One thing which remains consistently challenging for teams and managers of teams is the prioritizing of project work. This is true across all industries and it does not matter how big or small your team is, you will at some point, if you are not already, struggle with prioritization. When everything is going at full steam ahead and you have customers and clients to satisfy, things can quickly get out of control. When this happens, it is important to take a step back and think methodically about how you can prioritize the many tasks which currently face your team.
Whilst shifting around priorities is a natural part of running a business or managing a team, that doesn’t mean it is easy, and when you fail to prioritize properly, you can wreak havoc upon your team, their projects and morale.
Effective prioritization is an art and a science, and getting it done right takes planning. Here are some tips and best practices you can consider implementing to try and restore some order and get everything back under control. Even if you are operating well, prioritization is still important. If you are wondering how to prioritize work or how to prioritize tasks, keep reading.
#1: Implement a Kanban System
One way you can answer the question of “how to prioritize tasks?” is to implement what is known as a Kanban system within your organization or team.
You may not know what this is—in fact many people don’t—but it is a very useful methodology and process utilized by most businesses around the world who are serious about their long-term successes and want to get rid of inefficiencies. Kanban can easily be used to prioritize tasks in addition to a whole host of other useful things.
Developed by Toyota in the 1940s, Kanban is a system used to better utilize time and resources. The premise and core values behind it are simple; pending tasks are written down, for example on a sticky note, and stuck to a board. As tasks are added, changed, progressed and completed, the sticky notes are added, amended, moved or removed.
A Kanban system provides a single place where your entire team can come for real-time information as to a project’s progress, the various tasks which are currently being undertaken and what needs to be done. There are several Kanban software tools out there too, such as the one created by Kanbaize, an industry-leader when it comes to the Kanban process.
#2: Distinguish Between Urgent and Important Tasks
This is a surprisingly simple thing which many businesses fail to do. When you are managing for both the short and long-term, balancing priorities between those which are urgent (i.e. needed doing yesterday) and those which are important (those which need doing now or soon) can make a huge difference. Being able to do this, though, can be tricky.
Urgent tasks need immediate attention because they could make the difference between winning or losing customers and clients or fulfilling an order on time. If it’s something to do with money, it is probably time-sensitive and needs sorting as a matter of urgency.
Important tasks, on the other hand, require attention going forward and can be put on hold when there are urgent tasks to attend to. Important tasks are those which help to hold a project together and keep everything running.
#3: Be a Proactive Manager
Your team relies on you to do their jobs properly, and they want to be working as efficiently as possible by paying attention to the right priorities. Your team need to know that they are working on the right tasks, are completing them to the necessary standard, if anything has changed and learn about developments as they come in.
As the manager of a project or a team, it is down to you and you only to remain proactive and direct your team to success. To do this, you should be equipping your team with all the tools and knowledge necessary so that they are able to not only know their priorities (i.e. through Kanban) but carry them out, too, efficiently and properly.
If you are able to manage people, you will find it a lot easier to determine priorities and get everything moving along smoothly.
When you are running a very busy team in a commercial environment and everything is going ahead at full speed, it becomes more important to prioritize everyone’s tasks and work. This applies even if things aren’t disorganized. There are always gains to be made when you focus on priorities with the right approaches and tools, and these gains can mean the difference between securing and retaining customers, or dissatisfying people by being late with what they have paid for.