Monday Mornings with Madison


Disorganization is costly, wasteful, demoralizing, and begs failure. Your success may hinge on your ability to remain organized, regardless of the financial and emotional pressures work may place on you.

Not surprising, some people rush about in frenzy whenever they are finishing a project or major task. These disorganized souls are like tornados, turbulent forces that create confusion and clutter, and in time, disaster. Any sense of order and efficiency disappears in such an environment. Mistakes are more common, customers are frustrated, staff are confused, and direction is non-existent.

The key to being organized and using effective time management at work is to prioritize tasks.  Do not waste time on non-essential tasks, or you will have difficulty in accomplishing the activities vital to survival. If you squander time, you may feel sorry for yourself – complaining about too much to do and having too little time to do it.

Employees and managers may be able to survive with poor work habits for a while, but eventually it takes its toll.  For a business to survive, it is essential to chart the direction of the company, establish schedules, determine priorities, and strive to meet goals. A sense of focus is critical to a company’s survival and success.

In the current economy, with so much at stake, it is critical to stay focused and not waste your time on tasks or nonsense that take you away from your goals. Whenever you are feeling the pressure to be sidetracked with such activities, follow these steps:

  • Reflect and ask yourself just what this activity will do to help me accomplish my objectives.
  • Ask yourself “what is my most important task at the moment?” If your business is new and you are struggling to stop the cash drain and become profitable, remember your time is limited – and every action you take must be to grow your business to profits.
  • Then, in the course of business, be willing to ruthlessly re-prioritize if something more important to the productivity and success of the business must be pushed to the front and other tasks are pushed back.
  • Use a paper-based, electronic or computerized list to keep track of your tasks, instead of relying on your memory. A list will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.
  • Know the difference between important and urgent. Important means a task needs to be done, while urgent means it must be done immediately. Knowing the difference between the two will make prioritizing easier.
  • Realize that you can’t do everything. This will help you to realistically prioritize your tasks.
  • Determine if postponing the task would affect other projects you are working on. Tasks and projects can have a domino effect. If you do one task, yet fail to do another, you may have wasted effort on the first task.
  • Set clear goals. There’s a saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” By not setting clear goals, you may be accomplishing tasks with short-term benefits.
  • Decide if the task will help you achieve your goals. If so, give it a higher priority.
    Are you making a task a top priority because it’s easy? Don’t be fooled by easy tasks, especially when they could be done days or weeks later.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity of tasks. Accomplishing a few tasks that are a higher priority is better than accomplishing several lower priority tasks.
  • Which task will increase the company’s income? If the task will only serve to keep you busy, it is not a top priority. Think in terms of how the task will improve productivity and performance.

With a lack of direction, you will accomplish little. Pace yourself.  Spend some time planning the direction and objectives of your day, your department or your business.  Establish what is important for survival and which pressing needs demand immediate attention. A successful leader is skillful at allocating time and establishing priorities.

Next time you feel the pressure of ‘too much to do’, back away, take a few deep breaths and prepare a priority list.  It helps to slow down and approach problems one at a time. Doing the right thing at the right time is identifying your most important tasks and doing them first!


“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities…  The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Stephen Covey

© 2009 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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