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Managing Priorities

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Dear Valued Customers

Whenever we talk about time management, we must also in one way or other refer to managing priorities and filtering techniques. We often hear of the word ‘deadline’ in our day to day life, be it at home or at work.  At certain times we must have felt that we would never be able to meet those deadlines as we are not superheroes while time flies.  In fact, many leaders forget that the more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish especially when they see some great ideas looming around.  Yet we know quite well how important concentration and beam focus on specific goal represent.  So how do we go about managing deadlines, priorities and objectives so that we focus our finest effort on those things that will make a difference.

First, we should decide on the importance and urgency of each task (i.e. applying filtering techniques).  Any effective execution starts with a beam focus.

Second, we need to get organised by setting long, medium and short term goals (i.e. manage priorities).

Third, devising ways and means to achieve those set goals.

You need to adjust your tasks to the amount of time that you have as you cannot slow down or speed up time.  Using filtering techniques and being able to manage priorities is all about working smarter and carrying out all the important tasks.  Only exceptional dedication, commitment and drive can lead to becoming iconic in whatever you do and practice.

Filtering Techniques and Goal Setting

Human beings are instinctively drawn to tackle urgent issues first, even though they are not important.  Urgent tasks are usually more visible.  They require immediate attention.  They press on us and insist on actions like the ringing of a phone or a deadline for a given project.  Important tasks, on the other hand, have to do with results and outcome.  If something is important, it contributes to your mission, values, and your high priority goals.  For instance, planning your work is important though it is not pressing and does not require immediate attention.  Very often, your time is spent either reacting to emergencies or executing work which you planned to do.  However, you spend time only reacting to emergencies, you will not be able to execute other important tasks. 

It is here that the notion of reactiveness or proactiveness comes into play.  Reactive people are affected by their physical & their social environment. They are driven by urgency.  Proactive people are internally driven and will attend to important matters and not only to urgent ones.  Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important says Stephen R. Covey.  We react to urgent matters.  Some urgent matters may also be important.  However, important matters which are not urgent require more initiative and more proactivity.  Therefore, we need to get motivated to act accordingly.

Issues that are classified as Important/Urgent should be tackled first while those that are Important but not Urgent could be executed by setting deadlines for their completion.  Not Important but Urgent matters may well be delegated.

Another way of categorizing tasks is to look for must do activities followed by should do and then nice to do.  However, the best filtering technique is to categorize tasks by taking both urgency and importance into account.  Basically, you are the master of your limited time.  So you have to decide which task should be carried out first. You should realize that it is not necessary to do everything that comes to your desk on the same day.   But before putting off until tomorrow something you can do today, analyse it a bit deeper.  Decide on the urgency of your tasks as some may not require to be done on that particular day.

Software and Planning Tools

Nowadays with the use of computers, internet facilities, phone connection with software programe including smart watches, managing our precious time has been considerably enhanced.  These tools facilitate the proper planning of your different tasks that you have to attend to with its built-in prioritizing and monitoring metrics on a daily and weekly basis.  It is the way to help you master your priorities, make alterations easily and manage uncertainties. 


Different people have different ways of managing their tasks.  It goes without saying that you should always have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C while always expect the unexpected to happen.  You might decide, for example, to first tackle the assignments which require more concentration on your part in the morning. You can leave putting order on your table or doing filing work for the afternoon.  There is nothing more stressful than having to go through a messy desk or office to look for a missing address, phone number, letter, an email address or even a report.  If you stay organised, you will find that the amount of time you spend to look for things will be reduced considerably. 

Time Factor

One factor that you cannot change to meet deadlines is time itself.  Deadlines are deadlines and often we have to set them for things to happen.  So it is important that you work backwards from the due dates.  Again software tools can assist in marking down such tasks that need to be done and the date by which they should be completed.


Delegating tasks is another means to succeed in effective time and tasks management.  Sometimes it might be difficult to delegate and that is where care and cautiousness must prevail. You should provide all relevant details in a concise and transparent manner and make the delegated officer clearly understand what is being expected to ensure that your task is carried out as per your expectations or those of your boss. 

Break Off

You may sometimes get so engrossed in your tasks to meet deadlines that you often forget about your own needs.  You may think that taking a 5-minute break from your work time is too much.  It is good to aim towards completing a task and then take a break.  In fact, having a short break in between your tasks would definitely help and comfort you to sharpen and reenergize your focus.  This is not only useful to reflect on how your task is progressing and assessing whether you are on the right track or not but also simply because human beings are not machines and we need some diversion from time to time to sustain our effort.

Managing priorities in any area of your life (work, relationship etc.) is, therefore, crucial and key to your success.  You should have plans that really work – for today, next week, next month and next year.  You should know what to do first when everything is a priority and expectations are higher and higher.  Establishing and meeting deadlines while eliminating bottlenecks is a soft skill that you can develop with time and experience as well as with self-motivation.  You will also discover that once you start enjoying your work, you will experience far less stress as you will be able to handle anything that comes on your way.  By the way dedication and discipline beats brilliance and giftedness every day of the week.

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