How to learn to prioritize and achieve what you want: 10 main steps to the goal

09/12/2016 14,864 0 Reading time: 15 min. Rating:


: Konstantin Bely

In this article, I will collect all the key information on how to prioritize . Correct prioritization plays a very important role in the life of any person; it is important in all spheres of human activity and in life in general. Correctly set priorities allow you to achieve great success in any business and realize all your vital goals and dreams.

Setting goals

A manager's time management is impossible without setting goals. Goals are a look into the future, a desired result, they determine the reason for actions, why a person does a certain job. Goals help set guidelines, points of aspiration, and attraction of effort.

You need to learn how to set the right goals. Let's compare the answers of different managers according to their functional responsibilities:

  • perform your tasks correctly / set the right tasks
  • find solutions to issues / use creativity, look for alternatives
  • conserve resources / optimize the distribution of material resources
  • work as expected / achieve your goals
  • reduce costs / increase profitability

As we see, with the same responsibilities, managers set different goals , obtaining different results. The second option involves a more productive approach to work. Goals can be strategic (the goals of the organization’s work), long-term and tactical - existing at a specific point in time.

Each leader or manager develops his own goals and conveys information to his subordinates. And the work of the organization as a whole depends on the correctness of defining goals . It is very important to take the time to identify the main goals that lead to prosperity and success, as well as ways to reach the “stars”. Knowing your goals and striving for them allows you to concentrate all your efforts and energy on important tasks, avoiding wasting your energy.

Goal setting is carried out according to the scheme: “Desires - opportunities - goal.”

Often desires exceed possibilities, circumstances do not allow you to immediately get results, it is necessary to balance, take into account external and internal obstacles, overcome them, and look for a compromise solution. An important point is that goals must be specific , have volume and time indicators.

Successful motivation

Motivation is necessary for a person to perform any job. Lack of meaning, interest, and fear lead to delays in completing tasks. In time management, it is recommended to start the working day with the most unpleasant action. It is important to motivate yourself to make a call, write a letter or report that is necessary, but there is no desire to do. But how to stimulate yourself to action? Let's discuss ways to initially set the right vector for your day:

  • The most important thing in work is to start acting, to take the first step . Having a work ethic will help with this.
  • “Anchors” serve as motivation to action . Each person has his own ritual - morning coffee at his desk, a cigarette before starting work, listening to inspiring music on the way, writing a work plan in a diary. The creation of anchors is very individual, it can be associated with school and student years, when it was necessary to tune in to study. They cause a special emotional state, readiness for battle - activation of internal reserves, concentration of attention.
  • In most cases, the solution to any problem is outlined in a couple of minutes , you just need to set the problem, think through solution options, choose the most suitable one and implement it. If the task is voluminous, it is recommended to divide it into parts, points and gradually complete it - from simple to complex.
  • You can motivate yourself using encouragement or punishment . Like in childhood, promising yourself to buy something on the way home if you complete all the tasks quickly. Or, for example, arrange a meeting with friends at the end of the week. But the main incentive should remain, of course, building a career, increasing income, increasing status.
  • You need to clearly understand why you need to complete this task, what result you will get . Then do it, forget it, and calmly switch to other issues. Motivation is also added by the deadlines for completing a task ; you must always limit yourself in time to stimulate action, and clearly set tasks.

Working with information

Time management of a manager presupposes the ability to handle information; everyone is familiar with the situation - mountains of letters, reports, documents. How to structure data and understand the flow of information?

Basic recommendations for working with information:

  • It is necessary to understand what is important information for us and what is not worth attention, and decide on the purpose of using the data.
  • Highlight the main information topics that are of interest and may be encountered in your work.
  • Decide on the form and volume of information storage . Documents can be stored in full or in part, in the form of a photocopy, scan, summary, or links to information.
  • Decide on the storage medium - paper or digital. Electronic allows you to store large amounts of data, while paper can be more reliable in the event of equipment breakdowns or software updates. It is better to use these two methods together, not excluding any of them, but complementing them.
  • Conveniently place the information so that it is in the access field . The most frequently used ones are at hand or on the desktop, less often - on nearby shelves, in separate folders. The main thing is to understand where the necessary data is located. You need to develop your own document placement system. Archived data is located in hidden folders or on other external media, on distant shelves.
  • Set your own data encoding - you can arrange it in alphabetical order, chronologically, or designate it with letters, numbers, or colors.

Algorithm for working with information. We ask ourselves the question: “Do I need this information?”

If yes:

  • Which section does it belong to?
  • In what volume and form will I store it?
  • Place the information in the proper folder in a convenient format.

If not:

  • Remove, put away or throw away

How to put what's important first

Combine all tasks

Surely you have a list of work tasks and personal matters, and various ideas are constantly spinning in your head. So it's very difficult to know what to tackle first. Therefore, the first step is to collect all the tasks in one place and mark the deadline by which they must be completed. You can use paper or services like Trello and Todoist for this.

Get rid of distractions

Block access to sites that take up a lot of your time. You can do this for the whole day or for a certain period when you need to work without distractions. If this is not an option for you, at least turn off unnecessary notifications.

Prioritization Methods

So, let's look at various methods of prioritization. I have already described some of them in more detail in other articles, so I will provide links - follow them to get acquainted in more detail.

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is ​​a very popular and effective way to correctly set priorities, which is actively discussed in various literature, at seminars and personal growth trainings. The essence of this method is to distribute all necessary tasks according to two criteria: importance and urgency. Thus, a kind of matrix is ​​obtained - a table in which the priority of completing tasks decreases from the upper left corner to the lower right.

By applying the Eisenhower matrix, you can almost completely eliminate the possibility that some important and urgent task will not be completed, and this is no small thing.

Read more about this method of prioritization in a separate article with illustrations: The Eisenhower Matrix.

Making to-do lists

Making to-do lists. Many people, when thinking about how to set priorities, use this method because it is very simple, understandable and accessible. The idea is to manage your time by making to-do lists and following that list. In this case, the most important things should be placed at the beginning of the list, and then, as priority decreases.

To make lists for prioritization as effective as possible, there are a number of rules you should follow. I wrote more about this in the article How to make a to-do list?

Pareto rule

Pareto rule. You can set priorities correctly using the famous Pareto rule (or law). Its essence is that only 20% of efforts bring 80% of the results and vice versa: 80% of efforts bring only 20% of the results. Prioritization in this case is very simple: you need to highlight your 20% of the most effective cases (based on an analysis of existing data) and concentrate your efforts on them. They will be your highest priority, and the remaining 80% will be secondary.

You can read more about the operation of this law and its application in the article Pareto's Principle (Pareto's Law). Rule 20/80.

Descartes square

Descartes Square is a rather complex method of prioritizing, requiring more time and mental investment than others, but also more accurate and more effective. It is best to use this method to set priorities in a global plan, for example, for a year, for several years, or even for a lifetime. It will be inconvenient for daily planning.

How to use this method for planning? You need to consider each of your goals from four sides:

  • What will happen if I do this?
  • What happens if I don't do this?
  • What won't happen if I do this?
  • What won't happen if I don't do this?

Each of your answers can be given a certain weight, and based on the sum of these weights, you can prioritize your activities: from greatest to least.

For more information about this technique with an example, read the article Descartes Square - a decision-making technique.

ABC method

The ABC method is a very simplified and therefore accessible way of prioritizing, which consists of dividing all your tasks into only 3 categories of importance:

  • A - very important;
  • B - not very important;
  • C - not important at all.

Accordingly, cases from category A will have the highest priority for you, followed by cases from category B, and last but not least - cases from category C. Despite all its simplicity, the ABC method almost completely eliminates the possibility of “losing” and not completing an important task, so it can be used quite well.

Olympic system

Olympic system. Prioritization according to this principle occurs through sequential pairwise “competition”—comparing tasks in order to determine the winning finalist.

Let's say you have 16 tasks (the number can be whatever you want). You hold a paired “tournament” between them - the 1/8 finals, choosing a higher priority task from each pair. There are 8 cases left - you arrange the 1/4 finals in the same way, in which 4 semi-finalists are determined. Then 1/2 finals to determine 2 finalists. And finally, the finale, where the winning goal is determined. She will be your highest priority, the second semi-finalist will be next in importance, the quarter-finalists will be next, etc.

Pairwise comparison method

Pairwise comparison method. This prioritization option is similar to the previous one, but a little more complicated, since here you need to compare tasks according to several criteria that are most important to you. It is convenient to give each of these criteria its own weight, for example, on a scale from 1 to 5.

For example, you choose where to invest your money, what is your priority. And you compare options according to 3 criteria: profitability, availability, risk. Choose between 4 options: bank deposit, securities, currency, gold. Compare all these options in pairs with each other according to each criterion separately. Thus, you get the most profitable option, the most affordable and the least risky. If risk weighs the most for you and affordability weighs the least, then the least risky method has top priority, followed by the most profitable, and then the most accessible. If according to some criteria the results coincide - generally excellent, the “winner” is immediately visible.

Priority of mutual influence

Priority of mutual influence. When using this method of prioritization, all the tasks facing a person are listed and how their implementation affects each other is assessed. For example, the goal “buy an apartment” is influenced by the goals “find a new job”, “improve your qualifications”, “create a source of passive income”. It is convenient to do this by drawing all the goals in circles and connecting them with arrows.

The highest priority will be the goal that is influenced by the largest number of others, that is, to which the largest number of arrows leads. And so on.

Contribution to global goals

Contribution to global goals - A method of prioritization that is completely opposite to the previous one. In this case, it is worth starting in the same way as the method of mutual influence, only the highest priority is given not to the goal to which the largest number of arrows leads, but to the one from which the largest number of them departs.

That is, the highest priority will not be the global goal, but the task whose implementation will contribute to the achievement of more global goals.

Multivariate analysis method

Multivariate analysis method. This method of prioritizing can be considered the most difficult, but also the most accurate. Here you need to highlight a number of factors by which you will compare your tasks and give each task a rating for each factor, say, on a 5-point scale. It’s convenient to arrange all this in the form of a table, where your tasks will appear vertically, and assessment factors along the horizontal line.

As a result, priorities will be prioritized in descending order of the total score of each task.

Assistive technology for time management

  • ClearFocus is suitable for applications on the Android operating system. It helps you control your time and distribute it to accomplish important tasks.
  • Pomotodo is an application from Chinese developers for both IOS and Android. The principle of operation is similar to the first service. Includes a 25-minute work timer and a 5-minute rest timer. Performance graphs in the application will help you track your progress.
  • - task list for Android on Google Play. The application also includes a reminder system for planned activities and a special calendar.
  • With the help of TickTick, anyone can create lists with tasks of different priorities. You can mark completed tasks, add new ones, and switch lists.
  • The Pomodoro technique is a special program that divides time into specific segments. For example, half an hour is divided into 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. Before work or school, write a to-do list and clearly follow the “pomodoro” segment. After you complete one task, take a break of 15-30 minutes and then proceed to the next tasks in a 25 + 5 minute pattern.
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