While it is very important to know how to prioritize tasks, it is also very important to know how to execute them. The burdens of tasks don’t rest only on the shoulders of the agitated secretary in a cozy office. At any given point in time, everyone irrespective of our works of life are confronted with diverse responsibilities that needs our attention.
Although most tasks need attention, there is a need to differentiate between the urgent and the important. The fact that a task is urgent does not necessarily mean it is important.
A caller may buzz your phone 5 consecutive times in 3 minutes. Does that mean the call is urgent? Most likely. But does it mean it is important? Not necessarily. Being able to differentiate between the two will save you a whole lot of headache.
You need to understand that the selfishness of man has so grown in status and stature that everyone seeks for your immediate attention in spite of irrelevant the issues may be. So don’t feel guilty when you fail to respond to certain disturbances or tasks.
I often tell my friends not to disturb me whenever I’m busy, except it’s an emergency. In this part of the world, paramedics, fire service and police are not very efficient. Relying on them is tantamount to welcoming a disaster. However, if my presence in the face of an emergency will not make much difference, and if there is someone else who can remedy the situation, they should call that “someone else” to help.
Once more, differentiating between the urgent and important will not only help you avoid headache, but also stress, heart attack and time wastage.
These are four practical ways to manage tasks/projects of any kind:
1. Dump It
Yea, that’s right. Some things don’t need your attention or consideration. Some mails shouldn’t be read, and some calls shouldn’t be received. Time is a currency, and can get exhausted. When you give attention to everything, you will not have sufficient time for the important ones.
You’ve got to learn to say No to people without feeling an iota of guilt. I learnt this the hard way. As a young writer, a lot of people kept approaching me to help them out with thesis works, essays and poems – all for free. I didn’t want to disappoint them because they are my friends, and I kept saying yes.
The result was that I made a whole lot of promises that I couldn’t keep. The pressure on me kept mounting and I couldn’t even attend to my personal business. This continued for a long time until I borrowed a leaf from wisdom. I had to rise up to the occasion and stopped putting myself in harm’s way.
Now, it’s no longer business as usual. If you want a job done, you pay for it. At times when the workload on me gets high, I’d reject job offers irrespective of the pay just to maintain my integrity. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do free stuff for people when the need arises. Giving back to the society is one of the basic principles for success.
2. Delegate It
Just a couple of days ago, I asked a friend, “Do you know to delegate duties?” He replied, “No.”
Strive Masiyiwa, the African business tycoon that has the best mentorship base on Facebook once insinuated that it is possible to run a large conglomerate without showing up in the office every week. The secret is “delegation of duties”.
A good leader must have good followers who can exist independently of the leader. If you have to be present before your people can produce results, then it means you’ve failed as a leader in training people into being like you.
Delegation of duty simply means asking someone else to do it! It doesn’t mean shying away from responsibilities, rather it gives you the opportunity to focus on something else that you are more disposed to execute. Trust me, you mustn’t attend to everything.
I learnt delegation from my mum. She would always divide the house chores among my siblings and I. And when we grumble out of the abundance of our laziness, she’d look at us and simply call it “division of labour.”
Division of labour makes life easy and stressful. The ability to delegate effectively and efficiently is an attribute of good managers and healthy human resource management.
3. Defer It
Me: “Is it urgent?”
Miss P: “Yes.”
Me: “Is it very important?”
Miss P: “Averagely.”
Me: “I’ll pass it to my secretary.”
Miss P: “That’s not a good idea, the document needs your signature. You need to personally go through it.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll attend to it later.”
Miss P: “Why not now?”
Me: “Because I have more important things to attend to now.”
I know there are lots of things that need your genuine attention. They are important and cannot be delegated. But jumping on them immediately isn’t the best solution. You need have to weigh them on your priority scale, and if they are not very important, then defer them till a specific date and time.
If you must defer things, you must also have time integrity. You can draft out a to-do list and write down all the deferred task with the best time when they should be attended to. Not attending to them as at when due may subject you to avoidable pressure and anxiety.
4. Do It
Just do it now. Important tasks need your immediate attention. In the absence of any pressing responsibility, why defer what you can do now? Procrastination can be dangerous. A lot of people make this mistake most times and it has considerably increased their volume of excuses.
Be disciplined with time. You can work now and rest later. Or rest now, to burn out later.
Hope you found this to be quite revealing. Please give me your opinion on the article by using the comment box. Also, navigate through the blog and read other inspiring articles. Life is too short to m