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Prioritising your list of activities

Hi again

We are working through a series of weekly thoughts based around change and around “getting things done” in order to support this change. We are calling this Big skies, Big vision and this is week 5: “Prioritising your list of activities”

If you have been following the series, you will now have your vision. You have also broken this vision down into more manageable categories in which to place your activities and for each of these categories you have an exhaustive list of activities.

As mentioned last week this can be a sizeable and daunting list but also as mentioned last week this is your full aspirational list and it is highly likely you will neither complete all nor will you need to.

Here is where we need to prioritise and identify the key actions and separate these from those which are not so “key”. And here we may consider the 80/20 rule, or Perto’s Law. There is an awful lot to understand around this law and its varied use of application but broadly it means 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes (or effort). For us this means we can achieve 80% of our goal by committing to 20% of our tasks. For more applications and a deeper understanding of this law check it out via Wiki etc,

For the perfectionists among us this can be a tough one to swallow and you will be tempted to finish off that remaining 80% even knowing it will only deliver a further 20%. You need to reign in that perfectionism and instead move onto the next 20% of activities to deliver another 80% of a goal elsewhere.

And so, to continue the exercise: go back to your categories and for each category determine where the line is drawn which divides your 80/20. Essentially identify the small number of priority activities which, if delivered, will give you the bulk of your objective? The activities below this line are more and more of the detail which will give you less and less in return. Repeat this for each category and try to reduce the number of activities for each category to somewhere between 1 and 5.

If you struggle with this another way to consider your activities is thinking of them in terms of:

· Must have or do

· Nice to have/do but not essential

· Deliver very little value

Businesses often use the MoSCoW acronym for this – again look this up if you need more detail.

Once again carry out the above prioritisation for each category but this time take your “Must have” actions only. Remember to keep the remainder of your list in order to review at a later date - priorities will often change.

You now have a reduced list of activities. This should now look more manageable and far less daunting but should still get you to where you need to be.

A final note: you may feel very passionate about certain activities but ask yourself: does it really deliver the greatest amount of value and is it really a “Must do” action. If not, why are you doing it and is it wasting valuable time? You need to remain as objective as possible while carrying out your prioritisation.

Next week we will look at sequencing these priority activities.

Good luck with this and see you next week. In the meantime, and as ever, if you have questions please drop us a line.

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