How Should I Decide My Priorities?

Setting priorities is an essential part of management and is the only way that in reality you are able to deal with the range and volume of tasks that you will face in a typical day. It is not possible to do everything so some careful selection of tasks is needed.

No manager wants to be guilty of spending lots of effort on things that have no value and which ultimately lead to them being seen in a poor light and in being both ineffective and inefficient.

The following questions should help guide you through this process:

  • What should be done?
  • What should come first in this list of tasks?
  • What can be put aside for now, bearing in mind it will probably become an important task quite soon?
  • What can be delegated to your team members so that it still gets done? It is just that you will not be physically doing it.

Other important questions in the process of setting priorities include:

  • Do I have to do this work today? Can it be done another day?
  • Do I have to do this work now? Can it be put off?
  • Do I have to do this work at all? Is it business-critical or is it a “nice to do” task?
  • If I do this work what would I have to delay or abandon? What are the likely penalties if I do that and can I justify making that decision?
  • Who else could do this work? Who can do the task and would they benefit from the experience?
  • What would happen if no-one did this work? If the answer is that nothing bad would happen then why are you even considering doing it?
  • How does this work relate to my key tasks and objectives? Who will be judging my decision-making at this point and will the outcome be part of a wider Appraisal process?
  • Who else is involved or affected by this task and how important are they to me? Who are your stakeholders and what influence do they have over you?

Keep revisiting the above list and keep updating your priorities as demands on your time and objectives change.

Good Luck!

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