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Time management - Objectives


So you have a set of goals and you have worked backwards to agree a set of objectives using SMART targets. What next?

List of tasks

Objectives become a list of activities or targets that need to be completed. When all of the objectives are met the Goal will be reached.
So, in what order must you carry out the tasks to best achieve your goal?


Some tasks cannot begin until another task has been finished. These tasks are said to be dependent on each other.
In these, cases it is obvious in which order we tackle the tasks.
This area of dependency is tackled in much more detail elsewhere [see ‘The Complete Project Management package’] and [see 'The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2'].

Non dependent

Those tasks that stand alone and could in theory be carried out at any time and in any order must still be completed. But in what order for the best result?

Strategic v Urgent

There is more than one way to look at the prioritisation of task activity.
This method uses the concept of ‘strategic’ versus ‘urgent’ and tries to quantify them by giving them a value.
Later we will look at a slightly different method of ‘urgent’ versus ‘important’ and putting tasks into boxes with a broad action attached to each.

Over the time span we have set to reach our goal, in this method, we can break the tasks down into two key areas:

  • Strategic
  • Urgent

Those that are Strategic can be thought of as having an impact on the longer range requirements for the achievement of the goal.
Those tasks considered to have a greater strategic impact on the ability to reach the goal should be ranked higher.

Those that are urgent will need to be done very soon or right away, for whatever reason.


We tend to appraise tasks intrinsically and carry them out in an order we consider appropriate. This may not always be valid and in hindsight we may have done things differently.
It is good to have a more formal system to rank these objectives, that is give them some level of priority.

There are a few methods that you may wish to employ.

The first and second methods are more formal approaches and rely on using a ‘numerical value’ for particular criteria.

The third method has similarities to the others but is simpler and does not require numerical assessment.

We will look at the numerical methods first in more detail next.

Non - PRINCE2 information