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Time Planning - How to Prioritise Tasks

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Posted 04 June 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with the development of your time management skills training.

How to prioritise tasks

It is important to have a method of properly prioritising your tasks

If you do not have a proper method of prioritising your tasks, then you probably won't prioritise your tasks properly.
And if you don't prioritise tasks properly you will not be doing the most valuable things, in the correct priority order.
You may even end up doing some trivial things, in the wrong order.
Which would be bad for the business and bad for you too.

How should you prioritise tasks properly?

Whenever you are prioritising tasks, you should always consider two main criteria.

  1. What is the value of the task? (Meaning, how important is this particular task, in relation to the achievement of the long range major goal that you have set for yourself).
  2. What is the deadline pressure, associated to this particular task? (Meaning, how urgent is this task? How long have we got before this task must be completed?).

Please note the following time management rules.

  • The primary consideration is value.
  • The secondary consideration is the deadline pressure.

Do the high value tasks before the low value tasks.
Do the urgent tasks before the non-urgent tasks.

If we plot a graph with value and deadline as the two main axes, we see the following.

The Proper Time management Prioritisation Method

The Proper prioritisation method is to take any task and ask two questions about it.

1. What is the value of the task? Is it; extremely valuable, or highly valuable, or only, quite important or not important.

This will give you a level of importance across the page; a height on the Y axis.

2. What is the deadline pressure, associated to this particular task? Is this particular task, not urgent, quite urgent, very urgent, or extremely urgent?

This will give you a level of deadline pressure and give you the length along the X axis.

Using the two sets of four descriptions, you have categorised each task according to value (importance) and deadline pressure (urgency).
The two answers will give you a point on the graph in one of 16 boxes.
And therefore each task is plotted on the grid into one of 16 boxes.

Then your job is to do the tasks in the order given by the grid numbers below.

1. You should do all the Q1, high value high deadline pressure jobs first.

Do all the Q1 tasks first. The work in boxes 1-4 should be done first.

2. You should do all the Q2, high value, not urgent jobs second.

Then you do the Q2 work. The work in boxes 5-8 is done second.

3. You should do all the Q3 lower value, high urgent jobs, third.

Q3 work is done third. The work in boxes 9-11 is to be done third.

4. You should do all the Q4 lower value, not urgent jobs, fourth.

Q4 work is fourth. Do the work in boxes 13-16 last, if at all.

Time management examples.

Would you please take some examples of tasks that are on your current "to do list" and plot them on the graph.
Put them on the graph and then you will see the best order in which to do them.
Have a go, it is fun.

And it is very interesting to see how your tasks show up on the grid.

Time Management Training

Time Management Training

Most people feel they need help with time management. How can you get more done in the same amount of time? How can you stop other people wasting your time? If you want to know how, then click here to find out more about our time management training course.

A further refinement and improvement of prioritisation method.

In order to refine this method you need to objectively define the descriptions that I have used to describe the grid. (I have used word descriptions, qualitative descriptions, non-numerical descriptions). You need to transform them into context specific, quantitative descriptions, using numerical values instead of word descriptions.

For example: You need to ascribe exact values that will denote and distinguish, "Extremely valuable" from "highly valuable". These values are specific for your organisation and your current time and place. You need to decide what figures constitute high and not high values and put them onto the grid.

Then do the same with deadline pressure.

Decide the exact amount of time that should be used to objectively define "very urgent" from "extremely urgent".

Then you would have a refined tool that will tell you exactly what tasks should be done, in what order. This would represent the ideal, and your task would be to operate as closely to the ideal as your actual circumstances will permit you to operate.

The closer that you come to operating at the ideal level of efficient action, the better results you will see from your efforts.

Thank you.

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