Prioritizing tasks is a never-ending struggle for most busy executives and professionals. When coaching clients on this issue, I routinely ask them to define for me their most important work objectives. That is, what is the most (and possibly second most) important objective you have in your work? Is it revenue production, maximizing process flows, client acquisition, etc.? Once you’ve defined your primary reason for being at work, you can begin to set your priorities accordingly.
For example, I was recently working with the president of a marketing company. He told me that his number one objective was to drive revenue production for the company. Thus, when we started talking about the things on his task list, he had a highly effective filter through which to pass everything before getting started with his day. Specifically, he began asking of each task, “How does this drive revenue for my company?” Things that had a clear answer went into one bucket. Things without a clear answer went into another bucket.
With his workflow parsed in this manner, he could prioritize those things that drove revenue based on many different factors – length to completion, amount of revenue likely to be generated, amount of resources needed to complete, deadlines, etc. The point was he now had a way to focus on the most important items without getting distracted from his primary objective.
It’s easy to get lost in the multitude of tasks that cascade down on us each day. Using a high-level filter – your primary professional objective(s) – gives you a terrific way to identify those things that are truly significant from those things that are “wish list” items.