How can I make prioritising a priority?


Learn the skill of prioritising with a few simple steps

How on earth did this happen? One minute I’m writing course content on personal development and the next I’m trying to find a donkey. No, I really do have to find a Donkey. A major prioritising fail there!

The Donkey is for Palm Sunday. April 9th, months away. I have taken on the task of finding the star of the show.

Now I’ve a problem. I’ve committed to something that does not align with anything I do. It’s a time waster and I’m not alone. How often have you found yourself with a ‘Donkey’? You’ve said yes or volunteered for something that wastes your time, but have found yourself saying ‘Yes’ or worse, offering to help without being asked.

In short you’ve messed up your time management. The person who delegated the task to me though, well done. Planned ahead and delegated it. Off their desk and onto mine. No longer their problem although they’ve kept the accountability and responsibility. They get a big tick. I get a big cross.

Time management is an issue for all of us. I have just conducted a survey asking all of my connections about their main time management challenge. The responses came in thick and fast and in detail.

The biggest issue, with over 43%, is prioritising. Not the theory of prioritising, but putting it into practise.  It’s not a question of ‘What do I do?’ but ‘How do I do it?’

So how do you do it? –  You need to learn the art of saying ‘No’.

The late Steve Jobs once said: “Focus is about saying no.” and he was right.

Start with your objective. If you are very clear about what you need to achieve saying ‘No’ is much easier than if you are muddled about it. and if you want to prioritise then you have to say No. Write down your overall objective – job or otherwise – and turn it into a question. For example: Your role is to find the best possible talent for the business. Your question is “Will this help me find talented people?” If the answer to the question is ‘No’ say ‘No’.

Be very clear. How often have you said ‘I can’t make it’ when declining a meeting invite, when you actually mean I don’t want/need to attend? Don’t infer that you would go if you could. You’ll get asked again or they will rearrange. Say No.

It’s acceptable to say no. We work as teams but that doesn’t mean that you are responsible for making other people’s jobs work for them. You need to look after your own area, and if someone needs your input they need to work at making their priority your priority, not you. Don’t give into the temptation of saying ‘yes’ just because you find it uncomfortable or you want to be helpful. Say No to anything that doesn’t allow you to manage your time so that you can achieve the objective of your role. That’s what you are being paid for. Having clarity on the objective of your job is crucial to managing your time.

Where to start? Do you create your own time wasting work? Stop asking yourself to do things that do not earn the answer ‘Yes’. Say No to yourself. Practise saying No to yourself and you will find easier to say No to others.

  1. Get clarity on what you need to achieve.
  2. Turn it into a powerful question.
  3. Ask your question all the time.
  4. If the answer is No, Say No.

There is much more to time management and prioritising than saying ‘No’ but having a clear question that focuses you on your objective and following through by saying ‘No’, is a powerful start.

I wish I’d done it.  Does anyone have a Donkey I can borrow?

Bridget Marchi is a learning and development consultant, executive coach and mediator. With over 25 year’s experience in publishing and online fashion she is passionate about working with people to develop strong foundation skills that will support them through their career. Whilst she has extensive experience of delivering classroom style she now offers online learning options with The Time Management ToolBox and grab a less than half price Early Bird offer on Steps to Success, a self-coaching programme for long term success. She has also published The Management Jigsaw, a management induction course in a book.