Prioritizing Work When Everything Seems To Be An Emergency!
It’s no secret – IDD service providers are some of the busiest people around! If you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires at work, never getting enough done and don’t even know where to start – this blog is for you! First let’s acknowledge something – you’re not alone in the struggle to keep on top of things. Running a business is hard……running a profitable business that answers to the state (with all of its regulatory requirements) is even harder. So how do some people manage to get everything done in the 24 hours that is simply never enough time for you? The answer…..prioritization!
All projects—especially large, complex projects (eg running a successful IDD service business)—need clear priorities. Easier said than done when everything seems to be your #1 priority! However acting like everything is #1 translates to chaotic inefficiency and chronic stress.
According to Brian Tracy (author of “Eat the Frog”) 10-12 minutes invested in planning your day will save at least 2 hours of wasted time and effort throughout the day. Knowing how to prioritize work affects the success of your business, the engagement of your team, and your role as a leader. One of the biggest challenges for leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis.
If you’re swamped here are some tips and tricks you can use to start prioritizing and achieving valuable company goals TODAY!
Be Honest: When creating your list of priorities, be realistic about your bandwidth. Setting unattainable goals will only cause disappointment down the road.
1. Collect a list of all your tasks.
Take some time and write down everything that needs to get done. (Yes – you have a million and one things to do but this is important.) Pull together everything you could possibly consider getting done. Don’t worry about the order, or the number of items up front.
2. Identify urgent vs. important.
This demands that you know what the priorities are eg the company goals and deadlines AND communicate them to your staff. This is so everyone knows what needs immediate attention. We’re talking about work that, if not completed by the end of the day/week, will have serious negative consequences (missed client deadline; missed publication or release deadlines, etc.). Check to see if there are any high-priority dependencies that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now. Schedule them by urgency. 20% of the average workday is spent on “crucial” and “important” things, while 80% of the average workday is spent on things that have “little value” or “no value”. Our aim is to reverse these ratios.
3. Assess value.
Next, look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. Value here meaning the most significant positive impact.
Generally address work that brings in clients/revenue before internal tasks. For example, Focus on getting the new EHR for IDD service providers up and running before organizing the next corporate retreat; train the direct care staff on how to complete their service delivery logs online before writing new training materials, and so on. Another way to assess value is to look at how many people are impacted by your work. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.
And don’t forget to curtail non-value added activities. Did you know that each day a typical office employee checks email 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times and a manager spends 3 hours each day on interruptions. Don’t be busy for busy-ness sake – Focus!
4. Order tasks by estimated effort.
If you have tasks that seem to hold the same priority, estimate how much time/effort each would take, and start on whichever one you think will take the most combined time/effort to complete. However, if you feel like you can’t focus on your meatier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters.
5. Be flexible and adaptable.
In this day and age, uncertainty and change are a given. Know that your priorities will change, and often when you least expect them to. But—and here’s the trick—you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing – the ones with the current highest value and impact.
6. Know when to cut.
You probably can’t get to everything on your list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list, and focus on the priorities that you know you must and can complete for the period eg day/week. If you’re a perfectionist, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and end up spending way too much time on a project or task. Spending too much time on one priority, however, prevents you from getting other stuff knocked off your list. Acknowledge when you’re doing this and enforce strict deadlines then take a deep breath, dive in and be ready for anything.
Implementing an IDD-centric EHR is one of those things you’ve probably thought about but never “had the time to do”. Going live with an EHR like Focused Software is a valuable high impact task that will improve quality and oversight, streamline your operations and save you time and money! Contact us today – we’ll be happy to provide a free, no-obligation demonstration of the Focused Software Electronic Health Record.
Photographs: TeroVesalainen (Hurry Hurry Rush!) and Darkmoon1968 (Yellow Postit on laptop)