Talking the talk is easy, but walking the talk can be challenging. Whatever endeavor you plan to succeed in, you need to be able to manage your workload well, and that entails knowing your priorities.
Prioritization is important not just in work, but in life in general. No matter how big or small a task is, you need to be able to sort out your priorities so you don’t get overwhelmed, and so you can work on every important project well and on time.
So how do you prioritize anyway? Prioritization depends on a number of factors: importance, time sensitivity, costs (monetary or energetic), subsequence to a succeeding task, and more. One effective way of maximizing your opportunities and proper prioritization is through having a tool to help weigh factors and determine which task to put first. One of the best tested and proven tools on the market today is the priority matrix.
The Priority Matrix is a time management system or software that is supported on a number of platforms. It is a structured approach to working on what matters most or in short, prioritization, based on the level of importance and effort. Three factors are critical in using the priority matrix: cost, scope, and time. How much time will you have to allocate for a certain project? What is the scope of work? How much will it cost you in terms of effort spent and actual money or other resources involved? These are some of the things you need to consider in order to see the bigger picture using the priority matrix and learn which items are critical and which ones you can set aside.
Priority Matrix Origins
The Priority Matrix is a model based on the Eisenhower method of arranging tasks according to importance and urgency in a 2×2 matrix. Yes, this system was devised by President Dwight Eisenhower. The system of Eisenhower works on this principle: tasks are prioritized according to two criteria, important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent. These tasks are then handled like so:
- Important/urgent tasks are done personally and immediately
- Important/ not urgent tasks are done personally and with an end date or deadline
- Unimportant/ urgent tasks are delegated
- Unimportant/ not urgent tasks are dropped
What sets the priority matrix apart from the Eisenhower method is that priority matrix project management targets operations and project managers who are in charge of large initiatives and teams, and that they are tasked to make schedules more efficient in order to maximize the return of investment. Whereas the Eisenhower method can be utilized by anyone to manage time and priorities better, the priority matrix is geared toward business leaders in order to keep track of their team’s productivity levels.
Breaking Down the Priority Matrix
Before you start on working your own priority matrix, it is important you understand its underlying principles. Basically, the priority matrix breaks out tasks or items into two dimensions: urgency and importance, and impact, and effort. These are then classified under four quadrants. Overall, the priority matrix helps one see the bigger picture and in turn, helps channel focus on important things.
Quadrant 1 (High Impact, Low Effort)
Otherwise known as quick wins, these are the tasks or items classified as high impact and low effort. They’re the most attractive projects as they promise good returns for little effort. It is recommended to do these tasks first.
Quadrant 2 (High Impact, High Effort)
Also known as major projects, these tasks and projects have good returns, but they require a lot of time and effort. In order to accomplish all items classified under this quadrant, it is recommended to set deadlines and build checkpoints into your schedule throughout the project.
Quadrant 3 (Low Impact, Low Effort)
These tasks are called Fill-Ins. These are tasks that you should do if you have free time. You can opt to have them delegated in order for you to focus on more important matters or if something better comes along. You can even decline these if you need to channel your energy on other things.
Quadrant 4 (Low Impact, High Effort)
Known as Thankless Tasks, these are projects that you should avoid adding to your schedule as they make distract you from high-value work. You can opt to do these things at a later time or decline them altogether.
How to Make a Priority Matrix
Once you understand the general principles of the priority matrix, you will be able to put them into action or apply them in real life. With any task management tool, it is important to know how to best use it to maximize the effectiveness and overall impact of the priority matrix.
Follow these steps to use your matrix priority accordingly:
- Make a list. List down all action items on your radar including current projects, goals, and other priorities. You should also include other business activities in your to-do list so you can include them in your list of priorities.
- Rank these action items. On a scale of 0 to 10, rank every item in accordance with maximum impact and level of effort required.
- Use the priority matrix to plot these items. Based on their respective scores, list every item down according to the quadrant they fall under. Write them down in the matrix so you can see everything.
- Prioritize accordingly. This is the part wherein you determine which critical item to work on first, which ones you can delegate to your team, and the ones to deprioritize. Which do you have to do first and which do you do next? Keep track of your progress so you don’t lose focus on the bigger picture, and so you can achieve your goals.
The Priority Matrix can help you sort out your priorities, but the execution of tasks, whether big or small, will depend on you. You have to channel your focus on matters that are of importance in order to manage your time and workload well. You also have to keep track of everything to keep you and your team in check. The priority matrix is simply your guide.
Whether you’re managing a team of over a hundred members or are tasked with projects of large scales, it is highly recommended to take advantage of technology that can help streamline the process of task management. A great example of this is the management software, Priority Matrix, which trusted by thousands of business leaders to better manage priorities.
Compatible with Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Office, this management software can help teams save a lot of time and effort by focusing on important tasks and projects. Through this software, you can also promote accountability within your team, have visibility on critical and small tasks or projects, collaborate better with your team members. Its features are user-friendly so it’s easy to integrate or add to your team’s current system.
Your data will be guaranteed secure in this software as cloud data is encrypted in transit. This means access to your data and files will be restricted to your team only. Available on web and apps version, you can even use the app offline so you have access to your reports or important files, and you can keep working anytime, anywhere.
The Priority Matrix is only one of the tools with great features your team can use to keep track of important tasks and manage time better. Asian Efficiency, one of the leading productivity training companies, can take your productivity management to the next level. The company can help people become more productive at work and in life through tested and proven training programs that will not only bring out the best in your teams but also improve management strategies and achieve your goals.
Aside from priority management, Asian Efficiency can also help your team with time management, overcoming mental blocks, and organization of files and projects for maximum productivity and overall better project management. Check out our Products page for more solutions.
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