Q. What is a priority? A. a thing that is regarded as more important than others.
Warren Buffet was famously once asked by his pilot for some guidance on his next career steps. He asked the pilot to spend some time writing down the top 25 goals that he had in life. From that list, Buffet then instructed the pilot to circle the top 5. The pilot assumed that these were the 5 he should pay attention to, and that he could dip in and out of the other 20 when he had time. Warren corrected him by saying “Your list of 5 is now what you must put all of your efforts into, and your list of 20 is your “Ignore at all costs” list and will only take you away from the most important 5″
Another method is to use the Time Management Matrix developed by Stephen Covey and consider if a task is Urgent/Not Urgent, and Important/Not Important.
- If a task is Urgent & Important, it needs doing right now. (Tasks such as a ringing phone, a customer complaint, a crisis)
- If a task is Important but Not Urgent, then it should be planned and completed in the planned time. (Performance management, monthly reports)
- If a task is Urgent but Not Important, then it can potentially be delegated. (Meetings where you have very limited input)
- If a task is Not Urgent and Not Important then it is wastage and should be eliminated. (Checking Social Media)
Obviously Urgent & Important are subjective and differ from organisation to organisation and role to role.