When you’re growing your business, you likely have a lot of goals you want to achieve and projects on your plate. A significant challenge for any leader is prioritizing the work in process to ensure their team (and they themselves) aren’t overwhelmed. Further, if an individual or a single team is pulling in too many directions at once, they’re likely to go nowhere fast.
You don’t have to give up on the goals you’ve set out to achieve—you just have to set up orderly methods and, usually, a way to “divide and conquer.” With the right strategies, you can identify and take the fastest, most promising path to success. To help 11 members of Fast Company Executive Board shared their own prioritization methods and how each lends itself to steady, consistent progress.
1. DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FULLY ACHIEVABLE AND STRETCH GOALS.
Setting long-term and ambitious goals is important for growth, but it can seem overwhelming. Take those goals and break them down into short-term, manageable ones so that you can continue to be motivated by seeing progressive, tangible achievements. Prioritization should include a mix of fully achievable (that is, 10% or less uncertainty) and stretch (that is, 25 to 50% uncertainty) goals. – Krishna Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting Inc.
2. CATEGORIZE YOUR PRIORITIES.
Segment your priorities into three categories: financial, quality (of your products/services and the experience you are creating for your employees and clients), and strategic. By balancing short-term and long-term activities, you can ensure continuous improvement in all key areas. Measure weekly progress, adjust timelines as needed, and monitor your overall stress and well-being to avoid burnout. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5
3. BREAK GOALS DOWN.
Break your goals down into smaller, quickly obtainable chunks. This way, you are seeing positive momentum toward your larger end goal. Having small wins keeps you focused on your end game while still keeping you hungry for that next small win. – Brad Burns, Wayne Contracting
4. LIST YOUR TOP “NECESSARY” AND “LOGICAL” GOALS.
Goal achievement is both emotional and logical. Each day, I assess the top five priorities that “feel” necessary to conquer. I also assess the top five priorities that make the most sense logically. They don’t always align, so it helps to have this internal dialogue daily. I usually resolve this tension on my own. I solicit insight from trusted colleagues occasionally if the tension feels irreconcilable. – Anthony Flynn, Amazing CEO LLC
5. ASSESS YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.
Learn to delegate work effectively. I think the easiest way is by doing a self-assessment. Know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and delegate tasks accordingly. Hire employees with an entrepreneurial spirit whom you trust to help you achieve your goals. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing
6. DELEGATE “URGENT” WORK.
Executives are bombarded with work that is both “important” and “urgent.” The important things, like strategic planning, opening new markets, hiring new talent, and building new partnerships, rarely qualify as urgent, so they don’t get the attention they deserve. Leaders need to actively delegate the urgent work and make time for important growth-focused projects. – Alex Husted, HELPSY
7. CREATE A REALISTIC RESOURCE PROJECTION FOR EACH PROJECT.
It’s important to determine the projects that are most aligned with the vision of the company and match them with both the existing and projected financial and team resources needed. By thinking through the details and creating a realistic projection for each project, it quickly becomes clear which projects should be prioritized on the roadmap. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
8. START WITH THE QUICKER TASKS.
One helpful approach to prioritizing projects is to do it based on how long they’ll take to get done. This is derived from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” model of task management. The sooner you finish a project, the more relieved you’ll feel. You’ll also reduce the mental chatter from pending tasks that prevent you from fully focusing on what you need to do. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
9. BREAK LARGE TASKS INTO SMALLER ONES.
A business leader must break things into segments. Putting a product on the market requires understanding the cooperative efforts between the operational and administrative areas. After the components are examined independently, they must be reassembled and considered as a total process. In the end, the product that succeeds will be the one that delivers value to the consumer. – Will Conaway, The HCI Group (A Tech Mahindra Company)
10. EXERCISE YOUR “FOCUS MUSCLE.”
The ability to focus is like a muscle, and it needs to be exercised accordingly. Turn your video camera on during a virtual meeting, and share your workspace or time block your calendar to ensure you’re paying attention to what will actually move the needle. It’s easy to get bogged down, but setting boundaries and clearly illustrating priorities to your team will move you closer to your goals. – Ryan Anderson, Filevine
11. SLOW DOWN.
We all have endless to-do lists as business owners, and those lists will never go away. There are only two things we can do to grow: Identify priorities and execute them. The more we become comfortable with not finishing everything right now, today, ASAP, the more we can progress. Slow and steady wins the race. – Benjamin Nader, 6 Figure Recruiter