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Priority Management

Duncan Lewis explains why priority management and strategic planning can help to reduce stress within the workplace.

You will learn

  • What priority management is
  • How can you implement it into your business
  • Some top tips to reduce stress in your day

Let me say from the outset that I do not believe in time management. Rather, I believe in priority management. It is vital to allocate the appropriate time to a particular task or priority through strategic planning. If you elicit successful priority management, you can be more effective and productive, and less stressed.

So, how should you prioritise what is really important and needs doing now?

The key to successful priority management is strategic planning and then protecting the planned time to achieve this. People who say that they have no time do not plan, or fail to protect planned time. If you plan what to do and when, and then stick to it, then you will have time, which is why priority management is a must.

This can be tricky, particularly when you have the demands of others placed on you, such as external customers and colleagues. Priority management requires diplomatically handling the expectations of others and is chiefly about conditioning your environment, rather than allowing your environment to condition you. This is especially important for people who work from home, as there needs to be clear boundaries set between your work and home life.

To elicit successful priority management, you should be prepared to make some drastic changes and be creative to find innovative ways of doing things. You must really think about what you do. If you do not know exactly how you spend your time, keep a log for a few days to find out. Knowing exactly what is wrong is one of the first steps to improve it. Challenge anything that could be wasting time and effort, particularly habitual tasks such as meetings and reports where responsibility is inherited or delegated to you.


Review your activities in terms of your own personal short-term and long-term life and career goals, and prioritise your activities accordingly. Plan preparation and creative thinking time in your calendar for the long-term jobs, because they need it. The short-term urgent tasks will always use up all your time unless you plan to spend it otherwise.

A system I like to employ is the 'urgent-important' method of assessing activities and giving this the appropriate level of priority. Here are some further practical, top tips for using priority management:

  • Manage your emails and phone calls. Allocate time to do these or you will neglect to get other, more important and pro-active tasks done
  • One-touch handling. When you are faced with a list of things to do, go through them quickly and make a list of what needs doing and when. After this, try handling each piece of paper only once. Do not pick up a piece of paper or start doing a task that you cannot complete
  • Do not start lots of jobs at the same time - even if you can handle different tasks at the same time. This is not the most efficient way of dealing with them, so do not pretend that this sort of multi-tasking is advantageous
  • Delegate as much as possible to others. If you have one, give 20% of your responsibility to a colleague that reports to you
  • Try not saying 'yes' as often. Start by asking what is involved - find out what the real expectations and needs are
  • If you cannot stop interruptions when you need a quiet space to work, then find somewhere else where you will be able to work uninterrupted when the need arises
  • Keep a clean desk and working area. You do not have to be obsessive about tidiness - busy people often make a mess - but ensure that your mess does not undermine your effectiveness

By following these easy tasks and implementing priority management into your business, you will reduce the amount of stress in your days, and build a more productive work structure. 

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Written by:

Duncan Lewis

Business Coach

Email Address:

Telephone: 07930 157543