October 10, 2008

Setting Priorities: What's Next?

"I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything ... at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything."

Dan Millman Consultant

Time is possibly the most squandered resource even more so than money. All too often I see clients prioritize seemingly by accident. It appears that what gets attention will be that which in some way "bubbles" to the top with little regard for consequence. When was the last time you were in a meeting which began with "We can't do it all so what are we going to do and in what order?"


  1. I think businesses fear that if they acknowledge impossibilities, then employees will limit themselves too freely. They mix up "challenge" and "expectation," with the result that they overwhelm their employees, who simply can't get everything done. This often leads directly into the crisis mentality, where even those employees who can structure their time efficiently are forced to be inefficient.

    Time management is not static. Viewing priorities from the perspective of "what's next" is a good start.

    I was shocked once to hear a very successful director in a company explain at lunch that he focused on the things that mattered, the things that - if he was questioned about other items he had ignored - he could point to and say, "but I did that instead."

  2. Peter Drucker once said that effective executives do 2 things very well:

    1. They ask "what NEEDS to be done?"

    2. They ask "what is right for the enterprise?"

    If managers asked these questions on a regular basis, I think they would start to find that the key priorities become readily apparent.

  3. Why do you think employees do not take more responsibility for setting their own priorities? I think it is because they see them selves as "managed" with little or no ability to direct themselves. Too many managers confuse managing with telling others what to do.