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Time management - Prioritising



Prioritising

General

Whether your approach is ‘monochronic’ (‘convergent’ personality) or ‘polychronic’ (‘divergent’ personality, see 'monochronic time' and 'polychronic time') you will have assessed a problem and arrived at a number of possible solutions.

The planning stage requires a closer inspection of each of the potential solutions and a decision on the strategy to follow or implement at the next step.
Sorting and evaluating the options has three key areas.

Before you arrive at a list of tasks ‘to do’ you will be evaluating all of the options put forward to resolve a problem. These will be considered against the goals of the task or project in hand.
Once you have a series of strategies for different projects (some simple, one step activities and others more complex) you will need to gauge how you spend your time on each.
You may end up with another list of new ideas to evaluate for relevance and resource requirements.

In the above cases you will need to make choices.
In the first case you are evaluating options (not really prioritising).
In the second you have a list of things ‘to do’ but are not sure in what order to tackle them.
In the third you have generated new ideas and will need to evaluate them in terms of priorities against goals.

For the convergent mind the options will be fairly easy to put in a logical order but the divergent person may find this more tricky finding other issues or distractions. The convergent mind tends to be happy getting to completion whereas the divergent person likes to generate more ideas.

While the extreme trait of the divergent personality to generate ideas is great, if this is at the cost of task completion it can have a detrimental affect on others within the team who may be relying on the task output.

Visual sorting

Convergent personnel are quite happy to consider the pros and cons of a list of tasks by discussion, making notes and balancing logical input.
For the divergent person this may seem an impossibly boring approach and they may not be able to tackle the sorting with out using a different tactic.

This may include the use of their spatial and colour strengths.
If the list of items requiring prioritisation is spread out on a desk top or on a notice board the divergent personality may find it easier to get to grips with them.

Communication and flexibility

Once you have decided on the order in which you will tackle tasks you must still be open to flexibility.
100 years ago communication was slow even within a local area. Any critical changes affecting your tasks from farther afield would necessitate some sort of messenger to update you. On this basis you would have had a lot of time to continue working on a task without interruption from change.

With today’s fast paced communication systems we have to respond to change a lot faster.

Resource

Today many people do work that would have been the responsibility of two or three people in the past.
This can create its own pressure when trying to prioritise tasks.

Many tasks will require input from others and if you have a good relationship with them you should benefit.

When looking at resource for helping with tasks and projects think what might exist outside your immediate environment.
There may well be the necessary experience elsewhere, for example, local students, retired personnel.

Restructuring

The current structure may not be appropriate to carry out the tasks you are responsible for.
Consider the structure of the team you have and if necessary change it. Particular tasks may act as a catalyst for this much needed change.
The increased efficiency may allow you, and others, to focus their energies on more strategic matters.

Inclusion

When you carry out many tasks you will need the input of many people. If you can include these, in a practical fashion, in the decision making process, update or progress meetings it should reap rewards. People who are included are much more motivated during their reactions. Relationships also improve which in turn create a more responsive working environment.

Non - PRINCE2 information