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A Guide to Creating an Effective Priority Management Process

November 20, 2023

17 minread

byCasey Clark

Casey Clark
Casey Clark

CEO, Co-Founder

Chicago, IL

As a business partner, he helps his clients get a holistic view of their financial health by slowing down to talk about numbers. Then, he breaks down even complex problems into one or two elements to help them break through their barriers of growth.

We all have the same number of hours per week. Why is it that some people make the most of those hours while others struggle to get focused?

Process improvement consulting at work isn’t rocket science; it just requires being more intentional about prioritizing and managing your time. You can also always opt for performance improvement solutions.

In this post, we’ll outline strategies you can implement right now to manage your time better, starting with identifying and prioritizing your tasks.

What Is a Priority Management System?

Priority management is a strategy that involves directing attention and resources toward top-priority projects to achieve company objectives. This entails allocating resources, schedules, and other tasks in a way that ensures timely and successful project completion within the designated scope.

To achieve objectives, companies utilize a priority management system that includes strategies for delegation, decision-making, and time management. By utilizing priority management, businesses can effectively concentrate their time, finances, and resources.

Priority Management vs Time Management

Priority Management vs Time Management

Good time management uses time effectively, while efficient priority management chooses the right tasks to focus on.

Time management is a broader concept that encompasses techniques for managing time. In contrast, priority management is a specific aspect of time management that focuses on determining the order of tasks to be completed.

For example, a business owner may create a daily schedule outlining specific time blocks for tasks such as answering emails, attending meetings, and completing projects. He will then use time management to accomplish tasks efficiently.

Why Is Priority Management Important?

Managing priorities is crucial because, without it, your hard work will not lead to the desired results. Prioritizing tasks based on long-term outcomes achieves regular progress, maintains focus, builds momentum, and makes a meaningful impact in the areas of your work that truly matter. Investing your efforts in a few critical projects allows you to fully focus and see tangible results rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple tasks.

Priority management encompasses a range of tasks and processes, including:

Tasks Triage

Task triage involves organizing tasks based on their importance, urgency, and impact. This approach ensures that the most vital tasks are given top priority and that resources are used properly.

Workload Management

Workload Management

Workload management assigns tasks and roles to team members based on their individual capacities and skills to maximize team productivity.

Keeping Projects on Track

Companies keep tasks on track through project management techniques, such as creating a clear timeline, setting realistic goals and objectives, monitoring progress, and addressing any issues or delays that arise.

Project Visualisation

Project visualization involves creating visual representations to communicate and collaborate on the scope, timeline, budget, tasks, resources, dependencies, and risks.

Building Team’s Work-Life Balance

By identifying their top priorities and high-value projects, teams can create a plan for managing their time effectively and achieving a better balance between work and personal life.

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Create a Management Priority System in 9 Steps

To create a priority management process, you must give yourself time to plan. Pull out your long-term vision and follow these eight steps:

#1. Identify the Goal

Wondering how to set and track business goals?

If you often find yourself overwhelmed by your task list, it may be helpful to create a Master List. This allows you to organize your schedule for the upcoming month and adjust delegate tasks as needed.

To begin sorting tasks, gather four sheets of paper and a pen. Label each sheet as the tasks to be completed on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis, and use the fourth sheet as your Master List for all tasks.

#2. Create a List of Tasks

  • Step 01: Compile a comprehensive list of all the tasks and responsibilities. These can range from important tasks to smaller, less pressing ones.
  • Step 02: Once your Master List is complete, review it again with a fresh perspective. You will likely notice that these tasks have varying levels of urgency and importance.
  • Step 03: Organize your tasks according to their relevance to your business into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

#3. Prioritize All of Your Tasks

Prioritize All of Your Tasks

Consider how each task ranks in terms of urgency and importance. Urgency is how fast a task needs to be completed, and Importance is how much impact the task has on the end goal.

Tasks can fall into four buckets:

  • Urgent and important
  • Not Urgent but Important
  • Urgent but Not Important
  • Not Urgent and Not Important.

Figuring out how each of your tasks ranks can help you prioritize and eliminate some unimportant tasks.

To do this, assign a letter to everything on your list:

A – Urgent & Important (do first)
B – Not Urgent but Important (do later)
C – Urgent but Not Important (delegate)
D – Not Urgent & Not Important (eliminate)

For a step-by-step guide on managing priorities, download our Priority Management tool.

#4. Evaluate and Assign Tasks

Evaluate and Assign Tasks

Assigning tasks to teams and individuals should be based on their skills and expertise. Estimate the time it will take to complete each item, as this will help with managing resources and setting realistic deadlines.

For example, a task that requires technical expertise may take longer than a task that requires administrative skills. By estimating the time for each job, the workload can be evenly distributed among team members, making the overall process smoother and more productive.

#5. Develop Deadlines and Timelines

The best way to hold yourself accountable to your goals is by creating a work schedule. Start with your A priorities, then your B’s, and then your C’s. Suppose you have a D-priority task; figure out how to delegate it.

A simple trick to increase your productivity when scheduling your tasks is to use block scheduling for work to group similar tasks into one batch throughout the week.

Grouping similar tasks together lets you develop a groove and work faster and more efficiently. The tricky part is understanding how you work to schedule tasks based on when you will be most productive. Remember to be mindful of deadlines and try to schedule time-sensitive items early on in the week.

#6. Track Progress & Review

With a schedule, you can track how long each batch of tasks is completed. Did you stay on track? Do you need more or less time to complete your tasks? Once you’ve got a good understanding of your working habits, use that to keep yourself accountable and productive.

It’s also essential to track the progress of the tasks and adjust resources to the priorities and deadlines as needed. This ensures your company is on track to achieve its goals.

In this video, Cultivate CEO and Co-founder Casey Clark breaks down this process in detail.

#7. Give Feedback

Effective communication is paramount in ensuring a successful priority management system within a team. Regular contact allows the team members to stay aligned with the company’s goals, respective tasks, and deadlines. It also promotes transparency, facilitates efficient decision-making, and addresses any challenges or changes in priorities.

#8. Celebrate Successes

As employees progress towards their personal and professional growth, it is vital to give positive reinforcement that demonstrates your support and dedication in assisting them in achieving their desired outcomes.

Opt for a solution-oriented approach when giving constructive criticism. For instance, if an employee struggles with task management, suggest an objective, such as listing their top six tasks to complete daily.

#9. Continuously Improve Management Process

Regularly review and improve the priority management process to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity. Continuous assessments and updates ensure you are staying on top of your own priorities and driving your business forward. This prevents bottlenecks and allocates resources effectively – key to the overall success and growth of your company.

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Top 5 Priority Management Techniques to Use

#1. Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a decision-making tool used to prioritize tasks or actions based on their level of urgency and importance.

It consists of a 2×2 grid with four quadrants, each representing a different level of urgency and importance for individual tasks or actions:

  • The first quadrant is for tasks that are both urgent and important. These are top-priority tasks that require immediate attention.
  • The second quadrant is for tasks that are important but not urgent. These tasks can be planned and scheduled for a later time.
  • The third quadrant is for tasks that are urgent but not important. These tasks are usually distractions or interruptions that can be delegated or eliminated.
  • The fourth quadrant is for tasks that are neither urgent nor important. These tasks are often time-wasters and can be eliminated or postponed indefinitely.

The purpose of the Eisenhower Matrix is to help individuals and teams focus on the most important and urgent tasks, as well as eliminate or minimize less critical tasks that can drain productivity.

#2. SMART Goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. They create well-defined and attainable goals, making them easier to focus on and achieve.

  • Specific: Goals should be clear and precise, leaving no room for confusion or ambiguity.
  • Measurable: There should be a way to track progress and measure success.
  • Achievable: Goals should be realistic and within reach, considering resources and abilities.
  • Relevant: Goals should align with personal or organizational objectives, providing a clear purpose and motivation.
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline helps to maintain focus and create a sense of urgency.

#3. 80/20 Principle

80/20 Principle

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. This principle can be applied to increase company productivity in several ways. For one, honing in on the crucial factors responsible for 80% of the results can significantly enhance overall productivity.

Pinpointing the key drivers and allocating necessary resources and efforts toward them can help your company achieve impactful and efficient outcomes. This not only saves valuable time and resources but also frees them up to be utilized for other essential tasks.

#4. The Ivy Lee Prioritization Method

The Ivy Lee Prioritization Method is a simple productivity and time management technique developed by public relations consultant Ivy Lee in the early 1900s.

  • Step 01: Before bed, write down the six most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day (limit yourself to only six jobs).
  • Step 02: Rank these tasks in order of importance.
  • Step 03: The following day, focus on completing your first task before moving on to the second one.
  • Step 04: Continue working through your list in order. If you have any tasks left over at the end of the day, add them to your list for the next day. Repeat this process daily.

Limiting yourself to 6 tasks a day allows you to maintain focus on the most critical tasks and reduces the psychological pressure of having too many things to do.

#5. The ABCDE Method

Project managers swear by this method when faced with a constant stream of complex projects. It’s simple and incredibly effective.

  • Step 01: Grab a piece of paper and divide it into five columns, labeling each column with a letter: A for very important, B for necessary, C for excellent to do, D for delegate, and E for avoid if possible.
  • Step 02: Sort your tasks into the respective columns based on their importance and potential negative consequences if left undone.
  • Step 03: Within each column, prioritize your tasks by assigning each one a number that indicates the order in which you will tackle them.

It can be challenging to determine the urgency of tasks when they are all jumbled together, but by organizing them into a logical table, your priorities become crystal clear.

Achieve Success with Priorities Management: Final Thoughts

Once you evaluate your tasks, you’ll have a clear idea of what will help you accomplish your goals and where you should focus your energy. Remember, persistence is key. By continuing to plan, prioritize, and review, you will begin to see the difference.

If priority management isn’t your strong suit, and you don’t know where to start, you don’t have to do it alone. Schedule a free two-hour processing improvement consulting session with Cultivate Advisors to dig into your business goals and develop a plan.

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