Archives for posts with tag: Priorities

You’re busy. Super busy. We get that, we all are, or most of us anyway. You work in a business large enough where there are teams, cross-department projects, interdependencies, contingencies, the usual array of complex, human interactions.

You have a full plate of things to do, stuff is coming at coming at you from all sides, and is continuing to do so. Some of it can’t be both urgent and important. You simply can’t get to it all, can you?

Although it’s tempting to put the blinkers on and focus on one thing at a time, you can’t let people down and you can’t leave everything until the last minute, or it won’t get done. So what do you do?

2 things. First, you need to quickly triage every project in which you have a part to play, or where you need something to happen, or where people are relying on you for something. Second, you need to work back.

Yes, work back. Think about the end point, then figure out how long it’s going to take to get to the end point, then work back and figure out when you need to start something, or ask someone to start something. It’s no use putting off the creation of an important piece of collateral for an event until 2 days before the event. It probably takes a week to produce this kind of thing, so delegate it out and brief somebody now, so that they’ve the time to get it done for you. Failing to work back means that you have to ask someone to do the impossible, to pull something out of the fire for you because you didn’t triage – or quick plan – properly.

Get into the knack of working back. It will help you go forward.

There is a phrase used colloquially in business: ‘trying to fit 10 pounds of manure into a 5-pound bag.’ OK, so the word manure isn’t usually used, but here it deputises nicely for its much more graphic and vulgar counterpart. You get the message; it conjures up a vivid image of what happens when we don’t prioritise well.

It’s a topic I’ve dwelt on before and it goes back to how well we manage our own time.

You can’t get everything done that you want to during the day, so list the things you have to get done and estimate the time it will take you to do each of them. Then rank them by importance, rather than urgency. Then work down the list and figure out how many you can do in the day. You’ll not get to the others. If item 1 is going to take you more than the full day, then you need to break it up into manageable chunks, which you can then re-rank.

Sometimes I pick off the smaller, less important jobs first, but this is high risk because then you might be looking at a very long working day since you have to get the most important job finished before you clock out.

If you don’t take a prioritising approach to your work, you’ll see your key projects drag on far longer than they should.

So should you be spending your precious time on the advice dispensed in this blog? If it helps you be more productive and successful, then of course.

That said, and from my own personal perspective, I don’t know how this blog gets done 3 times a week. Probably because I don’t view it as work. It’s more like living in another country. The longer you stay, the more used to it you become, and the harder it is to move.

In addition to my sales and marketing consulting work, I do a little bit of mentoring. The companies I work with tend to be either start-up companies looking for the best way to go to market or established companies who want to break into new markets.

I often ask the companies to show me samples of their communications and marketing, or to explain how they approach a sales presentation with prospects and existing customers. Most of them – around 90% I would say – start with themselves. Who they are, what they do, their history, that kind of thing.

It happens a lot, but it’s fundamentally wrong. Everything should start with your customer and their market. Whether you’re hoping to build a relationship, or you’re looking to challenge the assumptions and knowledge of your customer, you always start with them. Their market, their issues, their drivers, their objectives, their barriers, their success factors. If you can’t demonstrate that knowledge, you can’t make a connection, you can’t tell if you can help them, you don’t know if there’s a fit, you don’t earn their respect.

Once you demonstrate that you understand your customers’ pains and requirements, then you can establish how you’ve helped other companies with similar problems and how you’re uniquely placed to help them.

The direction of the dynamic with successful companies is from the customer to them, not from them to the customer. That way you’re not selling to them, you’re guiding them to buy.