hourglassIts as easy as ABC!

How did you get on with a ‘Do it’ list? I now want to help you complete the prioritising but first we need to unpack ‘Important’ in a bit more detail.

Last time we saw how the definition of Important in this context was a matter of values and had a particular focus on your unique gifting and responsibility. However, there are other considerations and these typically relate to how you interact with others. Let’s consider an example.

Suppose you have to write some ‘copy’ for a piece of publicity. This may not seem very important or urgent to you for today. You know it is not going to be printed for another month. However, when you have written that copy it has to be incorporated into a design by some Graphic Designers. They may well produce some ‘roughs’ for you to consider before producing the final design which you will approve. If you delay writing the copy it is putting them under unfair pressure which may result in missing the deadline. So, ‘Important’ in this case is determined by the effect on others of your not doing it today.

There is no rigid definition of ‘Important’ – your gifting and the interaction with others are just two of a number of indicators you may wish to consider. But it is ultimately personal to you.

ABC
So we have a list of 15 items and can begin to break them down into one of four categories, as defined in the last posting. As I promised, the solution to prioritising is as simple as ABC.

Look at your ‘Do it’ list and put * beside anything that is urgent. That does not prioritise in itself but alerts you to consider the urgency when assigning priorities. Now put an ‘A’ beside any item that is both Important and Urgent. These are the first things you will be giving your time to. Hopefully the number of such items will be small.

Next look at the list and put a line through anything that is neither Important nor Urgent – why waste your time on it!

The third stage is to allocate as many ‘C’s as possible. C is the category for Important but not Urgent, in other words activities you do not realistically expect to do today but nevertheless you will do them at some stage, not delegate them. I am not in favour of procrastinating or putting things off till later but this is the one occasion on which I recommend planning that way!

The final ‘B’ category is for everything else. It will include the remaining items ie
a) Urgent items marked * and b) other items that you would really like to achieve today but can wait till tomorrow if necessary without serious consequences. It is at this point that you decide how to delegate the Urgent activities.

  • If Urgent activities appear on your ‘A’ list that is OK. You expect to get them done today and they probably need to be top priority
  • If there are Urgent activities on your ‘B’ list you should consider someone else doing them, in which case the action is ‘Delegate xxx to yyy’ and re categorise it to you’re ‘A’ list
  • If it is on your ‘C’ list it should not be! Those items are definitely not going to happen urgently.

1, 2, 3
Now look again at the 3 categories and consider each group in turn.

Because the number is so much smaller than the original 15 in each category it is simple to prioritise within that category with 1, 2, 3 etc. Write these numbers beside the letter so that you will now have a randomly written list with A1, A2… B1, B2 etc beside each item, thus giving a priority order. Never give the same rating to two or more items!

Were do we go from here?
Now that I am encouraging you to write lists etc it is time to consider what is a suitable ‘vehicle’ (i.e. a ‘super diary’) for planning and recording lists and activities. This will be the topic for the next posting. Both electronic means and paper will be referred to. Meanwhile, use a notebook to make your Do it lists if you have no other way and practice allocating As, Bs and Cs.

I hope you are beginning to feel the impact of this series in your life!

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