Managing Priorities

You own a business.  You need more customers.  You have to complete payroll.  You need to manage inventory.  Invoicing to be done.  Bills to pay.  And, oh yeah, you have a family that likes to see you once in a while.

Business JugglerThese are all priorities in one sense or another, and they can add stress to your life when everyone of them is due … today!

An easy solution:  Delegate.  However, what if you’re it?  The owner, sole proprietor or only member of the LLC, sales person, order filler, and, basically, the only employee?  How does that alter your priorities?  What if there isn’t anyone as well trained or as knowledgeable about the task to get done as you are?  What if you lack trust in someone you could delegate it to?  All kinds of challenges for managing priorities.

You bear the ultimate responsibility, so broaden your shoulders, delegate what you can, and get what you can accomplish done.  What you are unable to delegate effectively become your priorities for the day.

Two schools of thought.

1) Do the easy, simple and quick tasks to get them out of the way so you don’t have to worry about them.  When they’re done you can tackle the larger, more important tasks that require more time and energy.  You will still have to deal with interruptions.

2) Tackle the most important task first.  If it truly is the most important job and must get done, then it doesn’t matter if the smaller tasks don’t get done because the big job has to get finished.

The first school of thought may seem inane, but if you have more energy and fewer interruptions later in the day or after you’ve cleared the small jobs, it can be a viable method of managing priorities.

The second seems more logical, and could be, depending on when you have the most energy to tackle that type of work.  And, if you procrastinate on the big one, the other tasks will pile up and frustration will decrease your overall productivity.

The magic formula lies in assigning priorities to the tasks on your plate.  A #1 or “A” priority should require your attention before a #4 or “E” task.  Again, delegate if you can.  What also helps is an understanding of approximately how much time the tasks on your To Do list are going to take.  If generating a report for shareholders only requires a few key strokes and a review of the information, bump that up on the priority list because it is going to shareholders, and they like information in a timely fashion.

Each day is different, so keep that in mind, along with the realization that procrastination is also a decision … to do nothing about the task.  Perhaps it wasn’t a priority after all.

Somewhere in this mix needs to be a priority on yourself and your family.  Schedule yourself some “Me Time” and have some fun for a change.  Go out to dinner, or catch a movie you’ve been wanting to see.  Take a road trip.  Go see your parents or grandparents and visit for a few days.  Life is too short not to enjoy it.

A good friend, Jay, shared a saying that is appropriate:  How likely are you to say to someone on your death bed:  “I wish I had spent more time at work.”?

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