Sunday, 21 September 2014

Prioritization & Time Management

My friend got the shock of her life the other day when she was chatting with her eight year old daughter - Meenu.  

As usual , she had come back about 8-ish in the evening, and after finishing her dinner, she sat with her laptop, working on the power point ppt which she was to present the next day. Meenu wanted to hear her favourite story of the princess with the golden hair. 

"Mamma .. please tell me the story .. " Meenu pleaded. 

"Sweetheart , I have this important piece of work which I just have to finish ... "

"Everyday you say the same thing... why can't you finish your work in office ?"

"You know that your mamma is an important person ... she has lots of work to do which she cannot finish in office .... so some of it has to done at home, cutie pie!"

Meenu was quiet for a few minutes . Then she told her mother -

"Idea .... ! My friend Pooja also could not finish her work in the class. So, my teacher said that she should not be promoted to the next class ........Mamma, your boss also can do the same thing ... not give you a promotion .... !"

Sometimes , kids have simple solutions for complex problems, solutions - which  touches the core of the issue.  I had a difficult time trying to pacify my friend.   But I think Meenu has touched upon  a very basic issue of prioritization and time management. 

We all know that work never ends. You have to call it a day and close your laptop and leave for home.  And there are days when we feel that though we have slogged all day, we could not achieve any substantial thing today at work.  The problem is in the prioritization of work. 

Suppose you have 10 tasks to complete. Out of that you can choose which is the work which will bring about the most value to the organization. Then choose the next one which will add the most value and then choose two more.  Thats all. Just four tasks.  If you can complete these 4 tasks instead of all the 10, it will suffice for 95% of  tasks and  you will feel satisfied and get a sense of achievement.  Remember the 80-20 Rule ?

Another tip is to "Just Do It".  Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with the magnitude of a task, that we procrastinate or make very detailed plans or find excuses for not doing it.  But we know that this is a big ticket item and if this does not get done,  you as well as the organization will be in trouble.  In such situations, we should just dive into it and start doing the task.  Whatever we can.  In my experience, I have seen that once I get started,  after a few hiccups, I get into the flow of it.  Then it gets done . Effortlessly. 

In the Time Management quandrants,  the most important quadrant is the second one - important but not urgent tasks - example planning , creating strategies, acquiring knowledge, etc. No matter what, the urgent tasks have to be done .  But most of the times, we ignore the tasks which are important but not urgent and put our energies on the low hanging fruits.  If we can be self disciplined to pick up and do the work which is really important, that will eventually lead to job satisfaction, better performance and a well balanced life. 

I agree that there will be days when we will have to open our laptops after dinner and work.  

But, even then , there will be many days when we will be able to tell  bedtime stories to our little Meenus and have cosy chats with friends and family and have a happy and well balanced life !

Cheers !


  1. Liked it. Absolute fact. Focus should be on Important tasks. :)

  2. Well..before we decide on the important tasks, we need to have a demarcation between Work and Life. Many times, due to various known/unknown reasons, we tend to combine the two together i.e. make work our life and thus by the time, we realise our mistake, we find our Meenu to be very very far from us. No matter what, the two must be separated. We MUST have some amount of time dedicated to our kids, family members and friends/relatives in the order of priority, whatever the cost be. One of the solution could be to replace the activities that we do alone (exercising in the gym etc.) with playing some game like badminton with your kid..Though it could be easier said than done..but matters quite a lot

  3. Lovely article. It's about prioritization as well as balance. We first have to get rid of chaos and clutter though because when they exist, time management is impossible. Next we need to have a completed Strategic Life Plan to serve as a guide when making decisions.