ProjectPriority™ - Performwork's Project Prioritization Tool

How To Prioritize

We have to sleep, we have to eat and we are not all multi-millionaires. So, when it comes to successfully managing tasks and projects we have to be able to prioritise them. I.e. Deciding what we do and what order to do it.

With simple or repetitive tasks most of us learn from experience how to prioritize in our head.

There can come a point where the number of factors we have to juggle can become difficult to reliably mentally process.

Additionally, our own desires and prejudices are likely to influence our choices and sometimes in a negative way. Doing the things we like to do before those that should be done.

We may need some help or a tool to ensure we decide the best course of action.

One of the simplest tools is the Eisenhower Matrix, which was developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Who, as well as being regarded as one of the most successful of US presidents, was a five-star general and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe in WW II.

With the Eisenhower Matrix you have just 4 options

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantDo It

Schedule It

Not ImportantDelegate It

Delete It

Waste of Time
and Resources

Some may say it's "just common sense"

However, in reality, the distinction between urgent and non-urgent, important and not important will depend on the individual person and circumstances.

Steven Covey, an American educator and author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.", came up with the following:

  • "Urgent matters are those that require immediate action. These are the visible issues that pop up and demand your attention NOW. Often, urgent matters come with clear consequences for not completing these tasks. Urgent tasks are unavoidable, but spending too much time putting out fires can produce a great deal of stress and could result in burnout."
  • "Important matters, on the other hand, are those that contribute to long-term goals and life values. These items require planning and thoughtful action. When you focus on important matters you manage your time, energy, and attention rather than mindlessly expending these resources. What is important is subjective and depends on your own values and personal goals. No one else can define what is important for you."

Here is a more detailed matrix

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantDo It
Those with clear deadlines and consequences for not taking immediate action.
Schedule It
Activities without an immediate deadline that bring you closer to your goals.
Not ImportantDelegate It
Things that need to be done but don't require your specific skills.
Delete It
Distractions and avoidable activities that are not relevant to your goals.

You do not need a computer program to use the Eisenhower Matrix, a piece of blank paper is quite sufficient.

The Eisenhower Matrix is good but you might easily end up with several tasks or projects in the same "box". In this situation, you will need to identify the common criteria that, when assessed, will enable you to prioritize. This is where Performwork's Project Prioritization tool may be able to help you.

The Eisenhower Matrix is included in

ProjectPriority™ - Performwork's Project Prioritization Tool

Select The Criteria That You Wish To Use To Establish A Priority

Where possible keep the number of selected criteria to a minimum.
If involved with large or expensive projects the more complex Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) technique may be more suited to your needs.

How much drain will it put on projected cash flow
Brand Image
Will it have a positive effect on the brand
How committed are you and your team
Focusing on your profitable customers / clients
Operational Impact
During the lifetime of the project, will it negatively impact everyday business activities and/or resources
A key element of a successful project is to start with a clear plan of what the goal is and the route to achieving it.
Things can change, if you know exactly where you are going it is easier to get back on track before you get lost.
Return on investment, both cash and time
In terms of business / personal goals
Probability of a successful outcome i.e. on time and within budget