Covid-19 means you’ll have to get your priorities straight

Brian Joss – The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that life as we once knew it will not be the same in the future.

Individuals and businesses alike have had to rearrange their lives and prioritise certain aspects. Prioritisation is a decision-making process by which you rank, in order of importance, tasks you must complete. By completing the tasks on your list in a specific order you are more likely to achieve your goals. This sounds easy, but it is not always that simple. In fact, priority-setting and sticking to the agreement you make with yourself will likely be a major challenge for you as a business owner, as your business needs may be pulling you in different directions, ultimately sidetracking you. Here are seven important suggestions to help you draw up a priority list and make it work.

  1. Group your priorities meaningfully

It is possible to prioritise your daily goals, in the process, saving you time and effort. For example, by postponing an inspection of that new equipment in the factory across the parking lot from you until after lunch, may result in you being able to schedule a mid-afternoon meeting with the factory supervisor. You may even be able to accomplish a couple more goals for the day, during that one trip. Sensible planning brings with it time saving rewards.

  1. Do it OR remove it

Do not let an item become an irritation to you. If a task has been on your priority list for a relatively long time, deal with it decisively and immediately or delete it from the list. If it has to be done, DO IT. If not, get rid of it and make room for something more important.

  1. Resist chopping and changing

Continually changing priorities will get you nowhere fast. If you start something and then switch to something else, you will soon lose motivation. If a task is near the top of your priority list, that means it is worth completing otherwise it would not be there. Exercise self-discipline and get it done. Dig right in until it is complete. Tackle the next task in the same way, then the next and so on. Do not worry if you finish only two or three by the end of the day. You will be concentrating your energies on the most important tasks.

  1. Balance your priorities

By focusing on major, often time-consuming tasks, which you have placed at or near the top of your priority list, you could find yourself neglecting other tasks. This may cause further problems in the long run. To avoid this likely problem, keep all your priorities in mind as well as documented. Having stressed the importance of resisting the temptation of chopping and changing, it is wise counsel to have a degree of flexibility when focusing on your top priorities. Be firm but not rigid.

  1. Confront those difficult tasks head-on

Avoid the temptation to lower a high-priority task purely because you are afraid to face it. Playing for time does not solve problems. Your priority list will fail to serve you well unless you are honest with yourself and put the important things first, even if they are difficult.

  1. No interruptions

Develop the mindset that during certain hours of the day you cannot be interrupted. That means no phone calls, no meetings, no unscheduled visitors popping in to your office. During this time, you must be 100 percent focused on your high priority tasks. When surgeons are in surgery, they don’t get interrupted. They are required to focus all their attention on the task at hand. If you want to achieve your high priority tasks, you need to act in the same way, with a laser-like focus.

  1. Increase your level of effectiveness

If you want to increase your level of effectiveness by making better use of your time, then you must begin by making your “to-do” list work better for you by adopting this timely advice: Shorten your “to-do” list to a “must-do” list. A shorter list will energise you simply because it looks doable. In order to decide what tasks rate as “must-do” try answer these two basic questions: “What will happen if I do this?”; “What will happen if I don’t?”

*Information from Futhi Cabe, WesBank Head of SME Segment

Caption: Achieving your goals with a to-do-list. Picture: Motorpress

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