Business Leadership Skills: Setting Priorities

Marcy Amaro
November 19, 2012 — 946 views  

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to always be on top of the world? They are always smiling, their hair is never out of place, they have time for coffee between board meetings, and yet, they are always at the top of the leader boards in their department. How do they do it? Do they have a special time warp that they enter to freeze time while they do their work? Do they secretly hire others to do the work for them? If we all have the same 24 hours to every day, how is it that some people seem to get everything done with time to spare, while others scurry about trying unsuccessfully to finish their first task? Well, the answer is actually a lot simpler than you might think. These people can get everything done because they have mastered one of the most important business leadership skills there is: setting priorities.

You've heard it time and time again: "No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan." Well, in order to set priorities correctly you MUST have a plan. What is it that you want to achieve this year? This month? This week? Today? You get the idea. Establish a plan for what you want to accomplish. This will give you direction and a specific aim. After all, it's a lot easier to steer once you know your destination. If you have been assigned a number of tasks by your boss, make sure to ask which are most relevant to them and that you both agree on what should be completed.

Break down each goal into specific tasks that must be completed in order to achieve that goal. Assign each task a deadline. Make sure that the deadlines are in the right order, so that not completing one will not keep you from working on the next one. (Remember that deadlines are not necessarily dates, they can be hours, minutes, or even just establishing the order of execution). Write the tasks down in order.

Now, the only thing you have left to do is separate those tasks into three sections. "Must do" items which are things that require your immediate attention. These cannot be postponed or ignored without some major consequences. Make sure these are at the top of your list for the day. "Should do" items which are things which are important, but which can wait until the "Must do" list is completed. They can probably even be set aside for the next day without any major repercussions. "Ask someone else to do" list, which are things you can comfortable delegate to others. Now, keep in mind that delegating a task does not free you of the responsibility. You must still ensure the task gets completed. So, choose carefully what you delegate and to whom. That being said, it is imperative that you learn to delegate. No one can do it all, we all need help once and again.

Take a look at your new list. If there is anything that you did not incorporate into one of the three lists mentioned above, then it can probably be discarded. It was probably not something truly necessary. If your "Must do" list has more than five items, revise it to see if the tasks are not too limited in scope (Writing down "check voicemail messages" and "return phone calls" on the same list would be redundant and limited in scope. ) If you still have more than five items, use the 3 R's to determine what can be downgraded to "Should do"

The 3 R's are "Required", "Return", "Reward". What is it that is really required? Establish what things are truly essential and cannot by any means go without being done. What tasks have the biggest return? Which of the tasks on the list will make the activity more profitable for you and the company? Finally, ask yourself what will bring the biggest reward? Which tasks will help you grow, advance, or will satisfy you more? You should now have a manageable list of tasks to complete.

After you have established what must be done, remember these keys to productivity. Work on ONE task at a time. Multitasking will only slow you down, contrary to popular belief. Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. You can be busy for an hour and accomplish absolutely nothing. This is why it is so important to keep your focus. Finally, remember to work smarter, not harder. If you need to dig a hole and you go at it with a spoon, you will work really hard and might eventually get it done. But, are you working smart?

Setting priorities the right way is definitely one of the most important business leadership skills. It will literally determine how much you accomplish and how far you get. Once you have mastered this skill, you will join the ranks of the super achievers which seem to have all the time in the world, and still get things done!

Marcy Amaro

Marcy Amaro is the owner and creator of . She is a wife, mother of two, and a former English teacher, turned internet entrepreneur. She has gone from a schoolroom to working with six-figure income earners and millionaires, all from the comfort of her home. Her Passion is helping others who have a burning desire for success achieve their dreams. You too can succeed. Find out how at .