It’s All Urgent! Six Ways to Prioritize When Everything’s a Priority

It's All Urgent by Laura Stack #produtivity

"Action expresses priorities." -- Indian statesman Mahatma Gandhi. As Scottish poet Robert Burns pointed out in his poem "To a Mouse" in 1785, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!" In other words, no matter how carefully you plan, things still go wrong. Among the most important schemes of the modern office worker, and therefore those most likely to "gang agley," are our priorities. Most of us compile exhaustive to-do lists and make serious efforts to triage our schedules, but sometimes priorities collide in ways we don't expect. A specific project may come due earlier or later than expected, conflicting with existing priorities; an emergency request may also raise its ugly head, or a superior might … [Read more...]

It All Comes Tumbling Down: How Much Is Too Much?

It All Comes Tumbling Down by Laura Stack #Productivity

"A man's gotta know his limitations." -- Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" Callahan, Magnum Force. Have you ever watched someone juggle chainsaws? I have—my speaker friends The Passing Zone do it several times a week. Scary right? I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, would you? But in fact, you already have been, at least in a sense, if you're in a position of any authority at work. The difference is that this crazy duo juggles dangerous objects for fun, as you may have seen on America’s Got Talent. You might have a job with one big responsibility (a single chainsaw), such as a bodyguard (protect someone), lifeguard (keep people from drowning), grocery store bagger (pack up groceries), or personal assistant (make someone’s life easier), but they're uncommon—especially in the business … [Read more...]

Ruthless Prioritization

Ruthless Prioritization by Laura Stack #productivity

Based on a mountain of evidence (and my own extensive experience), it's clear that prioritization is one of the most difficult issues plaguing modern workers, who stare at 117-item to-do lists. This holds true from the lowliest intern all the way up to the pinnacle of the C-Suite. Because you only have so much time in your day, you have to spend some of it figuring out how to rank order your tasks. You know how difficult this can be and how easily fumbled—we've all dropped the ball occasionally. You may have problems setting priorities for the multiple projects you're juggling, or your boss may insist everything she hands you has top priority. Whatever the case, you have to scramble to keep up, risking overwork and overwhelm. With that bald reality staring you in the face, one thing … [Read more...]

Prioritization: Reordering Your World

Prioritization sits near the top of any list of successful leadership skills. This holds true whether the leader involved runs an army or the night crew at the local donut shop. It holds true everywhere on Earth and has for all of human history. In general, prioritization represents the order in which you organize and ultimately accomplish the goals most important to you: your faith, your family, your friends, your career, your self-care, and your daily work. You have to look closely at each and decide which items should come first and how everything else should follow. While all these categories are important, they aren't equally important at all times. As we limit this discussion to the work arena, prioritization may involve several levels of responsibility, starting with the personal … [Read more...]

What Comes Next? Criteria for Choosing Your Next Task

"The role of leadership is to transform the complex situation into small pieces and prioritize them." -- Carlos Ghosn, Brazilian businessman (Chairman and CEO of Renault, Nissan, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance). "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States Just about every productivity expert prescribes a to-do list as part of your time management process, and I'm certainly no exception. In fact, I advocate keeping at least two. First up: the daily High Impact Task or "HIT" list, a short list of everything you must do today. Second, use a Master Task List to track upcoming tasks and items you want to accomplish … [Read more...]

Four Things to Stop Doing at Work

"Ill habits gather by unseen degrees/As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas." -- John Dryden, English poet (Absalom and Achitophel, 1681) Have you updated your NOT-to-do list lately? Most of us are pretty good about compiling daily to-do lists to guide our workflow, and there's no denying that those lists are vital for maximizing productivity. However, in many ways, a list of things you refuse to do is just as important. A not-to-do list doesn't have to be fancy. You simply start by writing down the time-stealing behaviors that you prefer not to take part in; then you review and revise your list periodically, to make sure you don't accidentally slip into habits that damage your productivity and keep you at work too long. Obviously, not-to-do lists will vary from person to person, … [Read more...]

Productivity Minute Video: Do Things In Order of Importance

Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro(R) gives advice on prioritizing so your most important tasks get done. (C) 2011 Laura Stack, All Rights Reserved … [Read more...]

Office Productivity: Making No Mean No

Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best. -- John C. Maxwell (author, speaker, and pastor). In Oklahoma!, the befuddled Ado Annie Carnes sings, I'm just a girl who cain't say no, I'm in a terrible fix I always say "come on, let's go!" Jist when I orta say nix... Ever find yourself in Annie's situation? Are you a people pleaser? Do you have trouble turning down new tasks, even when you're drowning in work? Does everyone turn to helpful ol' you when they need something done? Is your schedule packed until the turn of the century? Sounds like you need to learn to say no graciously—and make it stick. Many of us have been conditioned by society to say "yes" to any reasonable request. It's as if the word "no" is a four-letter word, even when you've got all you can … [Read more...]

Business Efficiency: FREE Webinar with Laura Stack January 7

Leave the Office Earlier with Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro®, Day-Timer, and Office Depot January 7  from 10AM-11AM Mountain Time. ** Sponsored by Day-Timer and Office Depot ** Do you find yourself continually racing against time? Do you feel that you have so much to do that it’s difficult to get anything done? Managing time effectively is the key to managing your individual performance. Time management is much more complicated than making a list and checking things off. Learn how to set priorities and focus on what’s truly important, plan and schedule your day, and organize your time management system. Attend this special webinar with Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro®, and you'll learn how to achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. Get your work done efficiently and leave the … [Read more...]

Time Management: Ten Reasons Tasks Never Move off Your To-Do List (and how to fix it)

Ten Reasons Tasks Never Move off Your To-Do List

I recently surveyed my readers on the eternal question of productivity: Why is it that some things on your to-do list never get done?  Some great responses rolled in, ranging from the classic (too many interruptions) to the matter-of-fact (I don’t feel like doing it).  But as diverse as the responses were, it didn’t take long to see certain themes emerge.  Below are the top ten issues at the heart of the problem and some guidance on how to deal with them. 1. You haven’t made the necessary decisions.  Your to-do list should be full of clear, actionable ideas—in other words, things you can actually do.  If you have a vague goal, like “Have a sale,” you’ve still got a lot of thinking to do before you can hit the ground running and make real progress.  Take a minute to figure out exactly … [Read more...]