitation and stop relying on your memory for things of priorities.
  3. Introspect- Define what you want and your priorities. Be it personal growth, professional growth or work life balance. It can very well be a combination of these or nothing at all. But defining these changes your perspective. Once you are cognizant of your desires, your will takes a different shape. It also allows you to focus on the big picture. Small changes in habits makes a big difference if the vision is right.
  4. First Step- Start making notes. To capture everything and get it done on time, make copious notes. Use Evernote or a similar software. The more notes you have, the more useful these things become. You can tag notes, index them as well as sift through them at your convenience. Next time walk into that meeting room with your laptop.
  5. Execution- Here comes the tedious task — make a weekly to do list. Make this list on your laptop for a good work life balance. Make it on an excel and make sure this is the first thing you see every day after opening the laptop. List all your pending tasks, routine tasks, upcoming tasks. Dissect the project goals and break it down. Once you are done with the list, Assign priorities to all the tasks (for ex — P1, P2 & P3) and tackle them in decreasing priority as you move from Monday to Friday. Don’t schedule time, only schedule tasks. Do the necessary delegation and set boundaries for getting back to the stakeholders in the list. Finally, keep updating it as you face new challenges.
  6. The Infamous 5 minute rule- If it can be done in 5 minutes and it is important, do it then and there.
  7. Managing time- Don’t decide the time at which you are going to do a certain task. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that you have, effectively. Identify the ways you waste time. Remain flexible, you are not supposed to do everything on that list in a single day. But for necessary evils like meetings & interviews, Use Google calender and put a time to it.
  8. Focus- Multitasking is a fad. Focus is essential especially if your work is of importance and value. Stay away from the web browser and your smartphone while working. Close your inbox and open it once in 1 hr. Stop using it as a surrogate to-do list.
  9. Saying No- Whenever you are preoccupied, learn to Say No. Use your wit. Remember this line by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, “No doesn't need any explanation or interpretation, no simply means no”.

“In all things a calm heart must prevail” — Fallout 3

Managing Priorities should give you confidence and not stress. Be the guy who calmly sift through his notes. Be the guy who is aware of how many priorities he has to manage on a given day and how much he can expand for any new priorities coming in.

If the drive comes from a settled mind, You’ll be able to own your progress and focus on the right things at the right time in the right way. Once it become a habit, You’ll be more effective in dealing with uncertainties. Hopefully, all this will help you in reaching the depth of your potential.