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20 Jun

Make it clear what matters most

Datum: 2017-06-20 19:46

If you often have more to do than there is time for, you are let­ting too many tasks be impor­tant at once. Most of the tasks you have to do are prob­a­bly urgent, and when you do them you are to some greater or less­er extent per­ceiv­ing them to be impor­tant too — or at least worth spend­ing your time on.

But if you have to choose between so many impor­tant tasks in your dai­ly pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, then do you real­ly have the right cri­te­ria for deter­min­ing what is impor­tant and what it not?

Per­haps now is a good time to have a clos­er look at why you let some­thing be impor­tant, just to make sure that you have con­scious­ly set the bar for what mat­ters and what doesn’t, and are com­fort­able with where that bar is at.

If we are any­thing alike, you also want a rea­son­able work­load so that you have time for both the tasks you need to focus on most, as well as reflec­tion, recre­ation and rest. If that is to be the case, then you can­not have too many tasks tagged as impor­tant simul­ta­ne­ous­ly or all the time.

Do this
If you want to clear things up with your­self and take an active step towards pri­or­i­tiz­ing more con­scious­ly, then do this: 

  1. List as many rea­sons as you can think of why a task you have to do would be regard­ed as impor­tant. You can for instance write:
    • An email is impor­tant if it is from NN.”

  2. Now add a because”-clause at the end of each rea­son in order to make it crys­tal clear why you believe this is a good rea­son to pri­or­i­tize by. You could write:
    • An email is impor­tant if it is from NN, because NN rep­re­sents a poten­tial part­ner and I am respon­si­ble for estab­lish­ing five new part­ner­ships through­out the year.”

  3. You might feel as if you are stat­ing the obvi­ous, but if it turns out that it is the least bit dif­fi­cult to moti­vate why a task is deemed impor­tant, it would, in light of your busy sched­ule, be good cause to think things over again.

  4. Have anoth­er look at the list and ask yourself:
    • Are the goals you are respon­si­ble for rep­re­sent­ed on the list? If not, add these as rea­sons. You need to have them on the list because if the tasks do not con­tribute to attain­ing the goals you have set for your­self, how could you deter­mine if some­thing is impor­tant or not?

    • Are there rea­sons on the list that you can­not tie to a cur­rent goal? If so, per­haps you would be right to define a goal that includes these some­how. How else are you sup­posed to know if you have suc­ceed­ed — and if it real­ly is important?

    • Have you writ­ten down any rea­sons that appear weight­ed, mean­ing, that are more impor­tant than oth­er rea­sons? When you have two tasks that are equal­ly impor­tant, do the task that has one of these rea­sons attached to it first.

    • Is this a rea­son­able amount of rea­sons? If you have more on your plate than you are com­fort­able han­dling, what needs to go? Which of these should no longer be regard­ed as impor­tant (no mat­ter how urgent it is)? Remove a rea­son to ease your bur­den. Or, if this deci­sion is not yours to make, ask your boss to sit down and dis­cuss if this rea­son should con­tin­ue being some­thing you pri­or­i­tize by or not.

You make the call
If you exam­ine your motives and make it clear to your­self what you are per­ceiv­ing as impor­tant, and why, you will be able to take con­crete and tan­gi­ble steps to improv­ing your sit­u­a­tion at work. The under­ly­ing caus­es of the it’s just too much right now”-state will be brought for­ward into the light, and you will enable your­self to pri­or­i­tize con­scious­ly. Instead of being over­whelmed, you will be in much greater con­trol of your work and time.

What is your way?
Do you have oth­er ideas on how we can opt out” of doing cer­tain things when there is just too much to do? Any ideas are wel­come, just leave a com­ment and share your thoughts.