Cut the crap, nobody is that important
In our current ecosystem, no matter if you work for a startup, multinational company or yourself, your calendar is full of action items, reminders or meetings. With such frenetic activity, it is really easy to lose focus and productivity here and there. By the end of the week, those moments have turned into poor meetings, reminders on hold and incomplete action items.
There is a tendency to value people that multitask and/or situations that require multitasking. However, it is proven that multitasking doesn’t deliver quality results (as commonly believed), besides the fact that it is not a nice thing to do while someone requires your attention.
“If you are in a meeting with me, you have my full attention” Eli Broad, The Art of Being Unreasonable, Chapter 6
I cannot agree more. As I once told a fellow MBA classmate of mine (he still is with me in every single meeting), “Your time is not more important than mine”. With that sentence, I promise I didn’t want to be rude, but I made my point. In my opinion, it is a social contract when someone agrees to meet. That is why it is important to set expectations with your team from the beginning.
On top of that, when dealing with someone else’s agendas and calendars, we believe that everything is important and urgent and therefore has to be answered with a “yes”. That creates an expectation gap.
The bottom line: in our current dynamic, we have plenty of tasks to complete. Some of them are important, urgent, or both, while some are neither urgent nor important. Therefore, we need systems to not only manage our tasks but to prioritize them continuously.
Prioritization is crucial because it will allow you to use your time effectively and not just efficiently, focusing on what really moves the needle forward.
“If you can’t delegate, it’s not someone else’s problem, it’s your problem” Eli Broad, The Art of Being Unreasonable, Chapter 6
Whether you are a decision maker or executor, time is the only resource that is not coming back or stopping. However, you can manage time by setting a list of action items (a to-do list) and prioritizing them. In doing so, you will get the best out of your time allowing you to not only be efficient, but also effective. Everyone around you will thank you, because at the end of the day, you will be giving time back to their lives.
Prioritizing requires methodology and discipline as well as being flexible and not rigid. However, it is quite interesting to consider the consequences of those situations for your own time management planning and for understanding implications for someone else’s schedule.
One of the most simple methods is the Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle, reflected in a 2×2 matrix (below). It helps you plan and coordinate your action plans as well as coordinate your team performance.
The idea behind the method, which I find self-explanatory, consists of two main points:
- Get insights
- Prioritization helps while planning the “important” task in order for it to move then to the right, transforming a “Crisis” (urgent and important) into a “Project” (important and not urgent)
- While prioritising “not important” tasks in your to-do list, this matrix helps you either delegate them or remove them completely, as they only create distractions rather than add any value.
Once this method has become a routine, it should be easy for you to analyze and obtain different business insights according to the results of your prioritization process.
Many things are out of our control because they depend on someone else’s actions, follow-ups or approvals. However, if we are able to prioritize our tasks and schedule, we will get many more things done using our time effectively and efficiently.
About the author
I started my career working in high demanding roles learning from clients, managers & C levels. I love the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem, which shape and build the future innovation above and beyond. Having 15+ years of experience in different fields, what I bring to the table is a diverse and transversal point of view. My mind is always working to solve potential issues in particular situations and proposing different actionable alternatives.
All in all, I have developed a personal, deep understanding of the skills that any company needs to ensure that their teams deliver and build value following the company’s mission. I truly believe that why is more important that what.
I am driven by curiosity which can be demonstrated through my ventures in professional, volunteering and my personal life.
In IMPACT, we proud ourselves of having the best mentors for the startups that go through our programs.
Ángel Araujo is a Specialised & Follow-up mentor for at least 10 startups from the IMPACT Growth & IMPACT Connected Car acceleration programs.
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