4 signs you are not prioritising successfully
Regardless of the industry you work in or position you hold, there is a common root of working performance issues tied to poor prioritization. The ability to prioritize is an essential skill for everyone; working without it leaves you without clear direction and goals in both a daily and long-term basis.
Following are 4 signs you and your coworkers are not prioritizing successfully. These signs are followed with an explanation of how proper prioritization can resolve each issue.
1. You Feel Overwhelmed When Making Choices
One of the biggest indicator that you are not efficiently prioritizing your work is that you have trouble arriving at decisions. This is visible in many ways:
· You ask a lot of questions concerning your duties without direction
· Your production is slowed due to indecisiveness
· Meetings are ineffective since goals are not met (if goals are even being set at all)
Having the ability to prioritize helps to ease the decision-making process. Prioritizing allows you to see the bigger picture, making it easy to find what you need to focus on, and complete your tasks with speed and confidence.
2. You Multitask Often
Multitasking has an alluring appeal – we know. It provides the illusion that you are being more efficient; however, these benefits are just and illusion.
Our minds can only truly concentrate on one task at a time. Rather than simultaneously performing multiple tasks successfully, multitasking divides your attention. This leads to a reduction in performance, and ultimately poor work product quality. This has been proven numerous times in scientific studies.
Higher-level work – such as analysis, research, or writing – demands more brain power, and suffers without full concentration. Furthermore, multitasking drives home the feeling of managing chaos which can create feelings of stress and anxiety.
Prioritization is the antidote. By ranking your tasks in accordance to their importance and urgency, you are free to focus on one item at a time. This will improve your performance and lower the feeling of being overwhelmed, as well as increasing your overall productivity.
3. You Are Constantly Fire-Fighting
It’s impossible to eradicate any workplace crisis that requires you to drop everything and switch to an urgent task, but these moments should be an exception and not the norm.
An environment that requires its workers to constantly “put out fires” is stressful and inefficient. Responding to a new emergency every hour has severe drawbacks. This constant fire-fighting is a key sign that you are not successfully prioritizing, and has many negative impacts, such as:
· Needing to rearrange calendars
· Reducing the amount of time spent on vital tasks
· Losing focus and critical thinking for higher-level work
· Feeling stressed and disorganized
· Affecting your coworkers with undelivered work and disrupted schedules and urgent communications
Urgent work makes some people feel important, and some work cultures only exacerbate the problem by praising the employees who regularly put out fires, viewing the behaviour as a solution for pressing issues. The reality is that this behaviour wastes a considerable amount of time. When work is properly prioritized, there are fewer fires that need to be put out because when work is planned in advance, potential crisis can be identified and avoided in a timely fashion.
Manager Tip: Award employees who address urgent problems that did not result from a lack of oversight. Further, show appreciation to employees who avoid problems al together through long-term planning and quick thinking.
4. You Like To Appear Busy
Many company cultures glorify ‘worker busyness’ – the appearance that employees are productive purely because they are busy. Putting stress on looking busy reduces productivity, rather than increasing it. Valuing busyness is a short-sighted view which concentrates on the act of working rather than taking time to step back and see the more significant picture that is the result of working.
Emphasizing busyness also creates a toxic work environment. There is often a lack of boundaries around work schedules and expecting employees to be working out of their set working hours. Prioritized tasks may also not be respected. What creates such a toxic environment is the assumption that pre-set tasks can be dropped at a moment’s notice whenever a new priority is set by a manager.
A company that can prioritize well will value the completion of tasks over the act of performing tasks by looking at performance metrics and the quality of work output, not if the employee appears ‘busy’ or is highly responsive to every message and request. Moreover, people who can prioritize well will be more respectful of each other’s ability to prioritize tasks, understanding their coworkers know their duties and will work to meet the collective objectives. This will create a healthy workplace environment where workers are respectful of each other’s time and their right to say ‘no’ to a new work request.
Manger Tip: A busy work culture can start at the bottom with reports believing they are working hard in order to compete for advancement. Correct this behaviour by making the busy vs productive distinction in your team or organization. Set the tone by rewarding work output and companionship over busyness.
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