A question I get quite often

“How do you prioritize your work with so many things needing to get done every day?”

Wow, that’s a good one. It’s also a very challenging issue. In today’s environment, issues are flying at you all the time and coming from all directions. As an IT manager, many of these issues are things that happen that are beyond your control.

Here is what I try to do; works for me and will for you.

Categorize issues, projects, open items, etc. into one of three categories. Call them “A, B, or C”, “High, Medium, Low”, or “Critical, Needed, Nice to have” or anything that makes sense for you, , , but get your long list in some sort of priority.

List all of the open issues you have every week and reprioritize them into High, Medium, or Low (or the other descriptions we mentioned).

High items must be critical and absolutely required to complete soon.

Medium items are needed but are not necessarily critical.

Low items are good to have but don’t have the level of importance as the other two groups.

From the list of High items, prioritize each of the issues from top to bottom. In other words, number them from #1, #2, etc until all are sequenced in rank of importance as you see them. The trick is that you need to work on the absolutely most important issues first and get them off your list. Knocking off some of the issues on your list frees you up to tackle more.

Target the highest priority in the list to get it done or at least to the point required before working on something else. Be aware, however, that you normally have several balls in the air to juggle at one time. That’s OK as long as you are getting some things completed and off your plate, , , otherwise, you will ultimately be juggling too many balls until some of them start crashing to the ground.

Review all the items in all category groups to determine if they are where they need to be. If there are things that help you or your team’s productivity so you can get more things completed, you might consider placing a lesser important item ahead of others so you can do more later.

Sometimes, you might throw an easy project to the front of the list simply because you or your team need to see some accomplishment and successes taking place. Nothing motivates you more than to see positive results.

Make a habit of knocking off two or three major items from your list every day and you will slowly start to make big strides. The difference here is that you are being much more proactive and taking conscious steps in focusing on important issues you have quantified. Believe me, others will see the results.

3 responses to “A question I get quite often

  1. How do you manage your daily tasks please? Do you use a notepad, PC or Smartphone? There are so many time management tools available these days, leading to much confusion and complexity.

    • Harish,
      I use a simple Excel spreadsheet tool and develop a weekly list of To-Dos at the beginning of every week. I often print the page and keep it in front of me to help me focus on what needs to get accomplished this week. I don’t really manage from a Daily To Do list although I know people who do, , , seems to work better for me when I use a weekly To Do list.

      I have an iPhone and have played with a couple of apps, , , same thing with a few apps on my PC, , , but I keep coming back to the same old simple method I’ve used for years.

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2010 | ITLever™

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