Prioritising our work, we should all be able to do this shouldn’t we? It’s easy – we know what we need to do, we just have to decide the order. WRONG! For many people prioritising their workload is a real challenge.
I am quite an organised person but I know I struggle to stay that way when I’m being pulled in different directions as we often are at this time of year. I find it fun for a while but then I start to get grouchy as my ‘to do’ list gets longer rather than shorter.
So what’s my top tip today?
I don’t actually have one. There is a myriad of training out there and I’ve yet to find a University that doesn’t offer a time management course. Whether it’s built around Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix (Urgent vs Important) from his book the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ (well worth a read in my opinion) or Brian Tracy’s idea that if we eat a live frog first thing each morning knowing that is probably going to be the worst thing we do all day (the frog being a metaphor for our most challenging task of the day), you need to find a system that works for you. Trial and error is the key.
Personally the old-fashioned system of pen and paper works best for me. When I start to feel overwhelmed with what I have to do, I write a list and immediately feel calmer. For some reason I find it very cathartic.
There’s an interesting article in Harvard Business Review written by Maura Thomas in which she states that time management training doesn’t work because we now work in a very different way to how we did 10 – 15 years ago. It is her belief that we don’t need time management skills anymore but rather time attention skills. Personally I think there is quite a lot of merit in what she says. Click here if you’d like to read Maura’s article
So whilst I am not offering a top tip today I would urge you to keep trying different approaches to prioritising your work until you find a system that works best for you.
I would also encourage you not to be too hard on yourself if you have the odd day or two when you aren’t able to cross any items off your to do list. Our world goes slightly bonkers at Start of Session and I have always thought that this time of year (more than any other) is all about the students so perhaps just for now your marker of success should be happy students rather than a diminishing to do list.