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"Prioritization is first about taking action to make some choices; then making the choice to take some action!" - Bill Truby
How to Prioritize

Bill Truby: "It's Too Late" (1 min. 15 sec.)


Do your priorities get all jumbled up?

How you prioritize your day, week, month...or your life is really YOUR choice!

Prioritization of tasks not only helps you improve your time management and reduce stress, but it will also help you achieve your more important goals. A universally recognized method for maximizing productivity is called 80/20 rule, a common ‘rule of thumb’ also known as the Law of the Vital Few. It has been proven to be highly effective for over 100 years.

The main concept behind this principle is that for many events, approximately 80% of outcomes are produced by 20% of the events. Applied to time management, the goal of using this method is in identifying 20% of most vital activities that are likely to produce 80% of the results, and then prioritize those important activities. You’ll want to concentrate most of your time and effort on completing those activities and, actually, reducing or eliminating the remaining 80%.

Once you have identified you more important activities, spend some time analyzing which ones are aligned with your core values, vision and goals. Think of your long-term career goals, review your company’s mission and priorities and how the two ties. This is a very important step, because it if done appropriately (taking the sufficient amount of time and with self-reflection) it will help you avoid unnecessary frustration and wasted time associated with changing direction and objectives.

Here how this rule may be applied in different situations.

  • In Sales, you may want to spend 80 percent of your time prospecting, as that is the source of your future revenue flow. At the same time, applied to the existing customer base, perhaps 20 percent of those customers are responsible for majority of the revenue.
  • In Management, the most important and impactful tasks are likely related to growing, coaching and motivating your team, ensuring it is working toward achieving the company’s strategic goals. That is where 80 percent of time should be spent.
  • For an individual contributor, the 80/20 rule can be applied based on the company’s objectives. If the most important objective is to quality, perhaps 80 percent of time and effort should be dedicated to achieving that objective. If it’s quantity, perhaps you can concentrate most of your effort on finding ways to increase that metric while maintaining quality.

Your priorities outside of work may be spirituality, family and health. Make sure you keep the right perspective and don’t get caught up in less significant activities and chores.

Apply the 80/20 rules to your current relationships and ensure you preserve and cherish relationships with important people in your life, both family and friends. Make sure you remember to include the important activities in your life that help you improve your physical, emotional and mental health – exercise, yoga, reading, etc.

Daily Prioritization

Apply 80/20 rule to the tasks you need to accomplish on a given day. First, write down everything that needs to be done. Include all activities – your work on different projects, lunch with co-workers, your trip to the company gym, etc. Next, categorize each item based on the impact they will have if they are not accomplished today. Those that will have significant consequence should be marked as 1 (or A), those that will have lesser of a consequence if not done today – 2 (or B), those that can be completed some other day without a consequence – 3. Then among those that are remaining see which you can delegate and the remaining could just be eliminated. Go back to the bucket I and refine it further marking the tasks 1-a, 1-b, 1c, etc. That will give you a good prioritization list of tasks for that day.

Weekly prioritization

Weekly planning sessions could be very effective. Prioritizing on a weekly basis complements daily prioritization and provides additional balance and context around your activities. Businesses operates on weekly cycles, designating certain days (typically Mon-Fri) to business investments and others (weekends) for relaxation, rejuvenation and inspiration. Week is a single, complete unit of time.

Spend an hour a week, ideally on Friday afternoon, on going over what you have accomplished during the week, evaluating your progress toward your goals and planning activities for next week. This exercise will help put you in the right state of mind and reinforce your vision for your success.

Communicate with coworkers effectively

  • Communicate effectively by limiting conversations with co-workers to most essential issues. Verbally communicate your schedule to others so that they will know that you have a limited amount of time available.
  • You can minimize or limit the interruptions by:
    • Screening phone calls and letting your voice mail picking up the calls
    • Not trying to do too many tasks at one time
    • Using email instead of calling when that will prevent you from getting into a lengthy conversation.

Take notes during the meetings or phone calls

Learn to take good notes during your interactions with coworkers, clients or your boss. In business, most people overlook this simple yet critical time-saving skill. You can face significant time loss when you try to recollect the details or having to revisit different situations to refresh your memory. It is common to use a simple composition note book to write down all the important points.