The modern business world is ever-evolving. And our professional lives are marked by continuous change. With increasing demands on our daily attention and time, it can be challenging to stay focused on our overall business priorities.
Short deadlines, conflicting information or ambiguous processes can make successful prioritization more challenging. Even successful professionals can be left feeling distracted, overwhelmed or unable to focus on the essential business tasks that bring success.
The word “prioritization” has come up in a few conversations I’ve had, lately. It’s also featured as a micro-learning course within my favorite meditation app.
So it’s no wonder that “prioritization” is a topic of interest on my September “performance playlist”. Here are some thoughts on the issue.
Tool for success
Prioritization is a powerful success tool as well as a sanity saver. According to Andy Puddicombe, founder of the Headspace app:
"People with good prioritization skills often have a sense of calm, clarity and composure. Most of that comes from the ability to be present and not get caught up by distractions."
Three (3) helpful hints and handy hacks:
1. Mental algorithms
In technical environments, an algorithm is a pre-defined set of steps that generate a decision or an automated outcome. Taking inspiration from this tool, we can develop mental algorithms for planning our business activities each day.
Step 1: Start by getting crystal clear about your over-arching work goals.
Step 2: List the big bucket activities that help you to achieve those goals; prioritize them in order of importance and urgency.
Step 3: Keep this algorithm, top-of-mind, and ready to trigger when you feel stressed by time, distracted by competing tasks or overwhelmed by competing demands.
2. Diminish decision-making fatigue
Business professionals face a myriad of small decisions, each day, from what we wear to work to where we should be allocating our time. Eliminating the number of choices can reduce our cognitive fatigue.
Step 1: Take a good hard look at your typical business day
Step 2: Identify the priorities, tasks or activities that involve choice or decision-making
Step 3: Find a way to limit the number of options (decisions) and proceed more quickly to action
For more info, take a look at this article.
3. Compartmentalize your thoughts
With an ever-increasing number of distractions in our modern world, a “containment” strategy can help reduce the cognitive overload we may feel. Compartmentalization is a psychological technique that involves “walling off” or “boxing up” distracting ideas and unproductive thoughts.
Step 1: Take note of any recurring thought patterns that take you off task (i.e. mental noise that distracts you from acting on your work priorities).
Step 2: Picture yourself building a cement wall (or a box) around the thought pattern.
Step 3: Imagine yourself walking away from the wall (or floating the box down a river) and thereby free to focus on your high value business tasks.
Read more about compartmentalizing, by clicking here:
Why not make a concerted effort this month to review your business priorities and available time?
It might bring you value to assess your current knowledge, skills and abilities.
A wide variety of learning course are available in LinkedIn Learning and are appropriate for both executive leaders and front line associates.
I enjoyed one from productivity expert, Dave Crenshaw, titled: Prioritizing Your Tasks.
Click here to view a short introductory video (1 min 17 sec):