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Manage Your Priorities to Be More Effective

[This post is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

The highest priority when discussing Priorities is recognizing that there’s not much to say about prioritizing. But what there is to say is important.

Inevitably, as you execute your business plan, you will find yourself overcommitted. Unexpected crises will demand attention. What looked simple will turn complicated. You will unexpectedly discover that your perfect money machine has too many moving parts, and you can’t keep them all oiled. You, the master juggler, will suddenly find there are too many balls in the air.

How to get back in control? If you can’t grow more hands, which balls should be dropped?

You don’t want to wait to decide until it happens, because you will be stressing then and less capable of thinking clearly. Right now, ask yourself, “If I could only work on a few things, which would they be? What is most mission-critical?”

Conversely, if you suddenly have extra capacity, which opportunities would you add to the plan first?

As the leader, your highest personal priorities should be the ones with the most leverage – the ones that have a high ratio of impact to effort.

  • High leverage: Impact > effort
  • Low leverage: Impact < effort

Drop or delegate the low leverage activities. You’re important. Act that way. Be honest with yourself about your motives. For example, if you are making the coffee at the office to model for your employees the kind of behavior you value, it’s a high leverage activity. If you’re doing it because you don’t want to bother anyone else, don’t you have something more important to do?

Make a list of activities that might contribute to achieving your goals. Rank the items for importance. Be willing to cut loose the bottom-dwellers. When you have new capacity, be quick to add activities that didn’t make the initial cut, or find even more powerful ones.

Live by your list. Review it often.

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4 Responses to “Manage Your Priorities to Be More Effective”

  1. Bing Chou says:

    I love the coffee making example that you’ve described here Mark – it takes the gray area out of a task that many businesspeople take on. It’s either high leverage or it’s not.

    We’re making some changes at eTutor to increase the leverage of our activities – we’ll be referring to your suggestions here often. Thanks.

  2. mpfriedman says:

    Bing – great to hear from you! Let me know how your efforts to increase leverage work out. As always, I appreciate your comments.

  3. Great article to start re-immersing myself in the world between Omnifocus and Total Relax Organization (TRO). I second Mr. Bing Chou; I too loved the coffee making example, especially because it highlights the importance of motivation in a person’s process of task prioritization. Thank you for sharing these valuable insights!

    • mpfriedman says:

      Ricardo – thanks for the comment! I really like the way you phrase that: “the importance of motivation in a person’s process of task prioritization.” I’d like to learn more about your re-immersion.

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