Have you ever wondered why some people seem to always be on top of the world? They are always smiling, they have time for coffee between board meetings. How do they do it? If we all have the same 24 hours to every day, how is it that some people seem to get everything done with time to spare, while others running about trying unsuccessfully to finish their first task? Well, the answer is actually a lot simpler than you might think. These people can get everything done because they have mastered one of the most important business leadership skills there is: setting priorities.
You’ve heard it time and time again: “No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan.” Well, in order to set priorities correctly you MUST have a plan. What is it that you want to achieve this year, this month, this week, today? You get the idea. Establish a plan for what you want to accomplish. This will give you direction and a specific aim. After all, it’s a lot easier to steer once you know your destination. If you have planned a number of tasks, determine which are most important.
Break down each goal into specific tasks that must be completed in order to achieve that goal. Assign each task a deadline. Make sure that the deadlines are in the right order so that not completing one will not keep you from working on the next one. Write the tasks down in order. Now, the only thing you have left to do is separate those tasks into three sections.
“Must-do”- Must-do items which are things that require your immediate attention. These cannot be postponed or ignored without some major consequences. Make sure these are at the top of your list for the day.
“Should-do”- Should-do items which are things which are important, but which can wait until the “Must-do” list is completed. They can probably even be set aside for the next day without any major repercussions.
”Ask-someone-else-to-do”- Ask-someone-else-to-do list are things you can comfortably delegate to others. Now, keep in mind that delegating a task does not free you of the responsibility. You must still ensure the task gets completed. So, choose carefully what you delegate and to whom. That being said, it is imperative that you learn to delegate. No one can do it all, we all need help occasionally.
After you have established what must be done, remember these keys to productivity. Work on ONE task at a time. Multitasking will only slow you down, contrary to popular belief. Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. You can be busy for an hour and accomplish absolutely nothing. This is why it is so important to keep your focus. Finally, remember to work smarter, not harder.
Setting priorities the right way is definitely one of the most important business leadership skills. It will literally determine how much you accomplish and how far you get. The next step is to get all your staff to work together in setting priorities to achieve the business plan and the day to day objectives to keep your customers happy.
Once you have mastered this skill, you will join the ranks of the super achievers which seem to have all the time in the world, and still get things done!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said- “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.