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One Way To Prioritize Your Work

One thing you hear or see just about every day is how BUSY everyone is. Lack of sleep seems to be part of  bragging rights these days. People are traveling more, communicating more, and doing more, perhaps, than ever before. Because of this omnipresence of being busy overhanging our society, there is also a lot of advice about how to parse your responsibilities, break up your work day, or become more efficient at everything you do. The advice that John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, and The Commitment Engine,  gives on this subject is fairly different from anything we had seen before, however, so we thought we’d focus today on how he recommends you prioritize your work.

What Jantsch suggests is the creation of a hierarchical pyramid consisting of everything you need to accomplish for your work. Structuring a hierarchy helps guide you on a day-to-day basis by reminding you of what’s really important in the big picture versus what may be a task-oriented priority that is important but not essential. The pyramid looks like this:

Your Big Idea

At the top of your pyramid is your raison d’etre, your reason for being. This is what keeps you in touch with your big picture. Whether or not you work on this every day, it should always be front and center with everything you *are* working on.

Priorities for the Year

While many people focus on New Years Resolutions, Jantsch suggests that you focus on three or four goals for your business. Like your “big idea,” these may not be things you work on every day, but everything you do should fit into the context of those three or four big goals. If you need to decide what to work on next, working on things that will move you forward towards those goals should take top priority.

Goals within Goals

If you just set three to four goals and hope they happen, you’ll be setting yourself up for probable failure, which is why so many people fail to live up to their New Years Resolutions, too. When you establish your big goals for the year, you should also set up paths on how to reach those goals. Week by week, month by month, you can track where you are in progressing towards your ultimate goals for the year.

Projects

Projects probably seem like the lifeblood of your company. They are what you DO, after all. But all projects should connect in some way to your goals and your big idea. If you are in the enviable position of having too many projects, it may be time to start saying no. Knowing what to say no to can be guided by the upper portions of your work pyramid. If a project would be fun but doesn’t really fit into your “big idea,” that will be a likely candidate for cutting.

Tasks

It’s no surprise that tasks make up the widest portion of your pyramid, right? Tasks can be things that you really don’t like doing, things that don’t seem to matter by themselves. However, tasks also can be what take up most of our time. Cleaning out your email inbox can be a task. Cleaning off your desk can certainly be a task, but it’s important because you may find that file you were looking for three weeks ago. Filing is a task that can be boring but extremely important when you need to get your hands on something quickly. Jantsch suggests that in order to keep tasks under control, you should try to set up a rough schedule throughout your week where you focus solely on knocking out these unenjoyable tasks. Again, when it comes to prioritizing, tasks affiliated with projects that are key to accomplishing goals should come first.

As you can see, the visual of a pyramid helps you keep your focus on the really big ideas in your company while also helping you to prioritize your daily work. Of course, no plan is perfect and there will always be things that intrude on your best laid plans, but as a guiding structure, we think this would work well.

What do you think?

Note: This is our seventh post in our series inspired by John Jantsch’s The Commitment Engine. To read the rest of the posts just click here

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/waterpolosam/4691734787/ via Creative Commons

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