Managing priorities begins with a clear understanding of your responsibilities. Whether you are the owner of the company or a maintenance person, in order to be effective you must know which activities produce the best results which requires you to get out of the weeds.
Managing your priorities starts with a vision of what you want to see happen at a specific time in the future, so do you want:
- To retire in five years?
- Your children to take over the business?
- To grow the business or shrink it?
Address the gaps.
Consider what are the gaps between today’s reality and your vision, then set specific goals to bridge those differences and determine what you have to do to achieve them. Are there day-to-day activities that you can stop doing in order to free time for those that are more important?
Carve out time to think.
You need time to reflect, analyze, imagine different paths, problem-solve, and make decisions. Growing up, the message, “Don’t just sit there, do something” was drilled into me. It became difficult to appreciate the productive value of thinking until I changed the message to, “Don’t just do something, sit there!” Generating imaginative solutions, connecting the normally unconnected dots, developing goals and plans are high-payoff actions required at the senior level. Time to think will pay you thousands of dollars per hour invested.
Get out of the weeds!
We often get sucked into the weeds, so try this quick exercise to clarify your priorities.
- List the six most important activities that you do on a regular basis which might include items like:
- Planning, thinking, problem-solving
- Coaching and delegating to your direct reports
- Business analysis
- Building and maintaining relationships with high-level customer and supplier contacts
- Management by walking around (MBWA)
- Meeting with advisors
- Reading business books
- Number the items on your list in order of importance. then set that list aside for a moment.
- Reflect upon the past two weeks, then imagine that you recorded how much time you actually spent on various activities. (For greater accuracy, keep a time log over the next week. Contact us and request a Time Analysis tool.
- List the top six activities then rank them according to how much time you devoted to each.
- Compare your two lists.
You may find that items on your first list didn’t even make it to the second one or that where you are spending your time is in reverse order to their importance.
Managing priorities starts with knowing what you want to achieve and then disciplining yourself to do whatever it takes to get you there.