As we enter into a new year, I wanted to share some insights on a process I am adding to my toolkit. If you are anything like me, the line between work life and home life has been blurred. There was a time when the daily commute would serve to break up my day. Now I find myself working more hours and having to schedule time for device breaks. I have found what's equally important to those breaks is the ability to prioritize. Prioritization refers to the thought process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of tasks and assignments. I often refer to it as understanding what is plastic vs what is glass…meaning, what would "break" if it didn't get done? Everything that you set out to do in a given day has value. It's just that the impact it will have on you or your department, client group or company will vary. After comparing the "Impact on Others" against the "Likelihood for Success," we need a plan our approach for communicating this with others.
This is where I would like to focus this message: communicating priorities. To avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed, it's important to authentically and courageously communicate parameters. I have begun to leverage an article from the First Round Review titled, "Practical Frameworks for Beating Burnout" to help me categorize activities into 3 columns:
Column 1 - Things I can and should be doing. These are things that have high impact, but are often strategic projects that will not yield immediate success.
Column 2 - Things I said I would do, but I am not doing. Typically, these are activities that don't require a lot of focus, so they don't get much attention. They are easy wins, with low impact, but going undone can induce stress for some.
Column 3 - Things I should not be doing. These actions return low impact, and success carries little weight. When you are busy, a thorough assessment will reveal items that are not worth delegating, much less completing yourself.
Column 1 is self-explanatory and will demand your time for high impact and high execution. Column 3 should be delegated or eliminated, after communicating them as such. Column 2 requires rapport with your manager and peers, so that you can be open and candid. If you are tasked with completing something and it hasn't gotten done due to other commitments, you should say you can't do it. Just say it tactfully. I refer to it as professional pushback. When supported by data and reasonable in nature, these instances will only add to your professional brand. Prioritization that is well communicated will save you time and peace of mind. It is skill that can be learned and when properly leveraged can help to properly position you in your department, while mitigating burn out!Sincerest regards,
Troy Felder, MBA, SPHR & SHRM-SCP
President & CEO