Leadership Skills (6ofX) - Prioritizing and Planning

21 Feb

Time is never enough.  Time is non-renewable resource.  Time can neither be bought nor borrowed.  Proper time usage is fundamental to the effectiveness of the manager.

The time is fixed up to 24 per day while the number of our tasks continues to grow. Often there is no time for all of them.  At this point prioritizing comes to assist us.

Priorities setting allow us to focus our time and efforts to solve the more important and more urgent tasks.  Thus, at the end of the day only less important and less urgent tasks will remain unfinished.

Prioritizing and planning the week.

Let’s draw a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system with two criteria: importance (ordinate axis) and urgency (in abscissae axis).

Important and



Important and

Not urgent



Less important and



Less important and

Not urgent

The number of the quadrant shows the sequence in which the tasks in the relevant quadrant are to be executed.

Quadrant 1.
Here come the tasks that are both urgent and very important.  It is logical to start with them.  This is the quadrant of management, meeting the requirements of the present situation.  We should note that the poorer planning increases quadrant 1 share.  And if you now ask the question "Why?", I will answer - in the absence of planning, more tasks are delayed, and tasks that were important, but less urgent become urgent. The tasks in this quadrant persecute us and require their time.  Their urgency and significance determine they should be done first.

Quadrant 2.
Quadrant of quality and strategy. Here are the activities that are important and less urgent such as long term planning, structural changes in the company and in the processes, opening new divisions and closing of loss-making ones, trainings, team building.  Good planning and execution of the quadrant 2 tasks helps to reduce the quadrant 1 share.  Quadrant 2 does not put time pressure on the managers and therefore it is often overlooked.  The result is more urgency, more stress, more mistakes, less efficiency and personal overheating.

Quadrant 3.
Urgent and less important tasks create a sense of personal importance, capability when they can deal with greater number of problems for the same amount of time. The adrenaline created by the task urgency erases the memory of the small task significance.  After a while the people that are drowned in quadrant 3 prioritizing, planning, leadership skillsstart to oscillate between two extremes: blaming themselves – I work so hard and yet there is no result"; and all others are guilty -"I work so hard, but the others ... (do not recognize my efforts, they are unqualified, etc.)" Managers, who give priority to urgent and less important tasks should not blame anybody but themselves if in an year or two their competitors march far ahead or their managerial positions are threatened.
Quadrant 4.
Quadrant of our harmful habits. If tasks are neither important nor urgent we must delegate them. And there is no one to, then we should place them on the very bottom line of our task list.  Imagine that everyone in the company start to do less the important and minor problems first. Who will do the urgent ones? How about the most important tasks? How long will such a company survive? The less important and not urgent task should be assigned to the less qualified members of the team or to be outsourced.

We want to schedule tasks for the next week…
Where do we star from? – We start from quadrant 2. Quadrant 1 tasks are both urgent and very important - they are simply reflected in the calendar. But not planning any activities of quadrant 2 will allow the urgent but unimportant tasks from quadrant 3 to take over our everyday lives and prevent the rise of our personal effectiveness and our department/company.
When to plan? - Friday, after the workweek is over. First, review the tasks of the week, have we followed the preset priorities…, taken the corresponding lessons and then only plan the next week. On Monday the need to travel to work with clear mind about our upcoming important and urgent or important and less urgent task.

Of course, the reasoning valid for older periods, month, year, but the task grew naturally in projects, investments, entering new industries, liquidations ...

Prioritizing and planning  tomorrow

When we have a weekly program, planning for tomorrow can be done in a simpler scheme.
Prioretize tasks in three groups:
      A.  Tasks that must be done tomorrow.
      B.  Tasks that are advisable to be done tomorrow.
      C.  Tasks hat are to be done only if you have time.

When should we prepare the plan? - Probably you will not be surprised by this recommendation - at the end of the workday. The maximum effect can be taken when we end our workday with a 10-15 minutes recap and analysis.  Marking today’s tasks as “done” provides constructive sense of satisfaction from a job well done while the undone tasks motivate us for better performing tomorrow.  Such mini analysis of the work day allows us to close it and to free our mind for the remainder of the day dedicated to our family, friends or ourselves.

I hope you to agree with my decision to include prioritizingo and planning among the key leadership skills.



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